In just a little more than a decade, social media sites like Facebook, Twitter and even Snapchat have evolved into something far more meaningful than their original creators could have possibly intended. They’re no longer simple “time wasters” or opportunities for us to send quick messages or post images of what we had for dinner.
They’re how we stay connected to the important people in our lives, even if those people are halfway around the world. They’re how we find out about breaking news updates before the local networks even have a chance to interrupt their regularly scheduled programming. They’re something that we interact with almost instantly after waking up in the morning.
They’re also changing the way we not only interact with the brands that we like, but also how we buy things from those brands in the first place.
The Undeniable Impact Of Social Media
In many ways, the answer to the question “has social media impacted the habits of today’s buying audience?” is an incredibly simple one: absolutely, 100%, overwhelmingly, yes. Take a look at some of the following statistics that help better illustrate this point:
- One recent report by Deloitte revealed that 47% of millennials who responded to a survey said that their purchasing decisions were absolutely influenced by social media. To put that into context, that same figure is a stable 19% for ALL other age groups.
- The millennial generation itself is almost three times more likely to turn to social media to make purchasing decisions in the first place when compared to other generations.
- Consumers who integrate social media research into their shopping processes are not only four times more likely to spend more money on purchases than those who do not, but they’re also 29% more likely to make a purchase that same day.
- 78% of people who responded to a survey conducted by Social Media Today said that the ways companies use social media absolutely impacts their willingness to purchase from said company.
The lesson from all of this is clear: people are paying more attention to your brand than they have been at perhaps any time leading up to this point and they’re using social media to do it. They’re taking a long, hard look at the way you interact with your customers. At how likely you are to help them solve problems. At what people are saying about you, both positive and negative. Their attention is more laser-focused on your brand than ever before and social media is essentially acting as the microscope that they’re using during their examination.
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But the true influence of social media on today’s modern consumers isn’t quite that simple to digest. Yes, to a certain degree its increased conformity as sites like Twitter can easily create an echo-chamber of opinions that do little more than reaffirm themselves to preserve their own existence.
But they also promote individuality at the same time – by instantly letting someone see nearly every permutation of every opinion on a particular topic, they’re in a better position than ever to see where they stand in the context of the larger whole.
Think about it like this: buyers make emotional buying decisions and social media by its very nature is emotional. It checks all of the boxes that people make when they make a purchase all at once – it’s both subjective and intuitive, logical and analytical. This is absolutely a good thing – in essence, it means that more informed people are making more informed purchases all the time.
Whether that’s a good or bad thing for your brand ultimately remains to be seen.
In The End
In a relatively short amount of time, social media has absolutely transformed nearly every aspect about the way we do business – from the way companies interact with their audience to the level of service that they expect in return. Make no mistake: this is absolutely a good thing, provided that you’re willing to lean into these changes in the way that you should.
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Businesses that look at sites like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and others as simple advertising platforms – meaning that they do little more than tweet advertisements in an attempt to mitigate damage from things like the effect that ad blocking software has had on the industry – will quickly find themselves left behind.
Those who see social media for exactly what it is – a true modern day communication platform in every sense of the word – will find a great deal of success, both now and in the future. Think about it like this: social media itself has absolutely no influence on the hearts and minds of consumers. The way that your business and your brand choose to employ social media, on the other hand, matters a great deal – and how you choose to wield that influence is a decision that is ultimately yours and yours alone to make.