For Gen Xers and beyond, it’s hard to remember a world without Facebook. More than transforming the way the world interacts, social media has delivered new opportunities for marketers. Before Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest and other popular platforms, figuring out what consumers want — and how to engage them with your brand — was a huge challenge. Marketers spent millions on qualitative and quantitative research to get consumer data that often fell short in predicting future behaviors.
Fast-forward to the present and it seems as if people are willing to share their whole lives on social media. According to a recent report from TechCrunch, 2 billion people in the world (almost a third of the world’s population) use Facebook, followed by YouTube with 1.5 billion users and Instagram, with 700 million users.
Marketers have learned to use these platforms to collect data, target customers and engage directly with them. Advanced technologies enable marketers to access vast amounts of information using tactics such as keyword performance metrics and attribution modeling.
Following the Consumer Trail
Shopping in the digital age is a new experience. With so much information available online, consumers now take the time to be well-informed before making big purchases. They research and discuss products, look for reviews and ask for friends’ opinions before pulling the trigger. Brands can monitor these discussions every step of the way and can measure purchase intent.
High-definition consumer profiles based on customer interactions across social media sites are now available. Savvy marketers use this information to engage customers with content and experiences relating to the brand.
To illustrate the value of measuring purchase intent, consider the story of a recent failed marketing campaign by a luxury car company. The main reason people buy cars, especially luxury cars, is because of the way they look and perform.
The luxury car company’s campaign tried to deviate from this, instead focusing its attention on the drivers. The campaign consisted in telling real-life stories about the drivers’ triumphs over adversity. The company asked their social media followers to tweet, Instagram or Vine the stories that inspired them the most but they did not respond. Instead, negative reactions came in throughout the campaign until it was pulled two weeks later. Customers perceived the company got distracted from its main purpose, which is to make amazing vehicles. Once they realized that the campaign was a failure, the focus went back to the cars and engagement was restored over time.
This self-inflicted wound to the brand could have been avoided through a well-planned initiative to measure consumer purchasing intent prior to the launch of the campaign. Customers follow this company to admire and potentially buy its cars, not to see inspirational stories about other people. If customers do not see the product or can’t relate to it, there’s no way to evaluate their intent to purchase it.