Understanding The Influence Of Social Media On Purchase Decisions

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Social media plays a huge role in supporting business purchase decisions. The insights which a business development professional can gain from careful analysis of their social media following are invaluable to gauging which factors contribute to leads making purchases. A study of director-level decision makers found over 80% resorting to social media to support their purchases, being sensitive to trends, news and service reviews posted on Facebook and LinkedIn. When creating value propositions or building a marketing strategy, businesses should assess the needs and wants of their followers, paying careful attention to trends when looking to expand the scope of their products or services. Here is a look at how social media influences purchase decisions within B2B companies.

Establishing An Authoritative Presence On Social Media

Take the time to survey your customers and suppliers to gain an overview of the social networks which they use. You will commonly find that LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter are the most popular for businesses. Social media allows businesses to make an informed decision regarding purchases based on a company’s brand reputation, opening an avenue for establishing a clear sense of authority and trust as a seller. Expert technical opinions shared on LinkedIn are used by up to 61% of all IT buyers, while 52% of IT buyers take a keen interest in business blogs. Share your field-specific insights on social media and you can quickly establish yourself as a knowledgeable and insightful supplier.

Bridging The Gap Between Vendors And Solution Providers

As buyers seek more information from social networks, an opportunity arises to build a brand that carries trust from the get-go. A careful marketing plan allows an enterprise to address the questions of their consumers completely, launching their online social platform with a strong anchor of authority. From this foundation, a steady supply of credible contributions and social media interactions will steer a business towards a reputation as a high-quality supplier. However, this also translates to more demand being placed on continually evolving the social media presence of your brand. Buyers are beginning to prefer the convenience and ease of assessing a provider based on their social media presence, rather than relying on their website, making professional social networks such as LinkedIn invaluable to any marketing effort. It is more important than ever to stay current and constantly involved in expanding your social media reach.

The Influence Of Social Media On Purchase Decisions

Buyers turn to social networks to procure new suppliers and research trends in their markets. Here are what buyers use social media for most often:

  • Additional Product Information
  • Product Discovery
  • Purchase Location Identification
  • Purchase Reminders
  • Product Recommendations
  • Product Sales Research, Statistics and Alerts

If you provide enough resources to cover all the questions posed by a buyer, you can be sure that you will soon become an authority within your sector. Take into consideration all factors that influence a purchase decision, and make sure that your content marketing covers them in-depth. Buyers will quickly be able to assess the quality of any given brand through the tapestry of online resources which suppliers provide on social media. A clear sense of personality should be conveyed by all brands, but the basis of worth must always be there in the shape of original and valuable content.

Sale Stages

Market research conducted by ‘Research Now’ last year showed how social media affects the sale of a product or service. The research divides a sale into three phases:

1) Identifying the need
2) Locating potential suppliers
3) Selecting the supplier

Facebook and guest blogging are found to be the most beneficial to the first phase of the sale, while LinkedIn content and business blogs are best in the second phase. Facebook and Twitter are best for the final phase. By applying these insights, we get a better overview of the best place to focus your marketing efforts for prospects at different stages of the buyer journey. Facebook and LinkedIn both emerge as essential to brand recognition as through these two networks alone you are covering the most commonly used research channels.

Which Content Affects Buyers The Most?

When you address an audience on social media, be sure to address the buyer intent and not the product itself. Social media must serve to educate your prospect base rather than sell to them. Buyers use social media channels to search for industry insights and products which are backed by a firm which shows credibility, intelligence and strong support. The type of content which you create also has an influence on buyers. A 2015 survey of B2B tech buyers and found the following media to be most popular in helping them make purchase decisions:

  • Case Studies & Success Stories (hosted on social media platforms or website) – 25%
  • White Papers, EBooks & Guides – 16%
  • Podcasts & Emails – 13%
  • Blogs – 12%
  • Infographics – 12%
  • Videos, Product Brochures & Spec Sheets – 11%

As you can see, buyers are far more interested in gaining an understanding of new products via customer feedback on social media, rather than simply browsing product specifications. It should be noted that video marketing has become even more popular since this research was conducted. Any conventional case study or white paper can be easily converted into a video presentation to go alongside the written content, granting you greater exposure amongst buyers on social media.

Thought Leaders In Social Media

Professional social networks such as LinkedIn allow you to establish recognition as a thought leader in your industry. Through expanding your blogs, conversations and other content to include related industry insights and a clear overview of where you see your market, you increase the chances of ending up on a large buyer’s prospect list. Up to 80% of B2B sellers now use LinkedIn to create laser-targeted prospect lists. If you take the time as a seller to nurture your customers, participating in industry conversations and sharing thought-provoking industry insights, you are more likely to be rewarded with a sale. Buyers can be profiled on social media, allowing you to establish your presence in a way that is most coherent to their needs, wants and interests. When you put the time and effort into catering to the questions of your buyers before they are posed, the chances are that you will begin to establish yourself as a trusted thought leader, and a good company to do business with.

Formulate The Perfect Model For Your Approach

The sheer volume of prospect data at your disposal makes social media integral to both new acquisitions and the positive promotion of existing products and services. Social trends are open for inspection through numerous methods and historical data can be compared from varying sources. By understanding the motivations and concerns of your prospective buyers and catering to every aspect of their interests, you can build a brand which has a measurable rate of rapid growth. Social media influences purchase decisions on many levels. The more of these levels to which you expand your marketing, the greater the reward in revenue. To find out more about how social media forms part of a hard hitting B2B marketing strategy, get in touch with one of our marketing specialists at JDR today.

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