5 Ways Social Media Impacts Consideration

Ask any marketer to draw you a picture of the sales funnel and you’ll get virtually the same picture.  There are a number of proposed ways to look at the funnel applied to social media, including a post I wrote last year about the New Marketing Funnel and the new book, Flip the Funnel, from Powered/crayon’s Joseph Jaffe.  What’s clear though, is that social media provides definitive means to impacting the “consideration” phase – when a customer makes the leap from awareness of a brand or product to evaluating, before committing to make a purchase.  Here are five ways that social media can impact a customer who is considering a purchase.

1. Research

When deciding to make an important purchase, like a car, a cell phone or a home, few people do so without evaluating options and doing some research.  You may have a friend who knows a lot about cars.  You might start searching online for consumer groups.  You might ask your family, neighbors, work colleagues.  Social media provides means do do all of the above online, including looking at reviews from perfect strangers.  It’s more relevant to look at reviews of products than to trust marketers alone.  Allowing user ratings and reviews on your product site, which can be moderated for abuse, can be a very effective way to engage in user generated content without the open-ended risk associated with a platform like Facebook.

2. Validation

Is there any truth to what my neighbor said about that product or service?  Or the recall rumor I just heard yesterday? Look at blogs, discuss on Facebook, search on Twitter.  Consumers can use social platforms to validate or refute information easily with their social graphs or through searching.  With Bing and Google indexing much of those discussions in real time, answers can be found immediately.  Separately if you have a perception of a brand (positive or negative), social channels can help validate those thoughts and views.

3. Creating an Emotional Connection

An emotional connection to a product, service or brand can influence purchase behavior.  Cause marketing can be an indirect way to build brand loyalty.  One of my favorite recent examples is the Chase Community Giving program on Facebook.  Personalized stories of real customers can also be a way to build an emotional connection.

4. Creating Touchpoints

How many brand touchpoints and impressions does it take to impact consideration?  I’m not sure, but chances are that it’s more than one.  An impression or interaction in social media can be measured in a lot of ways, but it takes multiple exposures to a brand to have it be front of mind when a consumer moves from awareness to consideration in the funnel.  Sure, no one actually talks about themselves moving from one stage in the funnel to another.  But as usage of social media grows, having a presence where consumers are will be a way to foster those impressions in a different way than traditional advertising.  Marketing behemoth Proctor & Gamble is exploring Facebook more aggressively for just that reason.

5.  Search

The folks at ComScore and GroupM have a great study that shows the impact of social media on branded search – just one way that shows how social media is impacting search.  Discussions related to a brand in social networks, discussion boards, forums, and on brand-owned assets will impact search results when a consume starts to look for information.  Brands can’t ignore the SEO implications of any content they own – Lee Odden has a great post about tools that can help optimize social content for search.

Think about the last time you moved from awareness to consideration.  What influenced you?  Did I miss any other way that social media could have impacted your decision process?

Photo credit: cpstorm via flickr

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

Real Time: Piano Humor

By now most folks have heard about Chatroulette, a site that allows you to randomly connect via webcam.  This video at posting time had 3.7 million views in less than two weeks.  A musician named Merton, in a nod to Ben Folds, does some great improv.

Saturday night in Charlotte, NC, Ben Folds set up a computer on stage and did an Ode to Merton in response.  Brilliant way to take advantage of a hot topic and viral hit.  Spotted via @BenFolds on Twitter, for that matter.  As of posting this video only had about 4200 views.

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

Return on Serendipity

According to Wikipedia, Serendipity “is the effect by which one accidentally stumbles upon something fortunate, especially while looking for something entirely unrelated.”  I’ve found that since engaging on several different social media tools like Twitter, that has happened a lot more often.  How about you?  “Return on serendipity” really makes no sense – how can you plan to get a return on something that happens by accident?

Last week I attended the Social Business Summit, hosted by the Dachis Group in Austin, TX just before the SXSW Interactive conference.  One of the speakers was John Hagel. John is the co-chair of a Silicon Valley research center for Deloitte.  One quote stood out for me, and it applies to both individuals and businesses:

You can increase the opportunity to achieve serendipity.  What’s your serendipity strategy?

You can put yourself out there.  Businesses can establish outposts in social channels, build and foster relationships, and have a presence where customers expect them to be.  With the growth of social media tools, and their resulting impact on other digital channels, this will give you more opportunities for people to find you.

Last fall, GroupM and Comscore announced the results of a compelling study on the correlation between social media and paid search.  One highlight for me hits home for the digital marketer:

The study…showed a 50 percent click-through-rate (CTR) increase in paid search when sonsumers were exposed to influenced social media and paid search.  This revealed consumers exposed to social media are more likely to click on a brand’s paid search ad as compared to those exposed to the brand’s paid search alone.

To me, that’s hard evidence that building a footprint increases the likelihood of serendipity – consumers will find you, perhaps when they were not expecting to.  The term “return on serendipity” may be a non sequitor, but there are signs of real, tangible return on making opportunities more likely to happen.   Have other examples?  I’d love to hear them.

Update: After a little discussion on Twitter I was alerted to this great post by Rachel Happe: 5 Ways to Orchestrate Serendipity.  Worth the read.

Photo credit: shashachu via flickr

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

Why Companies Should Leverage The Community Roundtable

Over the last couple of years I’ve been fortunate to get to know the founders of the Community Roundtable well. Jim Storer and Rachel Happe are two talented community practitioners with tons of experience. When Jim told me about his idea for TheCR (as it’s known in short), I was intrigued from day one. While there are many social media practitioners, blogs and community platform companies to leverage out there, TheCR provides at least two unique differentiators as part of its value proposition:

  • The Community Roundtable is a peer network of social media practioners and community managers. In essence, TheCR is using community to enhance and better people and businesses who are practicing community management every day. This isn’t social media or community 101, it’s 501. It’s a network for people who practice the discipline daily.
  • The Community Roundtable is pushing the envelope to advance the field. With their background in organizational design, TheCR team has built a framework of business processes to apply to various stages of community lifecycle. This isn’t (only) for selling community into an organization, it’s aimed at best practices at sustaining and growing them. TheCR is the answer to the question, “You have a community. Now what?”

As companies look at branded and non-branded, public and private, enterprise and customer-facing community platforms and decisions, TheCR provides a highly concentrated armament of resources and network of peers for support. Rosetta, my agency has been a partner from early on due to the complement to our own value proposition, and as Rachel describes it, I’m a self-professed “Cheesehead.”

So it’s not a surprise that Rosetta is pleased to be a sponsor, along with Fuzebox and Powered (another Rosetta partner), of The Community Roundtable’s first annual State of Community Management 2010 report. This 60+ page report, with an introduction from Altimeter Group‘s Jeremiah Owyang, is a tremendous resource that combines the voice of participating members representing “over 180+ years of community management experience” and what the group learned in 2009. It’s an asset to anyone exploring starting or improving their community initatives in 2010.