The Not-So-Subtle Influence of Social Media Marketing (2023)
Researchers explore the impact of social media marketing on consumer intentions—here are the implications for your brand’s SMM strategy.
By 2025, more than half of the earth’s population is expected to engage in one or more social media platforms. This is excellent news for brands who have long known that social media has an outsized influence on customer behavior.
To better understand how social media affects consumers, a team of marketing researchers conducted a 2022 study to explore how individual social media marketing activities (SMMAs) influence consumer intentions.
The results are nothing short of astounding. Let’s put it this way: if you’ve ever thought about putting more of your ad spend towards building your brand on social media, this study proves it’s well worth the investment.
Methodology For “Role of Social Media Marketing in Influencing Customer Intentions”
The study aimed to explore the relationships between social identification, purchasing intent, and overall consumer satisfaction.
Using an online community in Pakistan, the researchers elicited questionnaire responses from Facebook and Instagram users. They received 353 completed questionnaires, which were all used in the final analysis.
The questionnaires asked respondents to rate 31 items on a Likert scale, where 1=strongly disagree, 3=neutral, and 5=strongly agree. These items included statements such as:
- I intend to buy using social media in the near future.
- Using social media for shopping is fun.
- Brands’ pages on social media offer customized information search.
- I would like to pass along information on the brand, product, or services from social media to my friends.
- I see myself as part of the social media community.
Based on participants’ responses, researchers were able to create models that demonstrate the relationships between each of the following variables:
- Social media marketing activities (SMMAs)
- Social identification
- Continuance intention
- Participate intention
- Purchase intention
The Results: 4 Social Media Marketing Research Takeaways
You’ve undoubtedly seen the proliferation of brand accounts and, more recently, user-generated brand content on social media. And it’s no wonder—social media goes way deeper than brand awareness. It affects how users see themselves and more importantly, how they see themselves in relation to their favorite brands.
The study drew four crucial conclusions about the influence of social media marketing on influencing user intent:
- Social media marketing significantly impacts users’ social identification.
- Social identification correlates with participation on social media.
- Social identification correlates with purchasing decisions and continuance intention.
- Social identification influences users’ satisfaction with your brand.
In other words, SMMAs significantly affect social identification, which ultimately influences purchase decisions, participation decisions, and overall satisfaction.
What is social identification?
Like brands, consumers hope to project an image of their best selves to their community. Many brands have figured out how to use this natural desire to cultivate an image and signal community membership to create content that helps users in the process—often with a special product to help them along the way. We call this alignment with a brand’s identity “social identification.”
How does social identification work on social media?
You can probably think of a dozen instances of the social identification phenomenon in branding. It’s the reason people wear apparel repping their favorite hometown sports teams or slap bumper stickers touting their political affiliations—consumers use brands and affiliations as a means to define themselves.
It’s how friendly rivalries emerged between Android vs. Apple, Kraft vs. Velveeta, or Coca-Cola vs. Pepsi, culminating in life-long and sometimes passionate allegiances to one brand or the other.
If I identify as an “Apple” person (I do) and see a post affirming my creative nature (a personal point of pride), I feel empowered and emboldened to create (all while using my Macbook Pro as the canvas, of course). Of course, it’s no wonder I feel this way—Apple users skew predominantly female with a higher interest in social status than Android users, so everything checks out.
Social media marketing, then, should be about helping users find social identification through your brand. If you can align your image with that of your followers, your social media marketing strategy suddenly has a leg up on engagement, sales, and brand satisfaction.
How can brands foster social identification with their brand?
If a company can successfully help users identify with a particular brand community, they’ll foster strong relationships between the consumers and the brand. Nurturing such strong social identification starts with understanding your community’s values and preferences.
When you know what matters to your followers, you can craft social media posts that convey a sense of inclusion and connectedness—that’s social identification in action.
Additionally, members of your brand community should be given space to explain the guiding factors behind choosing your brand over that of competitors. From organic discussions and sharing of this knowledge, users get an opportunity to understand why they like a particular brand, thus enhancing brand loyalty and community cohesion.
Here are some other key tips for making the most of this study:
- Know your audience best. Not just their demographic info, but their deepest desires, their fears—don’t stop at who they are, but dig deeper into who they’re trying to become.
- Encourage participation whenever possible. Inspire customers to follow you on social media, comment on posts, and share your content whenever possible.
- Engage with your customers. Liking comments, replying to tweets and DMs, and resharing customers’ content helps create a sense of community.
- Take advantage of existing communities. Participate in online spaces that parallel your brand, such as local groups and industry- or interest-specific forums.
Ready To Supercharge Your Brand’s Social Media Marketing Strategy?
In the digital age, social media marketing is no longer just about brand awareness—it’s about building a community and creating meaningful customer experiences. By fostering positive social spaces in which they can engage with your brand and each other, you can generate the kind of customer loyalty and satisfaction that will carry your business to new heights.
But creating a thriving community around your brand takes marketing expertise—enter Hey.
Contact us today to talk about how we can help you build a social media presence that does your marketing work for you.