The customer journey contains a variety of purchasing influencers like product and service reviews, targeted ads, and of course, social media. As we hear more about social media’s role in the current purchasing process, many important questions come to mind. Let’s take a look at how social media influences consumers along their path-to-purchase, and see what companies today can do to step up their social game.
Gamification and Special Interaction Opportunities
Most social platforms have opened their doors to help marketers pursue the social consumer via gamification and special interactions. Twitter and Facebook play well with consumers who are ready to refer to a product or service (today’s version of word-of-mouth marketing). Nearly all social platforms have success with campaigns focused on prizes, giveaways, and customer competitions.
A great example of a social media success is Fenty Beauty’s branded hashtag. The beauty company takes advantage of User Generated Content (UGC) by featuring their branded hashtag Instagram feed on their website. This gives their website visitors a more personalized shopping experience as they are able to see real people using and posting about Fenty Beauty products. Fenty Beauty basically gets their products promoted for free on Instagram and then is able to use it as free marketing on their website, all while giving consumers real life experiences and product feedback.
Differences Across Platforms Require Different Strategies
According to Forbes, $41.5 billion was spent in social media advertising in 2020 – which contributed to 30% of all internet revenue. Social media strategy needs to be adaptable – two-thirds of consumers today use social media as part of their shopping strategy, though customers use various platforms in different ways... Interestingly, 50% of shoppers turn to YouTube to research their purchases with Instagram and Facebook following closely behind. One-third of shoppers turn to social media influencers in order to learn about products.
There is a wide gap in social media shopper usage between the generations. Only 23% of boomers reported that they shop on social media platforms compared to the 77% of millennials and Gen Z shoppers who use social platforms to shop.
Millennials are especially primed for the social media experience, as they have grown up in the age of the internet and are very comfortable navigating through the online experience. Forbes found that social media influences a full 47% of millennials, compared to just 19% of non-millennials. These consumers also spent more when they used digital shopping methods.
Psychology Plays a Part
As humans, we tend to let emotion fuel our purchases. Social media caters to the right side of our brains, so it makes sense that it plays a part in our purchasing decisions. Most impulse buying is affected by emotions such as happiness or anger. According to an article by Shopify, “over 87% of US shoppers make impulse buys, and more than 50% of all grocery is sold because of impulsiveness.” Since 2020, impulse purchases average $182.98 each month which is an 18% increase from before the pandemic. Most of that we can contribute to social media marketing. People spend more time online now and that's where the majority of retail marketing is done.
Social media helps instill trust in a purchaser through fellow reviews and experiences. Consumers also tend to compare, contrast, and keep up with the purchases of their friends and family. Marketers have quite a bit of ground to cover to reach their target audiences and convince them to purchase a product and social media – specifically visual content is a great spot to start. Referrals, reviews, and recommendations from trusted sources can help quell suspicions and form the confidence a buyer needs to pull the trigger and make a purchase.
True Influence of Social Media Shopping
Social media is a strong influencer in the world of e-commerce. Shares and recommendations of products or services help increase brand recognition, improve buyer trust, and drive sales. 98% of consumers plan to make at least one purchase through social media or because of an influencer this year, with 68% of consumers have already made a purchase through social media. As shoppers become more socially inclined and begin to base their opinions less on advertisements and more on consumer-to-consumer interaction, the role of social media is sure to steadily increase its influence on customer purchasing decisions.
It’s essential to understand what influences purchasing behavior for the success of your business. We have created a resource so you can connect with your customers on a whole new level. Download our free e-book How Macro and Micro Customer Journeys Provide Deeper Shopping Insights.