Marketers who create highly sharable online content—video, audio and photos consumers want to share with friends and colleagues—significantly boost their brand’s online presence and are more likely to increase sales, according to a new survey of social consumers.
The “Science of Sharing” study, conducted by M Booth and Beyond, two Next Fiftenn agencies, examined US consumer engagement with products online across a dozen brand categories. According to the data released today, more than half of consumers (53 percent) say they interact with brands on Facebook, four in ten (42 percent) have written a product review online, and a third (33 percent) have written an online post about a product.
One in five consumers are “high sharers,’ according to the survey, and are three times more likely to make a product recommendation online. They tend to be younger, brand loyal, own multiple internet devices and are conducting online research that requires minimal emotional or monetary investment. “Low sharers” tend to be older, put a premium on quality, are less brand loyal, and are researching products online that cost more and involve more consideration.
When it comes to influencing consumer decision making, search is the most powerful online gateway followed by digital word of mouth and recommendations made by friends and family. The most common products that people recommended online, according to the study, are from the beauty, electronics, fashion and music categories.
“Search is essential for brands, and sharable creative content creation is of the utmost importance in order to generate strong organic search results to increase search’s influence on the consumer,” says David Hargreaves, CEO of digital consultancy Beyond. “The brand that can identify their online advocates and get them to share more content with their friends will most likely see an increase in sales.”
The impact of online channels on consumer decision making rises and falls across product categories. Facebook has the highest influence on baby brands, YouTube on music, and review sites on electronics. The most influential channels in brand decision making, according to the study, are search results, the brand website, rating and review sites, news articles and online ads. The least influential are Twitter, Wikipedia, personal blog posts and Facebook comments.
“Understanding the path that your consumer follows when researching and making purchase decisions is critical for online fan engagement and marketing ROI,” says Josh Rosenberg, senior vice president and director of M Booth’s FirstWord Digital. “Just having a social presence is no longer enough for brands; brands need to take a deeper dive into the most influential digital channels that correspond to their category to best connect with and influence consumers.”