Consumer Behaviour in a Connected World – Facebook Effect

If you ask any knowledgeable marketer if they think Facebook should be in the marketing mix, they’ll say yes. If you ask the typical social media specialist, they will also agree that Facebook is a great place to engage with customers and get your message out. If I had a nickel everytime I heard the word “engage” – I’d have a whole lot of nickels. But, as described in Facebooks offical Business Blueprint – The channel isn’t limited to only consumer engagement. Facebook can also act as a rich business and marketing platform. Facebook is a channel that can be used to not only increase the value of your product but also increase and improve your overarching brand.

In a recent study commissioned by Facebook, 71% of marketers surveyed believe that companies can gain a competitive advantage by leveraging social media. At the same time, only 41% of said they have fully integrated social media throughout the company and only 33% said they had a long-term strategy for becoming a social business. There is clearly a disconnect.

I’ve taken some time to review Facebooks guide for Building Brands and gather some key insights and thoughts on their thinking. For the most part, I think the disconnect is directly related to marketers ability to adapt to the new art and science of social media, technology and good old fashion creative. The blending of the two are crucially important for any organization looking to survive in a connected world.

A Connected Brand in a Connected World

In todays connected world, people are using technology like Smartphones, Laptops and Tablets and using them to connect with each other using social media. This intersection of technology and social interaction has created a world where people are more connected than ever before. The impact that this intersection of technology and human behavior has left businesses in a fragmented space.

This new form of interaction has completely disrupted traditional approaches to brand-building and brand development. Brian Solis refers to this time disruption as the Era of Digital Darwinism. That is, we are living in a time where the societies and technology has been evolving faster than some companies’ ability to adapt. This is a challenge not just for marketers but business owners, CEOs, Technology Officers and even you. Yet too many of us are stuck in our ways.

An example of this is found when marketers still bring up the concept of the good ol purchasing funnel. Something that should be retired as it doesn’t truly speak to the new type of consumer. It’s a model that was built in a world less complex and in a world where people were not always connected. In todays world, the entire purchasing process can be touched by a sole individuals network casting from all around world.

Earlier todau, a friend updated her status asking what she should do tonight. One of her friends wrote “Tea. Tea. Tea.” and within an hour later she had posted a picture of herself at a coffee shop with a tea in her hand. The way consumers interact with brands and how they come to their purhcasing decisions is no longer the same. The concept of consumers moving in a linear fashion from Awareness -> Opinion -> Consideration -> Preference -> Purchase is dead.

In todays world, we learn -> investigate -> purchase -> interact and then learn some more. The cycle continues and as it continues we are connecting with our friends, followers and social networks. Facebook shared this “Connected World” model to better demonstrate what I’m talking about.

Facebook Brand Development | Strategy | Marketing | Halifax

Here are a few reasons why I’m supporting the death of the Purchase Funnel:

  • The traditional funnel doesn’t consider the various touch-points that are presented due to digital disruption
  • Advocacy can actually happen before the actual purchase
  • The journey to customer loyalty is not linear, but rather is a continuous process of exploration and interaction.
  • The journey is not isolated to just one person at a time — the entire connected world influences it.

Purchase Funnel Disruption

As long as we’ve had voices, we have been able to talk about brands and influence the purchasing behavior of those around us. Only recently, in a globally connected world, has the impact of word of mouth traveled as fast as it does today. We are living in a world where word of mouth moves quickly and spreads in a way that is unpredictable. Thus, the concept of having a purchase funnel that works in a linear fashion simply doesn’t work. Beyond the impact of our connection to each other, we have also become more connected to the media and a variety of third party recommendations.

Thus, the disruption of this model leads to the conclusion that consumers now play a larger role in  developing a businesses brand than ever before. It’s no longer about how often you can push your message – It’s now about the different ways consumers pull and distribute your message.

Learning About Brands through Social

The Facebook study I was referencing earlier states that consumers generated more than 500 billion brand impressions through social media last year. This makes sense seeing that more internet users are spending time on social media than any other channel or platform on the internet. The study continues to say that 80% of consumers are more likely to try new things based on friends suggestions on social media. If this doesn’t speak to the importance of inspiring consumers to truly become your brand ambassadors I dont know what will.

Investigating Brands through Social

Consumers today are more skeptical of brands and big businesses than any generation that has come before it. And when I say generation, I’m not talking about Generation Y or Generation X. I’m talking about anyone embracing and consuming content online in the digital age. Whether we’re using TripAdvisor reviews to plan our next trip to Venice or updating our Facebook status looking for suggestions on a type of digital camera you should purchase. The percentage of consumers who use ratings and reviews is increasing at a rapid rate. This study states that the increase went from 12% in 2009 to 57% in 2011.

Using Social Media as they Purchase

Social Media isn’t only used behind a laptop or computer screen. The mobile version of Facebook is used more than any other application in the Apple Store and it’s due our human nature of wanting to be connected. Whether we are checking into a store on Foursquare or we’re using a smart phone to update our status with a picture of us drinking a Davids Tea – Social media is allowing consumers to tell a brands story for them. While social media is still in its early stages of impacting the actual sale – Technology such as NFC and Square makes social-retail a not so far away future.

Interacting with Brands through Social

A few months ago, I purchased an Otter Box for my iPhone after a close scare where it was lying face down and I thought the glass would be shattered. I heard about this product via Twitter and discussed it with friends at a party before coming across this amazing video. From there, I had no choice but to buy an Otter Box for my regular phone and another for the Batphone – Don’t ask. When I came across an article about Apple looking to patent an all glass phone, I immediately thought and tweeted that Otterbox better get ready for an IPO. They responded instantly. And from that tweet on, I was hooked.

This is the impact that a Connected world will have on your brand and your business. It’s up to us to decide whether we’re going to keep doing business as usual or make a move into a realm of creating social businesses. In doing so, we truly are able to become innovators and game-changers. So ask yourself, are you ready to change the game or let the game change you?

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