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Social Media Weaves Its Way Through Customer Life Process

Social networks facilitate brand discovery, research and connection

Although social media users’ top methods of discovering, researching and keeping in touch with brands vary, they rely heavily on social networks throughout the entire customer life process, according to a September 2013 study by Wildfire.

Investments in the social advertising space are paying off for companies looking to boost awareness of their brand, product or service. The Wildfire report, which was conducted by Forrester Consulting, found that paid ads on social networks are the top method of brand and product discovery for social network users who engage with brands on social media. Forty-one percent of them reported that’s one way they typically become aware of new goods on the market.

The likes of Bing and Google are consistently beneficial to 34% of social network users in the discovery phase, but opinions from friends and followers on social networks are almost just as useful. Thirty-three percent of those surveyed said they typically discover new brands and products by reading and posting messages on social networks.

When it comes to the research phase, 40% of US social network users said a search engine is how they typically learn more about brands, products or services they are considering using or purchasing. Social media is still a crutch in this stage of the consumer life process with 37% of consumers reporting they rely on social networks to research before buying.

Once they become loyal customers of a particular brand, it would seem natural that consumers who engage with brands on social networks would significantly prefer to use this channel to keep in touch with them. But this is not the case. Fifty-five percent of social network users reported they typically keep in touch by visiting brands’ websites—the top method of staying connected to a brand. A slightly lower share— 52%— said they commonly visit social network pages as a way of staying in touch with their favorite brands.

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