GroupM Search and comScore, two reliable sources of research about online buying behavior, recently released findings of a new study that focused on the impact and search and social media, and the synergy of each channel. The results were quite interesting and may provide insights that could alter your current search and social media strategies. A meaningful excerpt from the study revealed the following:
- 58% of purchase decisions started with an online search compared to only 18% that started their research with social media.
- 51% of people in the study only used online search in their decision making process, while 48% used a combination of search and social media.
What can we conclude from this powerful data?
- Search remains “king of the hill” when it comes to online research. From an online marketing perspective, firms who put more effort into social media compared to search engines will not see as good results as those who invest in search engines first.
- Social media is gaining in importance. It has quickly become a place where shoppers can ask their friends about a certain brand or service provider. Consequently, companies should be investing in optimizing their brand on the appropriate social networks – LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, etc.
Here are some suggestions about how to make this research data actionable for you…
- If you are in the B2C space, check your visibility online. Key in some important search phrases for your business and see what comes up. Is your firm positioned above-the-fold on the 1st page of Google or Bing? Are your competitors? Also, take a look at your LinkedIn and Facebook pages. Are you keeping things up to date? Are you posting credible, customer-friendly content? Are you being one of those annoying marketers constantly throwing out messages that scream “buy me, buy me, buy me?
- If you are in the B2B space, check your visibility online just like in number #1 above. Take a look at your LinkedIn profile. Do you look credible on LinkedIn? Do you present a credible competitive advantage on LinkedIn? Are you putting our content on LinkedIn that positions you as a “thought leader”?
- Regardless of what space you operate in, do a search for your company’s name. Click into your Google Places and Bing Local profiles and see what is in there. If you have some bad reviews, you need to figure out how to deal with these and get more good reviews. Build out these local online profiles as these are becoming more and more important, and getting much more visibility than before.
In summary, search engines remain the most important resource for online research about your company, and the social media platforms are clearly gaining in their importance. Get good positioning in the search engines and make sure your social media properties (Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Local Profiles, etc.) are built out and populated with meaningful information for your target markets.