With the new update to Facebook, and the recent implementation of Google Plus, brand marketing is moving to different heights. Marketing teams and PR professionals are rushing to stay ahead of the curve, integrate these new updates into their advertising, and reevaluating marketing strategies. The game is changing, and it’s changing quickly, so how do you remain relevant in a constantly changing online world?
Social Media Purchasing Influence
According to a recent study conducted by Knowledge Networks, the “purchasing decisions of 38 million 13 to 80 year olds in the U.S. are now influenced in various ways by social media – up 14% in just six months.” Take a look at these numbers from KnowledgeNetworks.com:
• 23.1 million discover new brands or products through social media (up 22% from 2010)
• 22.5 million use SoMe to learn about unfamiliar brands or products (up 9%)
• 17.8 million are strongly influenced in their purchase decisions by opinions in social media (up 19%)
• 15.1 million refer to social media before making purchase decisions (up 29%)
Remember these numbers.
Google Plus and F8 (the new Facebook) focus on sharing and engagement. When a user conducts a Google search, the SERPS (search engine results page) will show not only the most relevant results based on the keyword search, but the most relevant results based on the users location, their history of clicks on websites, and (wait for it…) what their friends are saying about websites. When a user gives a website a “Plus One,” that website will show up in every ‘Friend’s’ search results. This is engagement based on the fact that your “Circle of Friends” have chosen certain websites to be recognized. Based on that recognition by Friends, those websites will rank higher in your search results.
Facebook takes that concept and literally explodes it. With F8, the emphasis has shifted from the powerful “Likes” to simple actions. Canvas Apps are the future, and they are how brands are going to need to stay involved in their Fans lives. Facebook has become a tool for recording every single aspect of a user’s life, from what music they are listening to at that exact moment, to what book they are reading in real-time. With F8, the emphasis has also shifted from simple “Check Ins” at various locations to what a user is doing at that location, and with whom.
Capitalizing on Engagement
Facebook is literally forcing brands to create more engagement with their Fans. Brands will need to understand that higher engagement from a smaller Fan base will do far more for their product that low engagement from a large Fan base.
Engagement Marketing is a “marketing strategy that directly engages consumers and invites and encourages consumers to participate in the evolution of a brand. Rather than looking at consumers as passive receivers of messages, engagement marketers believe that consumers should be actively involved in the production and co-creation of marketing programs, developing a relationship with that brand.”
Did you catch that last part…”developing a relationship with that brand.” Remember those numbers from the Knowledge Networks study? Here’s where integration comes into play. At the heart of every consumer is the need for acceptance, the need to share, and the need to communicate and interact. There is no better example of this human condition than the success of Facebook. And now with F8, when a Friend mentions that they “Watched Bridesmaids on Netflix” (instead of “Liked” the Bridesmaids Facebook Page), all you need to do is hover your mouse over that stream to watch the exact same movie on the exact same platform, instantly!