Here's an article that you should read.
I think it's a very important article. Not just because it disrupts the thinking that we’ve all had around the purchase funnel.
But because it puts social media into a context where it hasn’t been up to now.
The article was written by Nate Elliott – a vice president and principal analyst at Forrester Research.
Forrester has studied what consumers actually do in the marketplace. And guess where social media becomes an important factor?
After someone buys a product. AFTER. Not before. AFTER.
According to the article, the pathway to purchase works like this.
Discovery about the brand/product through mass media.
Exploration about the brand/product through online resources.
Purchase either online or in-store.
Ongoing discussion through social media as to whether they liked the product or not.
Consumers talk about the product on social media AFTER they buy the product.
Awareness – Exploration – Purchase – Ongoing Discussion
If you're into initials, it's DEPO.
If this process is correct, and if you evaluate it against what your own shopping reality is like, (I did, and it seemed pretty damn accurate), then advertisers are wasting a shitload of money trying to use social as a way for people to discover a product.
In fact, advertisers shouldn't even be in social media. Let social be the place where people talk to one another (sometimes about products, yes). What social shouldn't be is a place where advertisers try to talk to people.
What social shouldn't be used as is a reach or discovery platform.
Let’s break it down further. Discovery is where advertisers basically use the high reach platforms. It’s about getting as many people as possible to become aware of your proposition.
The objective here is how many.
Exploration is where conscious conversion either takes place or doesn’t. This isn’t about reach, it’s about depth. The objective here isn’t how many. It’s how long does the perspective consumer spend with your brand. The longer they spend with your brand, the greater the chance of making a sale.
What does this mean?
Online and offline need to work together synergistically – not duplicating each other’s efforts but complimenting each other’s efforts.
Offline's objective is how many.
Online's objective is how long.
If you have high numbers for both reach and depth, the purchase part will take care of itself.
As for the ongoing social aspect – that comes back to how good your product and service are.
It’s not based on advertising anymore.
It’s based on the consumer's experience.
A client of mine said something the other day that reinforces this.
He said that it used to be that if you screwed a customer, it was bad for the customer. But now when you screw a customer, it’s bad for the company because that customer will tell everyone about it through social media.
Discovery. Exploration. Purchase. Ongoing. DEPO.
Start thinking along these lines and I think you'll change the way you buy media. I think you’ll change the way you create advertising. And, I think you’ll change the way you sell products.
Which is why I think this was an important article.