Social media are not the powerful and persuasive marketing force many companies hoped they would be. When Gallup asked more than 18,000 consumers about the influence of social media on their buying decisions, 62% said they had no influence at all. Even among Millennials (those born after 1980), whom companies often think of as the core social media audience, 48% said these sites were not a factor in their decision-making.
The vast majority of consumers (94%) who use Facebook, Twitter, and other social networking channels do so to connect with family and friends. They are far less interested in learning about companies and/or their products, which implies that many companies have social media strategies in place that may be largely misdirected.
While many companies correlate the number of fans and followers with their social media success, Gallup also finds that these metrics can be misleading. Of the consumers who reported “liking” or following a company, 34% still said that social media had no influence on their purchasing behavior, while 53% said they had only some influence.
Consumers are more likely to engage with companies through social media when they believe those companies’ intentions are genuine. They look for real people and real communities. Therefore, companies that want to become part of the conversation must shift their social media initiatives to be more authentic, responsive, and compelling.