The global take up of social networks, has transformed “peer to peer” recommendations and is changing the way consumers search for products. So, what is the impact of social media on search & the purchase funnel?
Based on my experience of leading major brands through digital and social media transformation and my knowledge of social network features, I collected 3 observations demonstrating that search and social are colliding into what I call “searchial”.
Here are my observations and insights on future transformations.
1st observation: 50% of consumers and marketers use social for search
Recent research revealed that:
– 50% of marketers say that social media has impacted their search engine marketing strategy.
Social media has transformed the purchase funnel into a cycle by adding one more step to the traditional “awareness>consideration>decision” model: The “share” phase.
The key for retailers is to not only to engage their audience on social networks but also to integrate their customers’ social graph into the shopping experience. Some retailers have done it brilliantly (e.g.: Levi’s friends store, Etsy Connect Your Shop)
– In Europe: 50% of 16-64 year old have used social networks to inform their buying decisions.
Google remains by far the first search engine in the world with over 3 billion searches per day. Did you know that the second search engine in the world is a social platform: YouTube with 2 billion searches per day… and that 1.6 Million searches are conducted on Twitter every day!
Here, I would recommend reading “Grouped” by Paul Adams (Global Head of Brand design at Facebook), which provides great detail on understanding the social graph.
2nd observation: social networks are rolling out search features
Facebook search graph: let’s you search for movies, restaurants, music, and photos… based on you & your friends activity…
Facebook search graph
Google is now positioning G+ has the social spine to all Google products and has already integrated +1 interactions on search results. Case studies show that adding social annotation increases click through rates significantly (+12.2% for lastminute.com.au SEM branded campaign).
Tweeter just rolled out key word targeting ad products… and this is just the beginning…
3rd observation: Social accelerates purchase decision
Extensive research conducted by Google (unfortunately, no Australian data), which places social media on the customer journey along other online marketing technics, shows that for most categories, social media plays a strong role at the awareness stage.
Google Think research
But, other experts contradict that point of view and say that social closes the loop
I think that social is the validation point. Early or late in the decision process, depends on your brand and your audience behavior. That’s for each marketing team to analyze and understand. Combine your search and social media activity with one goal in mind: accelerating the purchase decision.
I might finish by pushing the envelope a bit further… Where is this all going?
If you look at how Facebook and Google but also Amazon and eBay have been using behavioural data to surface relevant content (and products). Combine this with the rapid evolution of connected devices, which bring applications like natural language recognition (Siri being one of the best example so far), and how social media is becoming more sophisticated by including geo location as well as rich media interactions… this all points to predictive solutions. It’s not long until our devices, networks or apps will provide us with the information we are seeking before are even asking for it…
I will finish by pointing you to an article on the SMH about Google Star Trek computer