Every Social Marketers aim should be to drive sales either by the more opaque methods like brand building or directly by product promotion. In a previous article I looked at how Social Media engagement can influence purchase intent in this one I will drill down and look specifically at the value of Social Sharing – So pay attention Content Marketers!
We all know that a Social Share is one of the holy grails for organic growth on our Social platforms, but also sharing is becoming a powerful driver of product endorsement and purchase.
Online and Social Sharing
Lets take a moment to look at the make up of sharing. It is beyond doubt that consumers are turning to online recommendations and content to make informed purchases. A Social share is akin to good old fashioned word of mouth, its also not a one way street. Consumers may share your content which acts as a recommendation from them to their friends, but they might also share with you in the form of Reviews. Lets take a quick look at the types of sharing:
- Social Sharing – Personal Recommendations, reviews, or opinions of your product via Social Media (Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest etc) or via email.
- Consumer Reviews – Product and service reviews left by users on your site (Think Amazon product reviews) or on 3rd party review sites (Tripadvisor / Yelp)
- Consumer Ratings – Where consumers can leave a score review, generally most sites use a 5 star system (Facebook Reviews, Amazon, eBay)
- Professional Reviews – Either Paid or Earned professional reviews of products or services, a great content marketing opportunity (Car review websites)
For me this instantly asks the question, do you have Social Sharing enabled on your sites, eShop or blog? Do you allow reviews and recommendations on your products or services? Do you actively encourage reviews on 3rd party sites like Tripadvisor? Do you have the correct sharing options? I would recommend all the main Social platforms: Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Pinterest, LinkedIN if considering the B2B market. I often see Pinterest missed off the sharing options on sites and would strongly recommend add it to the top level options are its ranked 3rd for sharing and surpasses email.
The real value of a share is based on 3 factor; Strength a Great review is better then a Good one, Who made the review – Family member, close friend, work colleague etc and finally Source where the share comes from. Research has shown that strength is a much more influential factor than who made the review or its source in fact online sharing is almost roughly equivalent to word of mouth personal recommendation. This is an important point for marketers a great review has far more value and return.
How can we use this to our advantage? I am a firm believer in using customers as marketing partners, its not just companies like Apple that have product evangelists among its customer base. Good audience research will lead you to your businesses evangelists and these should be encouraged and enabled to help you spread your message. In Digital marketing circles we often talk about earned content having more weight and I believe the same is true about earned reviews and shares. In Social Media we often call these evangelists ‘Super Fans’ and there are a wealth or startups and social tool developers that can help you identify and foster these.
Conversely the impact of a negative review or share is just as strong in the opposite direction. I would advocate that any business approaches negative sharing in a positive and open manner. As discussed in my article looking at the impact of social engagement on purchase intent you can still influence consumers in the way you deal with issues, suddenly marketing becomes customer service and you have an opportunity to project brand and product values which can negate bad reviews and shares.