One of the most sought after answers in social media is whether engagement in social networks such as Twitter or Facebook correlates to customer acquisition, retention, and advocacy. However, before people are customers they are prospects, and prospects require information and confidence in order to make decisions.
These folks are not only searching for guidance, comparisons, and experiences via Google – they are also becoming increasingly social in every step of a decision-making process. If brands do not identify the various stages of choice and resolution and also the networks where they socialize and explore, they will miss opportunities.
From Fans and Followers to Customers
In order to connect with prospects online, we must go where they’re already active. In February 2010, market research firm Chadwick Martin Bailey along with iModerate Research Technologies, surveyed over 1,500 individuals online as well as conducted one-on-one discussions to contextualize social media behavior.
The study found that an astounding 60 percent of individuals who “like” pages dedicated to brands on Facebook are more likely to recommend the brand than those unaware of the company’s presence within the network. Even more incredible is that 79 percent of consumers who follow the brand on Twitter have stated that they would refer peers to those companies they follow.
Since actions speak louder than words, the study sought to answer the question of whether engagement leads to purchases. The answer is yes. An impressive 51 percent of Facebook fans and 67 percent of Twitter followers indicated that they are more likely to buy since connecting online with the brands. With 450 million users on Facebook and over 100 million registered users on Twitter, the potential is great.
Engage or Die
Creating a presence in social networks is mandatory, but it’s also not enough. Actively and thoughtfully engaging consumers in social networks is quickly becoming an expectation. As part of the study, consumers voiced their opinions and sentiment, some of which serves as a wake-up call to businesses everywhere:
“It’s EXPECTED that a company have some digital face – whether it’s on Facebook or Twitter I don’t know – but they need a strong electronic presence or you doubt their relevance in today’s marketplace.” Female 50-54
“Either they are not interested in the demographic that frequents Facebook and Twitter or they are unaware of the opportunity to get more exposure in a more interactive method.” Male 35-39
“It shows they are not really with it or in tune with the new ways to communicate with customers.” Female 18-24
“If they’re not on Facebook or Twitter, then they aren’t in touch with the ‘electronic’ people.” Female 55-59
Brands that focus on prospects and customers through social engagement will open new doors that increase brand awareness and sales through word of mouth. And perhaps more importantly, businesses will also earn expanded relevance in the age of a new and powerful medium. Engagement, indeed, yields privileges in the new world of social marketing.
Brian Solis is the author of Engage: The Complete Guide for Brands and Businesses to Build, Cultivate, and Measure Success in the New Web. In addition to reading his book, you can follow him on Twitter and Facebook or read his blog.