Social Media Deep Dive: Understanding & Influencing Consumer Buying Habits
Over the last decade, the influence of social media amplified to such an extent that retailers can no longer afford to ignore these platforms.
The power of the big three — Facebook, Instagram and Twitter — in fueling buying decisions is clear. By 2021, the number of social media users is expected to reach 3.1 billion. With such a high percentage of worldwide penetration, these platforms became a platform merchants choose to connect with customers and a go-to place for product research for online shoppers.
The following statistics help understand the full power of social media in customer decision-making:
- According to HubSpot, 71% of shoppers rely on social media referrals when making buying decisions.
- According to Buffer, social media marketing has proven to be “very effective” or “somewhat effective” for 73% of marketers.
- Statistics show that 54% of all social media users use their preferred platforms for product research.
- Fourcommunications found out that 49% of shoppers rely on the recommendations of social media influencers when making buying decisions.
Top 3 Social Platforms Influencing Buying Decisions
Although all social media platforms are gaining decision-making influence and power, some do so more than others.
Statistically, Facebook is still the most powerful player on the market, with over 50% of consumers considering the brand’s presence on the platform when making buying choices.
To make the most out of social media audiences, it’s helpful to segment all users by a preferred platform and come up with strategies to bring them closer to a retailer.
What makes Facebook so convenient for customer decision-making? The platform’s power is in the following features:
- Social sharing. The culture of brand-tagging and opinion sharing is stronger on Facebook than on any other platform. People still pay a lot of attention to the products their friends recommend or are disappointed in.
- Highly customizable ad campaigns. Retailers can know their audiences in the smallest detail when optimizing ad settings. Tools like Audience Insights provide marketers owners with an excellent outlook on where people shop, their purchasing habits, the preferred way of shopping, and online browsing history. All of these advanced settings allow retailers to reach targeted audiences.
- Customer-driven features. Facebook is one of the most shopper-oriented platforms. Tools like Facebook Store help social media users choose products easily, read reviews and check out effortlessly.
Although Instagram is not as powerful as Facebook by user penetration alone, by engagement, the platform takes the lead. Statistically, Instagram user interaction with the platform is 70% higher than that of Facebook and over 600% higher than that of Twitter users.
- Unique engagement tools. Although the concept of stories has been implemented by other social media, Instagram is the place where the tool reaches its full power. By publishing short videos, businesses can be relatable to prospective users without having to change the overall style of the feed.
- Powerful influencers. Instagram influencers have become a tool merchants can use to reach new audiences and broaden the number of followers. The platform is the most powerful communication channel for 89% of influencers — no other space has such an impressive presence.
- Retailers can leverage the full power of hashtags. Promoting brands on Instagram allows retailers to connect with audiences using hashtags.
Twitter is another powerful social media platform that has a part to play in customer decision-making. Due to its distinct, short content style, the tool encourages retailers to get creative and share viral content.
Here are the main benefits of using Twitter for retail promotion:
- Building a distinct brand personality. For many users, retailers’ Twitter accounts are a way to see a human face behind the logo.
- Connecting with influencers. Twitter is one of the fittest platforms for professional networking. By tagging niche leaders in your content, retailers can get industry recognition and free buzz. No other platform has as much potential for word-of-mouth success.
- Sharing feedback about brands. Similarly to Facebook, Twitter is a popular social sharing space, enabling retailers to generate positive feedback and monitor product reviews.
How Social Media Influence Buying Decisions
To make sure you are making the most out of your social media promotion strategies, take some time to learn how consumers use the most popular platforms when making buying decisions.
Here are the most significant ways that consumers incorporate social media in the choice-making process:
- Following corporate social media trends to keep up with the latest updates and new offers.
- Browsing through reviews and recommendations to find the best products, places to visit, or service providers.
- Participating in brand-initiated activities to get promotions or special offers.
- Connecting with brands to get customer support and assistance.
- Joining brand-backed fan communities to connect with likeminded people, discuss shared interests and hobbies.
- Purchasing products directly via social media with tools like Facebook Store.
- Reviewing the products they purchased, as well as the services they’ve been offered, or complaining about them.
Social media has become a powerful tool to learn more about new products, find cheaper offers and connect with favorite retailers. Merchants need to recognize and leverage the power of social media in customer decision-making.
Establishing a powerful social media presence, building long-term partnerships with influencers, and staying in touch with regular customers via Messenger bots and other tools will help SME owners maximize the impact of their promotion efforts and improve conversions.
Anastasia Stefanuk is a content manager at Mobilunity