Shock, Horror! Social Media Advertising Is Useless (or Is It?)

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Time for another study showing social media has “little sway” on purchases. This one was carried out by Gallup in the US, which showed the following:

62% of Americans say social media has “no influence at all” on their purchasing decisions including 48% of millennials. The results are pretty unsurprising but the conclusion is simply wrong, here’s why:

It’s about how you ask the question and interpret the results

Sure, if you ask someone if they buy based on what they see on Facebook or Twitter, my guess is they will say no.

However – according to Gallup, this is what US consumers do use social media for: Connecting with friends and family (94%) and sharing information (53%).

And what are the most influential factors persuading people to buy stuff?

Why recommendations from friends and family (84%) and opinions posted online (68%). This is according to the 58 country Nielsen global trust in advertising study.

So, those same people you talk to on social networks are the ones who influence what you buy. Which is why brand advocacy and super fans programmes make a great deal of sense, and work for companies that invest in them.

It’s about expectations

Realistic ones.

Say you are a soft drink company like Coke and are running one of your periodic TV ad campaigns. Do you expect people to leap off the sofa, run down to the nearest convenience store and buy a bottle of coke? No? Then why expect the same from your social media marketing campaigns?

Social media advertising is like any other form of advertising. It might work there and then, but more often than not it doesn’t.

It works in tandem with other forms of marketing, to the point that when the consumer goes and buys said bottle of coke on the weekly shop, s/he’s stopped thinking about why it’s landing in the shopping cart, for the simple reason that there are lots of different inter-connected factors at play.

Adobe put it best, it’s about the first rather than last click.

Social media isn’t the last place you go before you buy, it is more often the first. You see a recommendation on Facebook, Twitter et al and may then search, read about it on a news site, look at some consumer review sites and so on. And then you buy.

In fact, according to Adobe, working on a last click rather than first click attribution model results in you underestimating the impact of social media by 90%.

Image – Steve Snodgrass

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