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Impact of Social Media on Consumer Buying Behavior


Introduction


Social media has changed the game for many industries and disciplines, including consumer behavior. The social media revolution has led to new ways of seeking and obtaining information on a multitude of products and services in the market. It has enabled consumers to connect and discuss brands with each other quickly and easily.


Consumers used to rely on physical stores to do their shopping but the internet and social media have changed how businesses and customers communicate. With the aid of modern communication technology, consumers are able to shop on the internet using several social media platforms and different websites. This kind of shopping can come in several names such as online shopping, online buying behavior, and internet shopping. All refer to the process of purchasing and buying products or services through the internet using several social media platforms and websites.


If there is one thing to take away from the Covid-19 pandemic as a business owner, that would be the undeniable fact that the power of social media and the importance of having a social media presence and offering your services online can not be over-emphasized.




What is Social media?





Social media is any digital tool that allows users to quickly create and share content with the public. Social media encompasses a wide range of websites and apps.

Social media can be defined as consumer-generated media that covers a wide variety of new sources of online information, created and used by consumers with the intent of sharing information with others regarding any topic interest (David Amerland)


Most used social media with impact on consumer buying behavior are:


  • Instagram

  • Facebook

  • Youtube

  • Twitter


These are tools that facilitate online relationships between consumer to consumer, business to consumer, and consumer to business. It is a relatively low-cost form of marketing that allows organizations to engage in direct user contact. The internet enables businesses to reach a worldwide customer population so that customers can purchase products and services from businesses around the world.


Why should your business have a social media presence?


Social media, especially social networking sites provide a variety of space for people to communicate through the internet which as well might be an important agent of consumer socialization. Moreover, by using social media, consumers have the power to influence other buyers through a review of products or services used.


Social media offers different values to organizations and SMEs such as enhanced brand popularity, increasing sales, sharing information in a business context, and generating social support for consumers.


During the Covid-19 pandemic, a lot of businesses crashed and that includes the oil industry, tourism and aviation, cinema and entertainment, real estate and construction, stock market crash, and a lot of other industries, the crash led to millions of people losing their jobs around the world. At the same time, a lot of businesses were on the uprise during this pandemic, some of which include healthcare, social media, telecommuting, e-learning, e-commerce, etc. The one thing a lot of these uprising sectors have in common is they operate on the internet. A practical example will be Amazon, during the pandemic Amazon has been on a steady uprise with billions of dollars generated in revenue in the first quarter of 2020 and the numbers keep rising.


Social media is becoming an incredible information provider for consumers, consumers now rely on social media not just for information but for their go-to products and services as well, this allows them to possess access to timely and frequent updates on the latest information, products, and services. As a business owner, it is important to take advantage of these dynamic platforms and attract new customers for your business and connect with already existing customers.


Due to the transparency and reliability of social media, consumers become more and more powerful than before. The social media reviews and opinions affect the purchase decision process of consumers on a large basis.


Every business has its target audience and whatever demographic that audience belongs to, they most likely can be found online. The power of social media can not be overemphasized and for businesses to thrive they need to utilize this power or risk the chance of becoming obsolete.


Social media Tips to influence Consumer buying behavior.



  • Actively listening and engaging in conversations happening in your field- Most industry conversations taking place online won't be happening on your Facebook page or in your groups. This is why you need to actively monitor relevant keywords and hashtags being used on social media.


  • Encourage Reviews - Consumers look for reviews and recommendations from past users of a product or service before patronizing the business. Unfortunately, offering recommendations for your own products or services doesn't quite hold the same clout as hearing it from an impartial source.


  • Attract new customers by running social media contests - Competitions can not only be a great way to increase your social media following but to generate leads for your business. Given that contests are free or inexpensive to create and run, you have very little to lose.


  • Have a business blog or website - Content marketing costs less than traditional marketing, yet generates approximately 3x more leads.

Directing your social media followers to your blog lets you provide them with additional content that may be impossible to share on social media.


