According a recent Gallup poll, most Americans say social media has zero influence on their purchasing decisions. For some of you out there, this may come as welcome news, as many small business owners find managing a business-orientated Facebook or Twitter account to be extremely time consuming… and admittedly quite distracting.
More than 18,000 U.S. adults were surveyed with only 5% reporting that social media has a “great deal of influence” on what they buy. 30% said social media has “some influence”, while a whopping 62% said it has no influence whatsoever.
While seemingly all the rage these days, the significance of social media to marketing to the American consumer has always been viewed with some skepticism when considered against more traditional promotional strategies. However, it is possible that poll respondents underestimate the quiet power of social media’s influence. After all, with American companies spending a combined $5.1 billion on social media advertising in 2013, there clearly must be something there.
What gives? It’s no secret that consumers have a deep distain for outright “buy me” techniques. And being the independence-loving, freethinkers that we are, who really wants to admit that they are “greatly influenced” by the digital string pulling of complete strangers?
So, is it time to delete the blog, purge the Facebook business page, and (purposefully) forget updates to Google Plus?
Absolutely not. Let’s use the results of this poll to alter the way we as businesses view social media.
Social media is so beloved because it often serves as a direct link to things we care about. Social media mocks distances and physical separations; it brings us closer to our interest and passions. Social media should not be used solely as a tool to generate sales, but rather as a vehicle to keep customers and potential customers informed about your business. They are your friend/fan/follower for a reason, they are interested in what you have to offer. Don’t betray this relationship by shoving ads down their throats. Reward their patronage with useful commentary, important content, and keeping an open avenue for their feedback. Of course you can throw in the occasional sales pitch, but surround it with valuable content.
Social media is and will continue to be a potent tool for small businesses. Encourage your customers to share their experiences, engage with them when they reach out to you. Attempt to present your marketing in a useful way and you will be rewarded for your efforts.