With Pinterest’s launch of its Business Pages this week, brands have one more web platform to consider when building out their online strategies. Pinterest has joined a growing list of social media sites – Facebook Business Pages, LinkedIn Company Pages, Twitter Brand pages, Google+ Business Pages – that offer company-specific pages that are intended to entice businesses to set up presences on their platforms.
When deciding which online properties to promote their brands on, companies should prioritize spending their resources on the sites that their customers and prospects frequent. It turns out that the top online destination that frequent social media users go when researching a product to make a purchase decision is….the brand’s website.
This finding shouldn’t be shocking, but it should be a wake up call. These days, some companies are so absorbed with their social media activities that they are de-prioritizing the attention they put into updating and growing their corporate websites. And yet, their websites continue to be the first stop most buyers make when contemplating a purchase.
The recent study by Edison Research sheds light on how buyers learn about brands online. Titled “The Social Habit,” the study primarily focuses on the online behaviors of the 58 million Americans, age 12+ years old, who engage in social media two or more times per day.
The study found that for 70% of these active social media users, a product’s website is the first or second place they go online to get pre-purchase information. One can presume that the frequency at which people who are not shifting their time online to social media activities visit brand websites when researching products is likely the same or even higher. Interestingly, 54% of the respondents cite online reviews as the first or second resource they check when conducting product research. Rounding out the list: 33% get recommendations from Facebook friends, 18% get opinions from people they follow on Twitter, 13% visit blogs and 13% check online message boards or forums.
Of the active social media users who follow brands on one or more social platforms, the majority turns to Facebook first when getting information about a product or company through social media. The study found that:
- 69% Consult Facebook Company Pages
- 19% Consult a friend on Facebook
- 10% Have never used social media in this way
- 5% Check a company’s Twitter page
- 3% Consult a friend on Twitter
- 3% Check a company’s Pinterest page
- 2% Check another social media platform
One of the main tenets of current day marketing is to constantly test, track and revise strategies and accompanying tactics. This is the right approach for gauging social media. Social media platforms will likely continue to play an increasingly important role in the sales cycle, with Facebook clearly at the top of the list. Testing social media strategies on a few platforms where your buyers spend their time to determine what works and what doesn’t is a prudent approach.
As the study showed, online review sites such as Yelp, Amazon and Google Places, have a very big influence on a buyer’s decision-making process. Companies should make sure to monitor relevant review sites regularly and not assume that opinions shared on social media are now the substitute for these forums. But, it is a company’s website that remains its greatest online asset and should continue to receive ongoing investment of time and resources.