How Does Social Media Impact Consumer Buying Behavior?

Social media has become an indispensable tool for consumers online in this day and age. It’s no surprise that all kinds of businesses have turned to social media to find and connect with their target market. The figures don’t lie either: consumers are 71% more likely to make a purchase based on social media referrals.  

Millennials are considered as the generation that spends most of their time online, 47% of their purchases are influenced by social media. They are also 1.6 times more likely to use digital channels to learn about new products. This puts social media platforms in a prime position for executing effective digital marketing campaigns.


The Consumer Buying Behavior 

With these facts in mind, understanding how consumer buying behavior works can help establish your best practices before investing in social media advertising and other marketing tactics.

Consumer buying behavior is the study of how individuals and organizations select and use products and services. This primarily focuses on psychology, motivations, and behaviors, such as how people choose between brands, how they research and shop, and how marketing campaigns can be improved so brands can effectively influence them.

Three factors can influence consumer buying behavior: personal, psychological, and social. Personal factors deal with an individual’s interests and opinions, which are affected by their demographics. Psychological factors are based on their perceptions and attitudes, including their ability to comprehend information and how they see their needs. Finally, social factors are made up of one’s peer groups, socioeconomic classes, and even social media influence.


While each person has their own considerations for making purchases, everyone goes through what is known as the buying process. This process is constant, with consumers sitting at a particular stage at any given time.


  • Need Recognition

This stage is where the consumers realize that they need something and that making a purchase will address the need. It can range from wearing out a shirt and needing a replacement to seeing a movie trailer, wanting to buy a ticket, and watching it out of curiosity or interest. 

For businesses, this is an opportunity to use other marketing strategies to help prospects recognize a need or reevaluate an existing one.


  • Search for Product Information

At this stage, your prospects are looking for more information about the product they want to purchase. This is where product reviews, websites, blog posts, and search ads can come in handy. Establishing your brand’s credibility in the industry, like through paid ads and SEO, can help convert your prospects into making their purchase with you.


  • Product Evaluation

Given that many different products could address their needs, consumers often use evaluative criteria based on their priorities. To help narrow down their choices, they also consider their needs. At this stage, your marketing strategies should be aiming to convince prospects that their criteria match your product’s strengths.


  • Purchase Decision

The consumer has looked at multiple items and compared them based on their evaluative criteria. They are now at the cusp of the critical decision: to make the purchase or not. Businesses need to focus on creating a sense of security and give compelling reminders of their needs.


  • Purchase

This is the stage where the consumer has decided to make the purchase. However, it’s still possible to lose a prospect due to things like complicated checkout processes, difficult-to-navigate ecommerce sites, and unresponsive or malfunctioning elements. Keeping the process convenient and streamlined can spell the difference between a closed or lost sale.


  • Post-purchase Use and Evaluation

The Buying Process doesn’t end at the sale. Your customer’s experience with the product would dictate if they were satisfied by the purchase or not. Post-purchase surveys and thank-you emails to your customers can significantly help address any issues that may arise from dissatisfaction while cultivating a relationship with those who felt satisfied.


Social Media Factors That Influence Consumer Buying Behavior

As earlier mentioned, social media can play a huge role in influencing consumers in their purchases. Here are some of the ways that social media affects the behaviors of your target market.


  • Reviews from influencers

The term “social influencers” refers to individuals with a significant following on social media. Influencers are social media-savvy and often tag the store or brand of the products they are using, giving these institutions a broad reach over specific demographics. 

Regardless if their posts are sponsored or not, their followers can be swayed in either picking up or passing on a purchase.


  • Reviews from social media connections

Social media’s initial purpose was to connect people and allow them to share information. Now, social media can be a powerful tool for users to voice their opinion on a product or brand with faster speed and broader reach. With 81% of consumers considering purchases based on a friend’s suggestions, there’s no denying the influence it has on your target market.


  • Brand’s social media presence

It’s not enough to be selling products and services online. Your brand must stand out and be recognizable amidst the sea of information available to social media users. Having a consistent and distinct voice on your chosen social media platform—plus a regularly updated feed—can boost your brand image and credibility to your existing followers and prospects, making conversions more likely to happen.


  • Social media advertising

As social media continuously reaches a wider audience, social media advertising has made it possible for hyperfocused targeting and retargeting. This allows brands to make more strategic marketing strategies that reach their market while maximizing their resources.


  • “Trending” and “Popular” algorithms

Platforms like Facebook and Instagram have moved from showing posts on their newsfeeds chronologically to displaying posts with more engagements first. Brands and businesses can take advantage of this algorithm by encouraging likes, comments, and shares on their content. This move can also foster conversations between companies and consumers, and influence overall brand image.



Use Social Media to Your Brand’s Advantage

Consumer behavior, while still driven by personal, psychological, and social factors, has changed with the advent of social media. With access to an almost-infinite ocean of information at any given time, businesses have to seize every opportunity to be in front of their target audiences. 

Have the right strategies, and your brand can surely take advantage of social media when it comes to converting visitors into customers.


Rob FitzGerald

Rob Fitzgerald is the Founder and CEO of Connext Digital. He has amassed a wealth of digital marketing experience since the late 90s. He is authentic in wanting to help businesses increase their bottom line through strategic customer acquisition efforts. Outside of work, Rob enjoys watching Notre Dame Fighting Irish Football and the Washington Redskins. He lives to watch his kids play sports and is very active in coaching youth athletics.