Social influence has always been one of the most powerful forces at work in our society. And today, with social networks like Facebook and Twitter as the most popular destinations on the Internet, we have entered an age where social influence rules.
According to Nielsen, Americans spent 27 billion hours on Facebook last year, which is more than was spent on email or search engines. This mass adoption of social networking has resulted in a fundamental shift in consumer buying behavior, namely in brand awareness and consideration.
Historically, the individuals who influenced purchases were close family members and friends, or celebrities in advertisements. Remember when you wanted to Be Like Mike? But today, consumers are connecting with co-workers, classmates and friends of friends via social media. In doing so, they are now exposed to more recommendations and experiences, and this shift in community interaction is effecting consumer purchase behavior trends. In fact, consumers now make more than 50% of brand decisions based on what they see friends post on social media.
“Consumers now make more than 50% of brand decisions based on what they see friends post on social media.”
In short, we are starting to make purchasing decisions based on the conversations we are having with the members of our social graph. Even Facebook executive Dan Rose understands the dominance of social influence:
“When I raise my hand and say, I like Einstein (Bros.) bagels, and then one of my friends sees that ad, they’re going to see my name in that ad. [Through Facebook’s partnership with the media-research firm Nielsen,] we found that when my friend’s name is in an ad, I’m over 60% more likely to remember the ad, and I’m over four times more likely to purchase the product.”
According to a report from Razorfish, this increase in social influence is leading to the emergence of a new marketing framework called influencer marketing. In implementing an influencer strategy, brands leverage influencers (individuals with the influence to affect consumer purchase decisions on both a grand and micro-level) for various marketing goals to achieve business objectives.
To learn more about influencer marketing and the rise of the micro-influencer, check out our Ultimate Guide to Influencer Marketing.