Marketing agency Mr Youth recently conducted a fairly comprehensive study about the role social media played in holiday gift purchasing decisions this year, and what they found wasn't all merry.
For the three weeks leading up to and including Black Friday and Cyber Monday, Mr Youth gathered data on social media interactions to see how they affected holiday purchasing decisions. On the upside, they concluded that about 65 percent of user recommendations made or received on social networking sites led to a purchase, and these recommendations were twice as likely to lead to gift purchses. However, it seems that many brands are apparently just not responding to consumers on these same social media sites; only 55 percent of brands regularly respond to users on Facebook, meaning nearly half of all consumer comments are ignored.
The numbers are a little better on Twitter (this study was obviously conducted before it rolled out brand pages), where brands respond about 61 percent of the time, largely because it allows for both private DMs and @ replies. Also, Facebook has recently been toying around with the idea of introducing private messages for pages to help alleviate this problem, but it still speaks to some potentially damaging missed opportunities by these supposedly social-savvy companies.
Perhaps that explains why the study also found that just 36 percent of social media users find brands with a social presence more trustworthy than brands who aren't on social networks. And online trust seems to be important, as 52 percent of users would be willing to pay more for brands they trust, while just 29 percent of people who aren't on social media will pay more for a brand they trust.
If that's not enough, 80 percent of users who got a response from a brand on a social networking site would go on to make a purchase based on the interaction. This speaks volumes about the crucial role that social media plays into today's marketing environment, as consumers are ever-increasingly expecting brands to interact with them on a wholly personal level, and the responses they get could be the deciding factor for turning a potential customer into a real live paying customer.