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How your customers use social media when making purchasing decisions
Social media has a growing presence in all of our lives, especially since the coronavirus pandemic forced many of our everyday interactions online. People now use social media channels to connect with friends, digest news, share life updates or even pass a few hours by scrolling. It’s no surprise, then, that social media has also begun to influence consumer behaviour.
54% of users utilise social media to research their purchasing decisions. This shows more people are increasingly relying on platforms like TikTok, Instagram, Facebook, Twitter and YouTube to research products and services.
If you want to target leads effectively, you need to understand social media’s role in their customer journey. This will ensure you put out the suitable activity on the right platforms to draw people to your brand and secure sales.
This guide lists the various ways that social media affects consumer behaviour and how customers may use it to connect with your business.
A research tool
One of the top ways consumers use social media is to uncover new brands and find out more about products and services. This is no bad thing for businesses, with a Deloitte report highlighting that consumers influenced by social media will typically spend four times more than those who aren’t. Moreover, they are more likely to purchase on the same day of coming across a product on social media.
By getting your brand in front of people on social media through advertising, paid promotion or organic content (including hashtags, commenting and general posting), you can tap into the vast audience available and stand a better chance of converting them into customers. This is, if you offer content that effectively gains attention and convinces them to buy.
Below, we’ve listed some of the content you can push during this ‘research’ stage, to turn users into interested leads and eventually customers.
Reviews and recommendations
As we’ve already mentioned, social media is a channel for people to connect with friends, acquaintances and even strangers worldwide. It’s also a place where people can share parts of their lives – including great experiences they’ve had with businesses.
Due to this, social media has grown into a popular channel to share reviews of products and services. This has a dual purpose: it allows people to promote excellent purchases they have come across to help others make a similar purchase or warn against buying from sub-par businesses.
Of course, you want to make sure that you are only receiving favourable reviews, which you can be achieve by offering excellent experiences and meeting customer expectations. With this, people will start to spread your business through their recommendations, helping you reach new people and build a positive reputation.
Roughly 77% of people read customer reviews before purchasing, and a massive 68% of users will often go straight to a business’s social media profile to read reviews. This makes it essential to secure reviews from your customers, through incentives or emails requesting their feedback, and make them a prominent feature on your social media pages.
Influencer content is rife on social media, with celebrities and industry leaders sharing their endorsement of specific products and services. While this tends to be less authentic than reviews, due to the paid element, it can still be highly effective at reaching new audiences and affecting their purchasing decisions.
When utilising influencer marketing, you need to use people who already align with your target audiences and are capable of presenting your products in a positive, on-brand approach. This will empower your brand reputation within the public sphere while remaining consistent with your values.
By identifying appropriate influencers and sending the right message about your brand, you will convert people into customers and improve awareness, drastically driving sales.
Alongside researching the products and services they want to buy, people increasingly use social media to conduct purchases. Many platforms, including Instagram and Facebook, have a designated ‘shop’ area that allows businesses to display products, including their prices. Often this will directly lead to your website to complete the purchase.
The benefit of this is that it allows you to showcase your products on social media so that people can find out more and progress towards a sale.
Even if you do not directly sell through social media, it’s still a sensible idea to use your profiles to share information and imagery relating to your products and services. This will allow those who follow you, but may not have purchased, to stay updated with your business and propel their purchasing journey.
Other examples of content you might utilise to promote your offering include case studies, product spotlights, blogs and exclusive offers/discounts. By continually sharing such content, you can encourage people to take the plunge and convert into a customer.
Another way that people increasingly use social media is to interact with brands and get answers to queries directly. Users now expect businesses to give customer service online, with 67% of consumers looking for conflict resolution on social channels.
By offering service through social media, you can meet your customers’ expectations and improve their experience. This also counts for those who may not have bought from your business yet but have questions they want to ask before they make a purchase.
If you use social media for customer service – which is recommended – you need to make sure you have the capacity. This means having enough staff to handle queries, so you can provide a quick, helpful response that maintains your brand reputation and supports customers. This will enable you to improve satisfaction levels, provide information and rectify issues.
Answering a customer complaint has also been shown to increase brand advocacy by up to 25%, meaning you can turn a potentially harmful experience into a positive one and retain your customer base.
Even after the point of purchase, social media continues to be a great place to elongate relationships and keep customers invested in your business. This increases the chances of repeat purchases and recruiting loyal brand ambassadors.
To grow your relationships through social media, you need to ensure your customers follow you. Some may naturally come to you, having seen your content or actively searched your profiles, but it’s also worth linking to your platforms on your website and in emails to encourage them if not.
Then, you need to focus on sharing content that brings value, even after buying. This could include posting new products and updates, opening conversations with relevant topics and offering hints and tips on their purchases.
Another option is to collate and share user-generated content from your customers. This includes the likes of reviews, as already discussed in this guide, but also in-depth case studies, imagery and videos.
There are many benefits to utilising UGC. Firstly, it allows you to appreciate your customers, showing you care enough to gather their feedback and repurpose it onto your social media channels. It also helps them feel involved with your brand, making them more likely to endorse it. Secondly, this content can represent positive brand experiences – making new leads more likely to purchase!
By identifying a content strategy that keeps your customers engaged, you can unleash the benefits of improved brand loyalty, repeat sales, and increased lifetime value per customer even after purchase.
There is no denying the power of social media in all our lives, especially in how we act as consumers. With more people influenced by social content – including the likes of reviews and influencer posts – when choosing which brands to support and the products to buy, businesses need to ensure their social presence is an integral part of their overall sales and marketing strategy.
By understanding the role of social media and how your customers use it, you can ensure you are posting engaging content that actively leads them onto the next stage of their journey. This can effectively take them from stranger to lead, onto a customer and finally a loyal brand ambassador.
The rewards are increased conversion rates for your brand, leading to improved sales figures and better satisfaction metrics.