A recent survey by The Manifest sought to glean more insight how social media users from across the U.S. interact with brands on social platforms, and how those interactions subsequently influence their buying decisions.
The findings can help businesses understand how their social media interactions with consumers can boost brand awareness, build trust, and convert followers into loyal customers.
In this post, we'll take a look at some of the key highlights from the report.
1. Use Social Media to Connect with Consumers and Other Businesses
According to the survey report, the traditional communication barriers between people and brands no longer exist because of the internet, and social media offers an increasingly convenient avenue for getting in touch with businesses.
Because of this, some 74% of people now follow brands on social media - and 96% of those who do follow brands also interact with them on social platforms.
For brands, this means that people are using social media to reach out to your business with feedback, questions, and concerns and keep up with new product announcements - all key elements worth noting in your strategy.
2. Interact With People on Social Media to Establish Rapport
Consumer interactions with brands on social media can also add depth to business-consumer relationships, and enable businesses to establish rapport and a sense of trust with their audience.
As a result of trust built through social media, 67% of people indicated that they have made a purchase after seeing a social media ad, while social media also enables consumers to get an insider view on unrevealed aspects of a business - including its commitment to corporate social responsibility, work culture, and upcoming events - ultimately humanizing the brand.
3. Know That Men and Women May Be Drawn to Different Platforms, but Don’t Base Your Whole Strategy on Generalization
Gender plays a role in people’s social media habits - and by extension, their buying decisions that stem from social media interactions.
While Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest are more likely to influence females’ buying decisions, YouTube and Twitter are more likely to influence males’ decisions to make a purchase. However it is worth adding the proviso that buying decisions are always dependent on the individuals, their social network preferences, and the types of products they are interested in buying.
4. Know What Ages Your Social Media Advertisements Will Influence the Most
Just as men and women have different social media habits, and are drawn to different platforms, so too are different generations.
Millennials (ages 18-34) spend the most time on social media daily, and access the most platforms weekly compared to Generation X (ages 35-54) and baby boomers (ages 55 and up). As such, it probably comes as little surprise that social media also holds more weight in Millennials’ buying decisions.
5. Choose Your Social Media Platforms Carefully
Businesses need to cater their social media content to their audience, as well as to the platforms people use.
Consumers are more likely to make a purchase from a brand they follow on Facebook (52%) than all other social media platforms combined - though Facebook’s dominance of the social media realm is likely a significant contributor to this.
For example, given its size, logically, more people will be following more brands on Facebook, but that doesn't necessarily make it the greatest influence of purchase behavior as a result.
6. Embrace Social Media as a Tool for Two-Way Communication
People interact with brands in a variety of ways, and in the majority of these interactions, people expect a response, opening the opportunity for businesses to use social media as an extension of their customer service strategy.
People view online interactions as they do in-person discussions, and value brands that interact with them on social media. Businesses can open a door to their brand, and instill in customers a sense of trust when they interact with people on social media.
7. People Want to Buy from Brands that they Follow on Social Media
Social media presents both B2C and B2B businesses with the opportunity to connect with customers, and these social media interactions can establish a foundation of trust.
Businesses can connect with customers on social media in a variety of ways, including through targeted ads, influencers, or authentic, personalized interactions.
Given this, a business’ social media strategy will see optimal success if the business knows who its target audience is. Elements like gender and age can influence how the business approaches social media and the platforms it chooses to cultivate its brands’ presence.
And as you can see from these insights, getting it right can have significant advantages, long-term.
*Please note: this study was conducted with 537 social media users in the U.S., of which 64% were female and 36% were male. About 42% of respondents are millennials (ages 18-34); 36% are Generation Xers (ages 35-54); and 22% are baby boomers and older (ages 55+).