Social media, in general, works on a basic pattern of strategic bombardment of information. With so much of our Internet activity being interconnected, it is easy for these sites to pick up on our interests and questions and to direct advertisements towards us.
Some widely circulated recent data suggests that a significant number of people who end up buying things online actually first stumbled upon those items, as opposed to having consciously searched for them. More strikingly, half of these discoveries were ordered for by the people within a week of having first seen it on their social media profiles.
Social media, in short, is sneakily but surely making you buy stuff!
Company Profiles on Social Media Sites
Almost all the top-performing companies today have a thriving social media presence, with dedicated teams tracking and responding to lay customer comments and queries. The companies massively influence customer behaviour, and thus sales, through their social media activities.
- The accounts help build an image and a strong brand personality, making the customer identify with the company.
- Social media sites help companies put on a smarter, more wisecracking persona that regular marketing may discourage. This often draws in younger customers, and inspires more ‘likes’ and ‘shares’.
- Prompt response, and a general level of empathy towards customer complaints, helps further endear the companies to their prospective clientele.
- Companies also use social media sites to create an aura of ‘lifestyle statement’ about their products. So, Apple Inc. would emphasise technical superiority to create an impression that if you are a tech geek or a person with finer tastes in gadgetry, you will naturally pick Apple products!
- Social media posts are as good as their captions, and companies use this space to weave stories. These stories hold an emotional appeal, and often include everyday people as models. The share-ability of such posts is tremendous, and helps further the myth of the brand.
Pushing for Reviews
To be fair, reviews are great! All the detailed reviewing available online, be it for wheat flour or a moisturiser or a laptop, has revolutionised word-of-mouth publicity. Social media sites started this trend by sending constant reminders for reviews of recent purchases, and encouraging people to mark a certain big purchase as a life-event.
Social media referrals are the new age peer pressure machine. “I just bought this” has become a common trend among social media users and it is a huge influence for buying behaviour among the people in the friends groups. Some products are also markers of success in a social group. For instance, if a friend of yours just bought a car, you will sure as hell see it on your social media feed within minutes!
The News Feed
The news feed is inescapable on most social media sites, and even if you happen to ignore it, someone else will take notice and broadcast events on their profiles! So really, no one can escape from knowing about the latest product launch, or of company declarations, or of new ads.
For pay or fame, or both, celebrities milk social media to the boot! Sites like Instagram and Snapchat have become indispensable parts of many young celebrities’ PR schemes, and they not just promote themselves but also smartly create demand for products that they may or may not be officially endorsing.
Brand Loyalty Groups
You will find this everywhere, especially so on Facebook and Pinterest. Common interest groups have a way of banding up together and that is true on social media sites as well. Some of the most active among these groups are brand-specific ones, for say Hidesign, or for a certain kind of products, say high-end shoes. The members share excitement, photos, and product descriptions of new purchases, indirectly egging on the others to catch up!