How Does Social Media Influence Purchase Decisions?

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Pete Davis

CEO, Ampjar

14 Aug, 2019

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Social media has fast established itself as one of the biggest marketing channels for brands and can have a huge impact on consumer buying decisions.

A study by Lithium suggests that 78% of people have their purchase decisions influenced by what companies post on social media and Hubspot claims that 71% of people are more likely to purchase a product after seeing a social media recommendation. 

With brands set to double their social media marketing budgets over the next 5 years, it’s clear that companies are banking on social platforms to help generate sales. For smaller brands just starting out, the obvious question is how to do the same – where should you start and what platform should you focus on?

While it’s no secret that we’re huge fans of Instagram, most of the major social media platforms can help guide consumer buying decisions and we’re going to break down each of them.

How to influence purchase decisions with Twitter

You’d be forgiven for thinking that a platform with a 280-character limit isn’t the best place to sell a product.

Twitter is incredibly useful when it comes to opinions and conversations about your brand and unmatched when it comes to managing complaints, critiques, and compliments.

That might sound pretty scary but is actually incredibly useful. Word-of-mouth marketing is the most effective strategy when it comes to driving purchase decisions and Twitter makes it easy to inject your brand into the right conversations.

These conversations are going on whether you’re listening in or not and you might as well hop on board and join them – encourage people to share their opinions of your product on Twitter. Retweet them, thank them, and turn these opinions into the foundation of your social proof.

An introduction of #DearBannersnack in Twitter

When it comes to bad reviews on Twitter, these present yet another opportunity for marketing and it all comes down to how you respond.

You can apologize to your disheartened customer, offer something to fix their problem, and tell them you’re taking their comments back to your team.

People love to see a responsive brand and it can often win over people who are on the fence about buying.

Twitter is more effective than you might think at influencing purchasing decisions. The key is to amplify any positive conversations and mitigate any negative ones.

Driving purchase decisions with Facebook

According to a 2015 study by DigitasLBi Commerce, Facebook accounted for over half of consumers’ purchases.

When you consider all the other forms of marketing and advertising, that’s pretty impressive.

Unlike Twitter, people are less likely to share opinions of your product but will engage much more with your posted content.

From blog posts to discounts and offers, the idea behind posting on Facebook is to interact with your audience and add value. Over time, as people become more familiar with your brand, brand recognition and loyalty will grow and purchases will follow.

Brands are also able to sell directly on Facebook, thereby reducing the friction caused by leaving the platform for your website. 

A Facebook post selling watches on a web and mobile platformThe downside is that it requires a fair bit of set-up and you’ll need to find a widget that links your Facebook Page and online store.

No matter which technique you use to drive sales on Facebook, it’s safe to say that the most popular social media network is well worth your time.

How to sell your products directly on Instagram

Instagram is fast becoming the platform of choice for brands wanting to use social media to influence purchase decisions.

There are two good reasons for this:

With a few simple steps, you can set up a shop on Instagram and enable followers to purchase products in a few clicks.

A Jasper's Boutique Instagram post selling leather boots, trench coat, and black leggings

It doesn’t get much easier than that.

BigCommerce reported that one of the early adopters of Instagram’s selling platform increased its revenue by 20% WoW as a result of selling products directly to their followers.

Related: How to Build an Email List with Instagram 

Instagram may well become the most popular social media platform and this combined with the ease of selling means you should definitely consider setting up shop here.

Can Youtube influence purchase decisions?

Cisco has predicted that video content will account for 80% of consumer traffic in the next couple of years and Youtube is the biggest video platform in the world.

Despite its popularity, Youtube does not have a long history of impacting buying decisions like Facebook and Instagram.

However, more and more companies are turning to the platform for help with their marketing including Daisy Jing, CEO of the natural skincare company, Banish.

A Youtube video of a girl about her journey of growing up ugly

Jing created her own line of skincare products and used Youtube as a marketing platform to help Banish reach $3 million in revenue.

Here are a few takeaways from Jing’s success:

  • Be open and transparent. People want to connect with the people behind the brand. They don’t want corporate showiness. 
  • Don’t aim for sales. Instead, focus on building an audience and community around your video content.

This can take a fair bit of time to build up and should be represented in your long-term marketing strategy.

Once you’ve built up your audience, however, it’s easy to start promoting your product and you can include links to landing pages in the video itself as well as in the description.

You can show demos of your product or interviews with happy customers. You could even show behind-the-scenes glimpses of the manufacturing process.

Youtube can help to influence purchase decisions, but only if you’re patient with it, and willing to put in the work.

Influencer marketing is the new way to affect purchase decisions

There is another key component of social media marketing that we’ve yet to consider: influencer marketing.

With 17% of marketers stating they’ll spend over half of their budget on influencer marketing, it’s worth exploring depending on your brand.

Influencer marketing is almost cheating when it comes to influencing purchase decisions as you’re literally tapping into someone else’s audience and having them recommend your product.

A lady in white top and leggings wearing a white cap holding a Fiji water

This means you don’t need to spend time building up your own following and are able to leverage word-of-mouth recommendations without much effort.

A few things to be aware of when considering influencer marketing:

  • Make sure your influencer is related to your brand in some way. Their audience needs to be interested in your product.
  • Make sure you brief your influencer. If you let them do their own thing without any guidance you run the risk of not getting the results you want.

Related: 9 Instagram Marketing Agencies You Should Be Working With

Influencer marketing works best on Instagram but there is a chance of success on other platforms like Facebook or Youtube.

Wrapping up

Social media can impact purchase decisions in several ways:

  • The long-term way is to build an audience on your chosen platform and then slowly introduce the idea of selling your product. 
  • You can sell directly on the platform using a feature like Instagram’s shopping. Or, you can drive people to your site’s landing page.
  • The short-term way is to use influencer marketing to tap into existing audiences and word of mouth recommendations. 

Businesses will see the most success using a combination of methods like relying on influencer marketing to boost sales while also building up an audience of your own.

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