As one who has read, dissected and written about many a study regarding social media, brands and consumers, I can tell you I for one was quite surprised to see read the findings of a survey recently conducted by Market Force - a worldwide leader in customer intelligence solutions.
In querying more than 12,000 consumers in the US and UK, they wanted to see how consumers engaged with varying industries - retail, restaurant, travel, entertainment and financial businesses to be specific, via the big dogs of social media: Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Google+.
One finding which was not surprising was the fact that 81% of US respondents indicated posts from their friends directly influenced their purchase decision. This finding supports an early study done by the Chief Marketing Officer (CMO) Council and Lithium, a social media tech firm, which revealed 80% of respondents "tried new things based on friends' suggestions."
The finding that did surprise me, however, was that 78% of respondents said the posts by companies they follow on social media impact their purchases.
This is surprising to me because the aforementioned surveys and studies re: the use of social media, brands and consumers I have disseminated pretty much said the same thing which is that consumers are not all that interested in content but rather want something i.e. a promotion, giveaway, etc. when it comes to social media and their favorite brands.
As you can see, this was echoed in the Market Force survey, too.
Are Brands Finally "Getting It" When It Comes To Social Media?
No, I am not ready to go there, not by a long shot.
But what I think we're seeing is brands, some at least, are beginning to understand that it's not just content for the sake of content. What I mean is they (brands) are realizing they need to share content that is of value to their fans, followers, etc. They are getting more and more cognizant of the fact that what they post, share and so on can and will impact what the end user does - in this case, make a purchase decision.
Either that or all these brands who directly impacted the 12,000 respondents were offering a truckload of freebies, coupons and other various promotions in an attempt to directly influence purchase decisions.
One final note worth mentioning is the fact of the 12,000 who participated in the Market Force survey, 75% were women. This is incredibly significant given the fact that women account for 85% of all consumer purchases and as such are, what I consider to be anyway, the most powerful brand ambassadors in the world.
Source: Market Force
Named one of the Top 100 Influencers In Social Media (#41) by Social Technology Review, Steve Olenski is a freelance writer/blogger currently looking for full-time work. He has worked on some of the biggest brands in the world and has over 20 years experience in advertising and marketing. He lives in Philly and can be reached via email,Twitter, LinkedIn or his website.