People Just Aren’t Influenced by Social Media – Ask Anyone

A recent Gallup poll indicates that just 5 percent of U.S. residents say that social media had “a great deal of influence” on their purchasing decisions; 62 percent said that it had no influence at all.

Yet, companies in the U.S. spent $5.1 billion on social media in 2013. Are they nuts?

Likely not. The thing of it is, people have never been willing to admit that they are influenced by advertising messages. Social media influence is, I’m sure, no different.

Here’s a common example that perpetuates from way, way back. You know those annoying little business reply cards that inevitably fall out of a magazine when you’re reading it? Several of them? One at a time, it seems, determined to be noticed? You’ve probably never filled one out, right, and you’ve likely thought–or said out loud–why do marketers use these stupid cards. They just don’t work!

Well, guess what? They do. Enough people fill them out that over the years–even in today’s more technology-enabled and e-communication driven environment, some people respond to these cards.

Just as some people are influenced by television advertisements, although they’ll generally insist that they–unlike those who fall prey to these crafty advertisers–are not so easily swayed.

There are a couple of interesting issues/problems here, and they’re related:

  • The problem for consumers: we’re bombarded with so many messages from such a variety of fronts that it’s difficult for us to accurately identify exactly what has influenced us.
  • The problem for marketers: their audience is bombarded with so many messages from such a variety of fronts that it’s difficult for them to accurately identify exactly what has influenced them.

And, of course, in both situations, it’s often not one single element, but a combination of elements that as created that tipping point where a consumer or B2B prospect decides to buy.

Does social media fail 62 percent of the time as this Gallup poll seems to indicate? No, not likely.

But, determining whether your own social media efforts are working is not a simple task. Yes, it can be done. Yes, you should be attempting to do it. You should neither blindly follow the pack when it comes to engaging with consumers via social media nor believe it is a waste of time and effort.

The right strategy lies somewhere in between and it will, as with any communication challenge, always be driven by your goals and your audience and just how much you know about what they value.

Recommended Reading:

The Everything Guide to Customer Engagement

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