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How Social Media Influences Purchasing Decisions

10 Oct 2018 9:14 AM | Kathy Doering (Administrator)

Retailers are on a mission to engage with consumers on social media. And to a certain extent, it appears they are succeeding. According to Salesforce, 54% of millennials use social channels to research products before they buy. Similarly, Aimia says that 31% of shoppers use social to browse for new items.

But, are they actually buying through social media?

Not really. Despite clickable shopping posts on Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, and Pinterest, research suggests that users are failing to actually purchase on these channels. A recent survey by SUMO found that 82% of shoppers have yet to use social buy buttons or other forms of social commerce.

So, why do brands spend so much time and effort advertising on social media?

At the end of the day, it works.

Peer recommendations reign supreme with millennials

According to Hubspot data, 71% of people are more likely to make a purchase online if the product or service comes recommended by others. Millennials simply tend to believe what their peers say, seek their opinions and often validation.

According to entrepreneur Andrew Molz, in order to reach millennials, brands should focus on earning those referrals and recommendations. Molz is an ecommerce guru who built a Shopify based website and generated $2.2 million in sales using only social media to generate traffic. Apart from hiring influential brand ambassadors and sponsoring influencers, Molz says this may also include asking satisfied customers to leave reviews, soliciting customer testimonials, then displaying those on social media and landing pages.

User generated content has a big influence on purchasing decisions

According to Gartner research, 84% of millennials are likely to be influenced to make a purchase based upon user generated content. Molz says this can act as additional motivation to encourage followers to share content such as reviews, images, and stories. “Seeing a product in use or simply reading personal stories from other consumers clearly has a big influence on this consumer group,” he added.

For instance, Covergirl has worked to create relationships with popular beauty vloggers James Charles and Nura Afia. By working with Afia specifically, the brand stands to capture the interests of Muslim women who may have previously felt ignored by the cosmetics industry. That’s significant as it is predicted that Muslims will spend between 464 and 730 billion dollars on fashion and beauty products and services by 2019.

Influencer campaigns, similar to what Missguided created, generated huge success this summer on the back of its partnership with Love Island. Instagram offered users the chance to shop the cast’s outfits. Capitalizing on the red-hot popularity of the show, user’s real-time desire, and handy product information – Missguided saw sales surge 40% as Love Island aired. It’s likely that a significant portion of these sales were through social.

Millennials are definitely more impressed by engagement than promotion. 62% percent of users state that they are more likely to become brand loyal if a company engages with them, sincerely, on social media. Not only does brand loyalty drive purchasing decisions, it also drives those ever important social media recommendations.

Businesses that are interested in influencing millennials should certainly use social media to address them. But, in order to be successful, brands must recognize exactly how millennials look to social media for information and feedback. This generation values sincerity, peer and influencer recommendations, and values.

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