I read an article recently which followed a number of studies regarding how consumers are really using search engines and social media sites to make purchasing decisions.
One study showed that search engines are still the first stop for consumers who are looking to buy, AND THEN they turn to social media to validate their purchasing decisions.
58% of respondents start with search engines, while 24% started with company sites and only 18% begin their online research for goods and services with social media.
Within the group that began their shopping with the search engines, 40% then turn to social media to help make a decision.
Shoppers still start out with search engines for a number of reasons. Research found that their reasons appeared to be partly out of habit, partly due to ease-of-use, and partly due to the vast amount of information available on them.
Consumers are still using social media to find options. According to the study, 28% of the respondents said that social media sites such as Twitter, Facebook and YouTube give them information that allows them to learn more about products and brands. A large percentage said they rely on social media site information to eliminate options.
One of the conclusions from the study is that user reviews and category blogs are used more for shopping information than just the use of YouTube, Twitter and Facebook.
The report is titled “The Virtuous Circle: the Role of Search and Social Media in the Purchase Pathway.” It was a joint project of comScore and search marketing specialist Group M Search.
We see this as confirmation that brands need to use social media as part of an integrated marketing strategy, rather than singularly relying on social media to promote their business.
By Kim Bresden, Founder & CEO WSPM