People are making more and more purchasing decisions online every day. It’s as natural to buy a product online as it is to go into a physical store.
They buy clothes and shoes online, not to mention high-consideration items such as computers, cars (yes, cars), and jewelry. But that’s not all. Not only are consumers buying online, but thanks to social media, they’re conversing, socializing, and influencing each other online in a scale never seen before.
Call it a shift in Web behavior, but the way people make decisions in the real world is finally moving to the Internet in a big way. The social media platforms such as Facebook MySpace, LinkedIn, Twitter, and YouTube are just a few of the places where people are asking each other for advice and guidance as they make purchasing decisions.
Smart companies are realizing that they should no longer design their e-commerce Web sites to convince buyers to make purchasing decisions in isolation. Rather they need to design the Web sites to allow consumers to bring their social influencers into the decision-making process.
As consumers, people expect and want that because that’s how they’re used to making their purchasing decisions. So that’s why social influence marketing matters today. People are influencing and are being influenced by each other every day on the social network platforms, community Web sites, and destination sites.
You may need to put a lot of effort into convincing your managers how important the social media platforms are. Many of them may feel that it’s a youth phenomenon, one that doesn’t serve the interests of brands well.
The best way to communicate these ideas and techniques to your staff is by organizing lunch-and-learn sessions and bringing in external speakers who can walk your managers through the major social platforms and how best to market on them. Sharing case studies from other brands always resonates well and goes a long way to establishing credibility.
It isn’t enough to deploy social influence marketing (SIM) in isolation of every other marketing effort. If you do, you’re sure to fail. Your customers will notice that you have a disjointed, conflicted story — depending on where and how you’re interacting with them. Therefore, it’s important to understand how you can integrate your social influence marketing within your other more traditional marketing direct mail, public relations, display advertising, and promotions
Some social influence marketing philosophies are in conflict with traditional public relations, media buying, direct mail, and promotions tactics. It’s no use damning those forms of marketing and alienating your peers who focus on those areas. Put extra effort in partnering with your fellow employees as you practice these marketing techniques. Explain what you’re doing, why you’re doing it, and how it complements their efforts. If you discredit the other forms of marketing and the people behind them, it only hurts you in the long run.