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The Social Consumer

By Alex Brown

Social-media-for-businessCompanies everywhere, big and small, have quickly picked up on the need to integrate social media into their public relations and marketing efforts. While clients often understand how these tools help to engage the consumer, some are hesitant to invest in social media efforts because they have yet to see proof that it drives sales. Yes, consumers may be following Coca-Cola on Twitter, but are they spending?

According to recent research from Vision Critical, networks such as Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest drive as much in store purchasing as online purchasing, but affect purchasing behavior in sharply different ways. Researchers collected more than 5,900 responses over a series of four online surveys to determine how social media influences consumer’s path to purchasing decisions.

Among compelling survey findings is that while 26 percent of consumers engage regularly in “showrooming,” i.e. examining merchandise in a traditional brick and mortar retail store without purchasing it, but then shop online to find a lower price, 41 percent browse online and then purchase in stores, termed by Vision Critical as “reverse showrooming.”

Facebook is best for motivating consumers to make purchases offline and online, while one in three people who buy items they pinned or liked on Pinterest had not thought of making that purchase until they saw it pinned. Additionally, 34 percent of Twitter purchases and 25 percent of Facebook purchases were made after sharing or favoriting a technology item.

Each social media forum influences purchasing in unique and distinct ways. Pinterest helps consumers get more information; Twitter helps consumers find out where to buy items; Facebook alerts consumers to sales.

So, readers, we’re asking for you to weigh in. How do you think social media influences your purchasing decisions?

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