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June 2, 2009

Connecting Social Media to Sales … Sometimes.

In this post: Jaimy explores why social media can drive sales in some industries vs. others …

Jaimy SzymanskiAs social media becomes more mainstream in business, the feat of driving sales with its tactics becomes increasingly important and, often times, necessary for its survival amidst other marketing endeavors.

But thankfully, a new study by Knowledge Networks finds that social media users do in fact turn to their personal online networks when making purchase decisions – sometimes, depending on the industry. The report details a variety of verticals, but here are the top four ‘sometimes’ indicators:

Although the percentage of users who turn to social media networks ‘regularly’ is quite low, the ‘sometimes’ respondents do look promising in the arenas of travel, retail, restaurants and mobile.

Why these four industries? A few reasons, I think:

  1. Because they’re generally low- or medium-involvement in terms of the decision making process vs. other products or services. The only exception may be travel services, depending on what sort of information is being sought out.
  2. Related to the previous, they all deal with expendable income so are not necessarily the most crucial of purchases. Seeking advice from who are many times ‘strangers’ doesn’t seem so crazy if the purchase isn’t necessary or that life-altering.
  3. And finally, because they’re highly customer service-oriented. For example: Travel services, and their corresponding Websites, have consistently scored high in Forrester Research’s positive customer experience assessments due, in part, to their often outstanding commitment to servicing the customer. Industries and companies that are very focused on customer service are often the first to adopt social media tactics to create yet another channel for customer connection. So, this could impact the amount of advice sought by social media users if they are directly connecting with specific companies or their representatives.

This data is important for industries not listed (or, those with lower percentages) as well. Now, there are other markets to compare oneself to: What are successful retailers doing in social media that I can adapt to my industry? How is Restaurant A’s presence on Twitter or Facebook driving Website traffic? Could my travel agency’s unbridled passion for customer service be the driving force behind users turning to social media to connect with them?

It’s obvious that, as time goes on, the ‘regularly’ column will rise, although likely never surpass the ‘sometimes’ indicators. The question is though – Will these industries always remain on top? Or, will there come a point when anything goes, regardless of products, services, or age and lifesyle of user?

Doubtful, but wouldn’t that be interesting?