The customer decision making process is an essential element in creating a marketing plan. Social media has increasingly contributed to influencing consumer’s decision making. Marketers need to pay attention to this new factor in order to remain competitive. Both consumers and marketers will change the way they interpret information that is presented to them.
The customer either has a want or a need that has to be satisfied. Social media, other than being textual, also incorporates images and videos. Words can only do so much, but a picture can be worth a thousand words. For example, you’re browsing Instagram on your lunch break and a friend posted a picture of their pasta dinner from the night before. Now you’re craving pasta which leads you to start looking for lunch options with pasta. Your decision-making was influenced by something you saw on social media.
Once the customer has figured out what their need or want is, they begin to search for ways to satisfy it. The search usually comes before any purchasing takes place. Social media is gaining popularity in becoming the go-to search engine. With more networks implementing hashtags, doing research with real-time results has never been so easy. Read user-written reviews and ratings about products or services.
Evaluating the Alternatives
This where customers compare and contrast the different brands of the product. Brands that have a substantial following on social media and engage with users are more often the customer choices. Many brands prefer to run promotional campaigns through social media. If the customer doesn’t know you exist or that you are running a promotion, they will not consider you in their purchase decisions.
Making the Purchase Decision
Purchasing decisions can be heavily influenced by social factors. For example, seeing a recent purchase a friend made can jumpstart your sudden impulse to buy. More and more companies are establishing social storefronts and are trying to convert social leads into revenue. While this is still in the development stage, most online purchases are made on websites.
The Outcome of the Purchase Decision
Is the customer satisfied with their decision or do they have buyer’s remorse? Social media is a great platform to show appreciation but also get feedback from the customer. As the golden rule states, the customer is always right. The online community has never had this much power of brands like it does today. One bad comment and the brand reputation could take a huge hit. In every business, customer satisfaction is a priority and a recipe for success. With social media being at your fingertips, there should be no excuses to harness its power.
Whether or not we realize it, social media has influenced our purchasing decisions in one way or another. Welcome to the social community effect; buckle up, because it’s here to stay.