As we’re learning, many updates on Twitter, Facebook and other social networks are actually invitations for answers regarding brands. We’ve also discovered that 44% of users readily share brand-related information with others. And, as action speaks louder than words, 48% of those who came into contact with a brand name on Twitter and 34% on other social networks went on to search for additional information on search engines.
Does this information in and of itself serve as an invitation for brands to engage?
Most likely not. The invitation is delivered in the monitoring dashboards of those actively monitoring relevant conversations. Opportunities reveal themselves and also introduce a point of entry.
The data does, however, present a compelling demonstration of activity after the debut of a brand within the statusphere and channels a powerful revelation that companies not paying attention are missing an incredible transformation in consumer behavior. It is a migration that makes participation and engagement increasingly onerous the further it progresses and evolves. Nevertheless, do not despair. Your time is now.
The invitation to engage is evident in the conversations that populate the search results for keywords in any listening tool. But others, those that truly drive activity and ultimately affect the decisions of those seeking information and guidance, are obscure to those without a trained sense of detection and perception.
Before we are marketers, we are consumers. We make decisions based on our experiences, observations and research. We also heavily rely upon recommendations of friends, peers, and influencers, and they have embraced social media as their platforms for exercising authority. It is the convergence of online and real-world dialogue that leads to action.
This collective of voices across all subject matter represent the new influencers.
The buyology of consumers spans from awareness to consideration to purchase to experience to recommendation or discouragement.
As reported in a recent article in eMarketer, “The power of online brand interaction is not to be denied: A solid majority of connected consumers have had their opinion of a brand swayed, either positively or negatively, by an online experience. And more than 97% said that experience influenced whether they purchased a product or service from that brand.”
This data stems from the recent RazorFish “2009 FEED” survey that polled U.S. broadband users who had visited a community site, consumed or created digital media, and spent at least $150 online in the past six months.
The study found that consumers were not only connecting to each other, but also to brands directly.
Interestingly enough, just under 25% had produced content to participate in a brand-related contest. About one-quarter of those polled follow a brand on Twitter. And 40% had friended a brand on Facebook or MySpace.
Consumers reported that their primary motivation for following or friending a brand was to procure access to exclusive deals or offers. @DellOutlet reported $3 million in sales that derived from deals shared on Twitter.
However, here’s the writing on the online wall, quite literally. 64% of consumers reported that they make a purchase from a brand because of a digital experience via a Website, microsite, mobile coupon, or e-mail.
The effect of friending a brand on Facebook or MySpace engenders almost unbelievable results. 96% either always, usually, or sometimes recommend the brand to others (22.94%, 39.15%, and 33.9% respectively). 98% consider the brand when in the market for the product or service (22.69% always, 40.90% usually, 34.41% sometimes). Just under 97% (21.45 always, 38.65% usually, 36.66% sometimes) recognized that engagement raises their awareness of the brand. And, a staggering 97% reported buying a product or service from the brand (17.46% always, 42.89% usually, 36.66% sometimes).
This is why monitoring, establishing and cultivating a strategic presence and inspiring meaningful engagement is so critical in social media. It impacts the bottom line. If we are not present within the attention dashboards of our existing customers and prospects, we intentionally remove ourselves from their decision-making funnel. Consumers are among the new influencers as they now have access to the same tools and channels that reach peers and shape their impressions.
Creating a program rich with value and rewards will cause measurable action. Thus, allowing us to generate goodwill through online participation while tracking consequential business metrics based on actual interaction and performance. Defining and capturing performance data before engagement allows us to establish the “R” to actually calculate the “I” in ROI. Without a proactive participatory program with integrated metrics, not only do we disappear from consumer view, we lose our ability to derive the insights necessary to grow the programs necessary to compete for the future. What’s the return in ROI if “I” equates to ignorance?
In the end however, engagement isn’t the only paradigm necessary for influencing decisions of peers, prospects and customers. The same rules apply to that of product development, packaging, delivery, and support. Each represent an opportunity to shape and steer perception and experiences that ultimately impact the likelihood of future purchases, referrals, and community evangelism.
We earn the relationships we deserve.
Socialized Media: The Powerful Effects of Online Brand Interaction