Social media buying decisions

Does Social Media Influence Buying Decisions?

social media buying decisions

In light of the relatively recent upsurge in the use of social media websites by people of all ages, the correlation between consumers’ buying decisions and their participation on these sites is being closely examined. According to a blog post by social media strategist Marc Meyer on Direct Marketing Observations, consumers have been shown to use a combination of search and social media to make many of their buying decisions. And we’re not surprised! Meyer’s research reveals that search engines are still the main tool in facilitating consumer buying decisions, but social media is the check we use to ensure the hits we get when searching are really the best bargains out there.

Are you surprised that social is gaining ground when it comes to influencing buying decisions? By nature, human beings are more likely to be influenced by feedback from their peers than by objective quality statements given by a faceless third party. Buying decisions are no exception to this rule.

For example, if I want to buy the new iPad, I’m much more likely to listen to what my friends who already have the product have to say about it than to care about a five star rating on Social media facilitates this feedback process, making communication between friends and acquaintances more immediate while simultaneously broadening the definition of the word friend. The average Facebook user has 130 friends, though most young adults (myself included) have upwards of 1,000. Naturally I don’t interact with all 1,000 of these people on a daily basis, and would certainly never call them or meet them for coffee to ask how they like the new iPad, but if they post something that appears on my news feed, I’ll notice it immediately and use it to decide whether or not to make my purchase. This phenomenon in and of itself has inevitably led to increases in effective buying decisions.

The goal of marketing is to influence the consumer’s buying decisions, whether by linking them to a product they already know they want or creating a desire for a product they didn’t know they needed. The best way to do either of these things is through experience. Again, Apple is a great example. I had no idea I even wanted an iPhone until I went into the store and started playing with one. I bought one a week later. Unfortunately, most consumers don’t have the time to wander around malls searching for gadgets they don’t think they need. But social media is the next best thing! A 2009 article in Computerworld revealed that 77% of Facebookers use the site while on the job, which means that even while you’re working, social media can create product desire and influence buying decisions. Hearing feedback from people you trust is almost as good as experiencing the product yourself, especially if a latent desire already exists.

Case in point: If I’ve already been thinking about getting an iPad and a friend tweets about its amazing functions, I just might stop by the Apple store on my lunch break…

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