Posted June 23, 2014 4:06 pm by with 0 comments

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WSJ Report Social MediaConsidering what I do for a living it worries me to see a report like the one Gallup published today. 62% of consumers say that social media has no influence whatsoever over their purchasing decisions.

Even 34% of consumers who like / follow a brand on social media said what they saw there didn’t influence their decision to buy.

Really? Or could it be that customers don’t know their own minds? I may not recall seeing an ad for a certain brand of peanut butter but still I choose that one over the competing brand when I go to the store. Coincidence?

Brand recognition is a huge part of social media. Those posts and videos and Pinterest pins may not lead to a direct click but over time they make an impression.

The Gallup poll also says that consumers are much more likely to be influenced by friends and family than a branded Twitter or Facebook post. I believe that. But what if the family member is passing on a coupon code he found on Twitter? Or that person shopped at a store he follows on Facebook then shared that good experience with his own followers.

I know traffic and clicks are down on all the major social media sites but that doesn’t mean we aren’t deriving some benefit from our actions. Or is that just something we tell ourselves so we don’t feel like we’re wasting time?

Here’s the bottom line from me and the Gallup poll – posting simply to increase your follower numbers is a waste of time. As is paying for likes and running a broad contest that brings in people who will never shop with you when the contest is done.

It’s quality time. It’s taking care of our loyal customers time.

Use your Facebook page to keep your current customers informed and engaged. Show them how to use the product. Share related information from other sources. Give them a reason to type your page name into the Facebook search engine.

I belong to a farm co-op. I follow their Facebook page but rarely see any of their posts in my feed. Doesn’t matter. Every week, after my farm basket arrives, I make it a point to go to their page to get recipes and tips on how to store and use the fresh produce. Even if those posts landed in my feed, it might be bad timing so it really doesn’t matter and I hope they’re not paying to boost those posts. They created a regular feature that I remember and go back to week after week.

And, because I’m having a good experience, I mention them to people all the time and I share posts from their page. That’s how they get new customers. Not because they have great content but because they posted relevant content that I wanted to share.

I don’t doubt that social media is less influential than it was a few years ago. There are more people in the space, more network options for users, more companies selling things online so more posts and more ad dollars won’t help. What you need to do is concentrate on engaging with the customers you currently have then they’ll do the selling for you.