Social media doesn’t influence people; people influence people

When I am looking for a new restaurant, dentist or even a mechanic, I often find myself relying on Facebook to help me find the best places in town. Now the reality is, Facebook is the platform, and it’s the power of my network I am truly seeking. Facebook and all the other social media tools out there have simply provided a platform where we can connect.

With this in mind, it’s not surprising that a recent Gallup study (whose results were shared in this article by Ragan’s PR Daily) found that social media has very little influence on Americans’ purchasing decisions. This statement alone doesn’t share the whole story by any means. People are influenced by the people, businesses and organizations they have grown to know and trust. So no, Facebook may not be the reason why I switched insurance providers, but it did play a role in how I received the recommendation from several of my trusted friends.

The article brings to light a few interesting details of how the study was done and also makes some incredibly valid points. One very important point is that, despite these dismal findings, you shouldn’t close all of your social media accounts and move on. In my personal experience, having some social media presence is just as important as having a working website for your business.

With this in mind, knowing that it is people who influence people, it makes it even more important to have a personable, real voice that shows through in your posts. People should feel like there is a person on the other side of the computer, even if the page is for a business. People are not interested in your self-serving advertising posts, at least until you have given them a reason to care about your business. Social media takes time. The ROI is not always clear; however, growing a tribe that believes in your business and is eager to refer their friends is a long-term investment that is worth the time and money you are able to allocate to it.

Megan Neri serves as Director of Client Relations at Imagine Communications. Contact Megan at mneri@weareimagine.com.

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