How Social Media Really Influences Decisions

As an early snowstorm approaches I have been catching up on some long lost emails and articles from the past few months in hopes of reaching the holy grail of inbox zero (down to 35 right now!)

One of the articles that jumped out from the pile talked about a recent study from Cone, a marketing agency out of Boston. The article talks about recently released survey data that says 80% of people have changed a purchase decision due to a bad review they saw, especially on social media. And I believe it.

The skeptics will say that not many people ask for recommendations on social media sites, so how big can the impact be? But those people misunderstand how social word of mouth works.

Those of us who spend a lot of time (probably too much) on social networking sites are constantly being influenced by others and their experiences in an informal way. We know when our friends have an amazing meal or an amazingly bad one. Or which airlines are keeping us stranded at every turn. Or which retailer went above and beyond to provide top notch customer service. And when we go to choose a product or service those messages from our friends are the ones that narrow our personal consideration sets.

The point is, it's not the formal reviews that are influencing decisions - which they also do - but the every day talk about our lives and experience that make it so essential to provide a great customer experience. As my friend Mark Schmulen is so fond of saying, "there is no marketing cure for sucking." And in the digital age if you suck, there is no hiding from it.


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