The currency of social media is influence. Beneath the facilities of convenient communications and portals to entertainment, social media has become the significantly powerful networking tool of today due to its ability to influence consumer decisions.
The use of social media continues to grow at a rapid pace, with platforms such as Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr and LinkedIn hungrily consuming the attention of the masses and connecting them with almost everything they buy, watch and read – online and off.
State of the Media: Social Media Report Q3
(A Nielsen report which analysed the level of influence social media has on consumer behaviour)
With all the social networking channels available, today’s consumer voice can be heard loud and clear everywhere. It’s influencing the consumer’s entire buying process. If brands don’t pay attention, not only will they risk losing customers, but could be easily upstaged by their once small and powerless competitors. Social sites, such as Twitter, provide outlets that empower customers to raise their voice about their experiences and opinions. The anonymity and safety of this outlet allows a confident expression of true feelings about brand interactions and product reviews. A couple of statistics I came across re-iterated my own experience:
- about two-thirds of customers use information found through social media to influence their buying decisions
- 67 per cent of customers are likely to pass this information on to others
- over 60 per cent trust information they find through social media more than traditional advertisements
I was facing a significant purchase decision – one that could potentially save my life, and not the kind you want to take lightly or get wrong. It’s perhaps a bit dramatic, but any biker would agree that choosing the right body armour can be a tough decision. The market is saturated with brands, each claiming to have been awarded all manner of safety awards and recommendations, each using a different ‘number one’ type of safety material. I needed to buy a back protector – this sounds easy enough, but a quick Google search reveals the countless brands, styles and prices ranging anything from £20 to well over £200.
So where do you start? Like many others, I hold the reviews and opinions of friends and like-minded contacts in far higher regard than any sales person or kind of advertisement. I don’t even trust online reviews as they are too easy to manipulate. So, I headed straight to my social networks to find out what the online biker community had to say.
I don’t personally know many of those who responded to my initial tweet, but I know they are all genuine, experienced bikers who were offering opinions of the products they use themselves. With no concern of ulterior motives in their words, I felt confident to take their advice on board. My tweets even attracted the attention of some social network savvy brands that got in touch immediately to offer recommendations and discount codes – it was good to see them on the ball.
The best response came from @thinkhugger (the face of Norfolk’s biker road safety initiative) who not only offered very helpful, totally unbiased advice, but also introduced me to a latest innovation in body armour that I’d never even heard of – a great example of the power of social networking. The ever-trusted word of mouth referral now has a much wider reach in a fraction of the time, compared to the pre-social network era.
With all the recommendations received and responses swaying in one very specific brand direction, I headed down to a local bike shop to get the best fitting of the determined manufacturer – another piece of key advice from my biker tweeps. It’s fair to say that when I come to make my next motorbike related purchase decision, or any big purchase for that matter, I know exactly where to go for a useful input.
So… who wants to help me with #househunting ? If social media has influenced any of your purchases recently, or if this is something you specifically try to embrace or avoid, let me know – @Heather64.