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Social media continues to play major role in marketing, even if its influence on sales is in question

June 27, 2014

Most businesses are betting big on social media marketing, hoping that posts and advertisements regarding their products on websites like Facebook and Twitter will help to send a brand new set of clients to their product pages and online credit card payment processing terminals.

Most businesses are betting big on social media marketing, hoping that posts and advertisements regarding their products on websites like Facebook and Twitter will help to send a brand new set of clients to their product pages and online credit card payment processing terminals. For instance, a recent report from Forrester showed that – despite some recent reports to the contrary – teenagers are still using Facebook in a major way, illustrating to retailers that the website remains one of the surest ways to connect with young consumers. 

“Ever since Facebook CFO David Ebersman admitted last October that young teens were visiting the site slightly less frequently, most have accepted as fact that young people are fleeing Facebook en masse,” explained Nate Elliot, who serves marketing leadership professionals at Forrester, in a recent blog post. “Ivy League researchers have forecast that the service will be all but dead by 2017; President Obama recently claimed that young people ‘don’t use Facebook anymore’; and when comScore recently reported that fewer college students were using Facebook, media outlets ran stories on the social platforms college kids now prefer … But if you take a closer look at the data it tells a very different story.”

According to the Forrester report, all of the studies and statements noting that teens are trending away from Facebook are completely overblown – which should offer some solace to retailers worrying they had invested in marketing via the wrong platform. For instance, the study found that almost 30 percent of U.S. youth between the ages of 12 and 17 use Facebook “all the time” – meaning they log in much more than three times every single day. For retailers, that means this audience is available and ready to engage with brands, illustrating how and why Facebook is such a valuable marketing tool for any organization in search of a young audience. 

“The results were clear: Facebook remains young users’ favorite social network,” Elliot concluded. “More than three-quarters of online youth use Facebook – twice as many as use Pinterest or Tumblr or Snapchat … And 28 percent of young users who are on Facebook say they use it ‘all the time,’ a higher percentage than said this about any other social network.”

Is social media having a significant effect on product purchases?
Despite Forrester’s findings, the debate still rages on regarding whether or not social media marketing campaigns help to send new customers to online or mobile credit card payment processing terminals. A recent Gallup poll, for instance, suggested that American consumers are quite split in regards to this specific practice: roughly 35 percent said that social media has either some or “a great deal of” influence over their purchasing decisions, while 62 percent reported that social media has no effect on their purchasing decisions whatsoever. 

However, many businesses continue to bet on the fact that consumers are just as influenced by social posts as they are by radio and television advertisements, if not more so. For example, car manufacturer Lincoln recently announced that it would be primarily promoting its newest vehicle through a “social media influencer campaign” – which will aim to get people talking about the car on sites like Facebook and Twitter – rather than use a more traditional, and more costly, print and visual media campaign.

“We use social media to talk to our fans on any number of topics,” said Amanda Sudano, singer-songwriter for Johnnyswim, a musical group that will be teaming with Lincoln as a part of its coming social media promotional campaign. “It will be exciting to have Lincoln be a part of that conversation.”

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