ComScore recently published a new study indicating that brand impressions delivered through Facebook have a measurable impact on purchase behavior. We’ve known for some time that a fan/follower of a brand is more likely to purchase or recommend a brand, but I’ve always struggled with that concept. After all, correlation does not always indicate causality. In other words, of course they are more likely to purchase as a fan or follower – why do you think they decided to opt-in in the first place?
The interesting part of this study is the suggestion that brand messaging impacts purchase behavior of friends of friends as well. The potential “viral” impact that social seems to promise is exactly what made marketers fall in love with the medium to begin with and is likely the biggest source of disappointment for the ones that set expectations and jump in without really understanding how to be successful in the space. These stats might renew some faith in marketers that may have been put off by lackluster social performance in the past.
How To Improve Viral Performance
The objective of advertising has always been to get as many of the right eyeballs on your message as possible. Considering that 1 out of every 7 minutes spent online is owned by social media, understanding how to be successful there is only going to become more important. Here’s the rub: In order to reap the rewards of a robust social presence you have to be willing to make the investment required to become the storyteller.
In other channels including television, mobile, and digital advertisers are afforded the luxury of simply inserting a call to action where people are choosing to spend their time. With social, you have to be the one creating enough value for your audience to want to spend time there. Shouting call-to-actions through your channels is not enough, in fact it’s detrimental.
Here’s a few pointers for what your brand can do to get the viral lift you’re looking for:
Think values not product - The trick here is to first articulate what values or benefits your brand stands for, identifying which of those the particular audience of a given channel (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn etc.) identify with, and determine what motives they have for engaging within that channel (establish authority, position themselves within the community, express values/belief etc.). Once you do those things, it will become clear what your story should be for each channel.
Produce engaging content - Images produce the most engagement by far on Facebook. They are immediately consumable, experience a longer lifespan in news feeds thanks to Edgeranker and Facebook’s timeline format is perfect for them.
Make your community an extension of your brand- Listening is just as important as producing here. Beyond just measuring what resonates and what doesn’t, take a hard look at what your audience is asking for and don’t be afraid to ask them what they want to see. Bringing down the wall between your brand and your fans is a big step toward realizing broader social value beyond just marketing – it’s a step towards becoming a social business.