Democracy reigns supreme for companies that use social networking to market themselves and their products. A new study by Performics reveals that most users agree that the voicing of opinions on social networking sites can influence the business decisions of a company or brand.
Called S-Net, The Impact of Social Media, the study found that 52 percent of the respondents either strongly or somewhat agreed that voicing opinions on various brands, companies or products on social networking sites such as Facebook, Twitter and Google+ can influence business decisions.
Eighteen specific industries were included in the study, including apparel, appliances, automotive, education, electronics, entertainment, financial services, food, healthcare/pharma, household, magazines/newspapers, alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages, personal care, restaurants, sports, telecommunications and travel. Performics also discovered that educational institutions, sports and entertainment were the most discussed categories on social networking sites.
Below is a list of best practices for marketers looking to utilize social networks based on the results of the study:
Understand customer desire for brand interaction in the relevant category
The study revealed that 74 percent of people who purchase entertainment products will go back and discuss them on social networks. Hey, everybody’s a critic.
Create and adapt marketing strategies to cater to participation expectations and desires
Over half of the respondents (53 percent) admitted that they will follow travel companies or brands on social networking sites in order to get coupons or discounts. With the price of gas these days, who can blame them?
Allocate time and resources to the most relevant and appropriate social networks
Forty-two percent of those surveyed said that they will discuss automobiles on social networking sites as a way to compare prices.
Regularly monitor and measure social network activity
Thirty-two percent said that they have made a sports-related product purchase because of something they saw posted on a social network. In fact, I’ll even 'fess up to purchasing a Pittsburgh Steelers Snuggie while browsing Facebook.
Adjust strategies and tactics as necessary to optimize engagement
As with travel companies, electronics companies on social networking sites don’t have a lot of fans who like them based on personality alone. Forty-three percent of respondents said that they will follow electronics brands or companies on social networking sites for offers or chances to win points or online currency that they can redeem for products.
While social media can offer unlimited exposure and huge potential for Web marketers, there isn’t yet a perfect solution for analyzing and evaluating consumers' responses to the messages that businesses and brands are sending out. This study is a great start for those who want to get a solid, industry-specific look at how important social media interaction can be for their particular audience.
“Customers expect, and are already participating in a two-way dialogue,” says Daina Middleton, CEO of Performics. “It’s imperative for marketers to listen to customers and adopt strategies that engage them in every channel of their media mix – across all platforms, devices and screens.”