Most business owners and marketers have heard the refrain that social media is important. While this is certainly true, we sometimes don’t think about why social media is so valuable.

Things like brand awareness, website traffic, and fan engagement are a good start, but they don’t cover what makes social media marketing important.

Social media — or more accurately, the content that is easy to spread via social media — has the ability to make people act in very specific ways that are positive to business owners. A recent report from Deloitte shows how social media affects consumer behavior.

The study focused on how social media affects consumers from different age ranges and races. There is a lot of variation among demographics on how much they use the Internet, what kind of devices they use and even how they look for information. Despite these differences, social media use is prevalent and meaningful for all demographics.

Study results

Social media works well with most groups but especially with millennials. The Deloitte report found that 47 percent of millennials are influenced in their purchases by social media, compared to 19 percent for all other age groups.

Similarly, the study also noted that nearly one in three U.S. consumers are influenced by social media in their purchases. About half of Hispanics felt the same way.

The Deloitte report provided some insight into which product categories work best on social media. According to their data, 56 percent of consumers buying baby products are influenced by social media, compared to 40 percent for home furnishings, 33 percent for health and wellness and 32 percent for automotive.

The effects of social media are not something business owners can afford to overlook. The Deloitte report noted that consumers who use social media during their shopping process are four times more likely to spend more on purchases than those who do not. It goes even further. The report states that shoppers are 29 percent more likely to make a purchase the same day when using social media to help shop before or during a trip to the store.

Demonstrating value

While business owners can’t make customers use social media, they can influence the kinds of things a social media connected shopper finds. This is why it’s important to establish a social media presence.

Business owners can even encourage people to use social media while shopping by including social media in their point-of-sale marketing. If people know they can find out about specials on social media, they’ll go check it out.

This report adds to a growing volume of research that shows the value of social media. Social media influences shopping behavior in all age groups, but especially the important younger and Hispanic populations. Business owners need to work to refine their social media marketing strategies so they can get the boost in sales that some of the stores in the data set did.

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