  • Quick response to inquiries on social media - Responding quickly and respectfully can actually increase trust in your brand, while also letting you show off your customer service skills to anyone who sees your response. This applies to negative comments as well.


  • Invest in social ads - Until you have successfully built up a large and targeted social media following, you'll likely need to invest in some social ads. Most social media platforms offer ways to pay for increased views, clicks, and engagement.


  • Become a known entity using social media groups - People want to buy from those whom they know and trust. And one way to become known is to create and actively participate in social media groups.


  • Form real relationships - The power of social media is that it lets you form real relationships and connections with your prospects and customers. But this will mean going beyond the typical "respond to complaints" and "like compliments" strategy.

The more your followers see you as a real person, the more they'll trust you. Some ways to break through and show your personal side include direct messaging users who mention you; moving social media conversations to phone or Skype; and encouraging your fans and followers to email you...and then actually responding to them.


  • Build your email list through free offers - One of the best ways to do this is by promoting free offers to your fans and followers, both through organic posts and paid social ads. This could be a discount post e.g. get 5% off when you join our list, a free info product ("Download our free eBook"), or access to member-only deals or content.

This is a far preferable strategy for trying to make direct sales to your fans and followers. Since people are generally on social media to engage - not to buy - it tends to be a much more effective and less off-putting strategy.


  • Being generous with your knowledge (no-strings-attached)- sharing your knowledge and expertise can go a long way towards attracting new customers or clients. This will mean answering questions in groups, sharing your insights in social media posts, and blogging regularly.


Why are consumers shopping online?



There is a wide range of reasons why online shopping is preferred to physical shopping by consumers, it is important to know what the reasons are to help your business know how best to serve your customers.


  • Products are only sold online - Some products that are not available in physical stores are sold online and are available to be shipped and delivered to the customer.

  • More convenient - Some people find it a lot more convenient to shop online than go to physical stores. It is easier to shop from the comfort of your home or wherever you choose to shop from than to physically go down to a store.

  • Less time-consuming - Online shopping has made it easier for consumers to shop whenever time permits with the simple click of a button,

  • Want to avoid the crowd - The implication of a crowded store begins before you step foot into the store, such as finding a parking spot. Also when you get into a large store or a supermarket, navigating your way through can sometimes be tricky. A lot of people dislike shopping in a crowd.

  • Easy to have gifts shipped to the recipient - You can order a gift online and get it delivered directly to the recipient.

  • Easier to compare more item features at a time - You can compare multiple item features online which can not be done while shopping in physical stores.

  • Offers a wider range of goods - there is no limit to the number of items you can purchase online and it comes with little or no inconvenience. In a physical store, you could get exhausted from moving around in search of the perfect item, you would want to spend all day at the store if you find it hard to make a decision.

  • Usually find deals online - A lot of the best deals are offered to customers online. There are also days dedicated just for discounts such as black Friday

  • Catalogs encourage online shopping

  • Health and Safety - Due to the pandemic, people would rather shop from the comfort and safety of their homes as opposed to going to the physical stores.


Conclusion


Social media has been extensively used in recent years since its invention, it has been used for different business purposes, to promote new products and services, and to stay connected with customers. The direct connection between communication and promotion has given a perfect opportunity for businesses to use social media to bridge this marketing gap.


The eruption of social media usage as a means of marketing has a positive impact on consumer behavior. Customer relationship puts the consumer in a better position to know all that is needed about the products offered, hence consumers are stronger in decision making.

From a business perspective, businesses and consumers can communicate directly by social media with each other which helps improve their understanding of the customers’ needs.


Consumers today are progressively utilizing technology and particularly social media as an effective tool in their online shopping process.

Interacting with consumers on social media may result in increasing potential consumers and the probability of turning potential consumers into real shoppers.

In addition to that, social media encourages those shoppers to promote and share their purchases and experience among their friends by giving their positive or negative opinions towards their purchased product.


You need to start building your online presence today.



BY: Amina Momoh

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