How brands can use social media to reach consumers and increase sales

People go on a quest for knowledge before they make purchases, and social media networks are a go-to source for inspiration and information. As mobile technology fuels a convergence between e-commerce and social media, platforms like Instagram, Pinterest and Facebook are gaining traction as virtual storefronts.

Why is shopping behavior changing?

Social media has evolved from a networking platform into a hub for news, entertainment and shopping. According to a Global WebIndex report,  97 percent of Americans are connected to a social media network and about 40 percent of online shoppers use social media networks to research products or services.

In the wake of the Covid-19, most traditional consumer touch points have been disrupted.  E-commerce has surged because many people are avoiding public places, screen time has doubled on mobile phones, and people say they are spending 45 percent more time on social mediaAccording to a 2020 Google study, over a quarter of U.S. consumers say they cannot find products they want or need and three out of 10 people said they bought brands online that they normally would not purchaseBrands and businesses that listen to consumers and share information through social media are finding they are able to pivot and innovate to accommodate consumers’ needs. Businesses offering services like home delivery, curbside or drive-up services are seeing a surge in sales, and messaging and images reflecting the community spirit and current social climate are creating goodwill.

How can businesses fuel future growth? 

By 2023, 91 percent of Americans are expected to shop online, and understanding the consumer journey is essential for businesses to develop organizational capabilities and a positive customer experience according to Christine Moorman of the Duke-Fuqua School of Business. Moorman recently directed The CMO Survey with the American Marketing Association and Deloitte, and in a video-taped interview, she emphasizes that  future growth hinges on a customer-focused business culture, forward-looking performance metrics and a seamless start-to-finish shopping experience. Since most consumers use mobile devices to shop, mobile research is an effective method for businesses to understand their consumer journey, and gain actionable insights about current organizational capabilities and actual customer experiences based on real-time consumer data and feedback. 

What does the consumer journey look like?

The consumer journey is usually an omni-channel experience and  social media plays a major role before, during and after a purchase:

Shopping inspiration: People discover brands and products through a variety of touchpoints, and most online shoppers use mobile devices to access search engines, brand websites and social media networks for shopping inspiration according to Statista studies.  Informative, shareable social media content from brands has the greatest impact, and people trust information from reputable businesses more than traditional media according to the 2020 Edelman Trust Barometer.   

Brand & Product Research: Most people make informed and rational purchasing decisions and use social media to check reviews and learn about products and services before buying them. The most powerful incentives during the path to an online purchase are positive customer reviews, free delivery, discounts and coupons according to a 2019 Global Web Index report.  And, according to Google, most online shoppers watch YouTube videos for credible product reviews, to see what products look like and learn how they are used or assembled.

Purchases:  Shoppable content and virtual catalogs create a direct path to purchase from social media sites, and mobile payment systems are expected to simplify checkout and address concerns about privacy and security. However, most online shoppers switch to a brand or retail website, or go to a physical store to make a purchase. 

Ratings & Reviews: Social media gives everyone a voice to share their customer experience and influence other consumers with their product reviews and ratings. Consumers across the board prioritize purchasing options based on price, product quality and convenience according to a Deloitte study.  

Businesses that  leverage social media as a customer service tool can gain real-time feedback to address needs or concerns, improve products and services and strengthen customer relationships. 

What’s your next step?

Insights In Marketing delivers in-depth and actionable insights to give you the confidence to make the best decisions possible for your brand in today’s business climate. As a top consumer research firm, we ensure your decisions are inspired by the consumer voice.  Our team has decades of client and supplier side research experience, and proven methodologies to gather actionable insights about consumer behavior from the comfort of their homes, or from a safe environment practicing social distancing.

Looking for ways to better connect with your consumers during uncertain times? Schedule a complimentary consultation.