The impact of social media on the consumer purchase decision

The impact of social media on the consumer purchase decision

From offering exclusive deals, to product information, to customer reviews; the scope for creativity in the social space is as wide as it is fast moving. Now, with social media a mainstay in all our lives, the traditional ‘wide to slim’ purchasing funnel is defunct. Enter the age of a circular, omni directional purchase path; where quality is rewarded and constant contact, whether explicit or discrete, is mutually beneficial for both brand and consumer.

The main value in social media lies in communication. As a perfect support to any marketing campaign, platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, Youtube etc. allow anyone from loyal customers to potential leads to share experiences and interact with one and other in a refreshingly unregulated manner. With 71% of consumers declaring they are more likely to make a purchase after a social media referral (Social Media Today), the power of connectivity is undeniable. Harnessing this power is the holy grail for any modern brand.

The value held in such powerful communicative platforms has pushed us into an age of Social Commerce. Retail giants such as Amazon once built their empires on quick purchase time and instant gratification, now we see a trend towards online catalogues, tutorials and forums; all designed to inspire the customer and to create an active community. Engagement is key in a world where alternatives are only a click away.

Generating interest and leads is obviously a valuable asset to any company and post purchase is where social media’s true value can be utilised. Mobile devices allow the customer to share their purchases instantly to friends and followers. After this, visiting the brand social hub, filled with brand enthusiasts who have positive things to say about the product, is a powerful experience which can harbour brand loyalty and encourage the customer to “like” or “follow”, opening up their news feeds to future news and product lines. Nurturing this relationship post purchase is the key to driving sales in this fast moving sector. As Silicon Valley’s most prolific speaker Guy Kawasaki points out, 

“‘Lonelyboy15’ could be the person who makes your brand a success. You have to spread a lot of seeds and remember that even the nobodies are somebodies in digital marketing. Everyone's an influencer on some level.”

The key to the potency of modern social media on the purchase path is its presence from conception, through sale, to post sale loyalty. The potential to shepherd a customer throughout the entire journey is an indispensable string to any marketeers bow. 

Social, brand building, and commerce are no longer separate activities. The best brands will integrate all three into seamless experiences wherever and whenever the shopper wants.

Captivate a customer throughout, providing practicality and excitement, expect to build a community of loyal fans who will entice the next generation of customers; take less care or provide a lacklustre product, expect the double edge sword of digitised public feedback to cut your fanbase at an alarming rate.