Do Recommendations Via Social Media Really Work?
Social media has been around for a few years now and just within the last year people and companies have grasped the concept of leveraging social media for their business or interests. There was a lot of speculation that the power of product recommendation by friends and family through social media was the key to a chain reaction that would tip those considering a product over the edge and turn them into buyers. It seems like it would carry more weight than an Amazon-like review scenario. In fact with all the negative information surrounding review tampering and sponsored bloggers, the legitimacy of reviews has taken quite a hit recently. So do product recommendations actually work when sent through social media channels like Twitter and Facebook?
My initial response would be: well it depends! What is your relationship to this person recommending it? Good friend? Family member? Do you trust this person? Just like when you ask for advice you want to ask the person you deem most qualified and a person with whom you have a personal relationship. What about a company that you have “liked” on your Facebook page: When they send you product updates, does that inspire you to purchase the product?
Well, before I delve further into this topic and shove some silly infographic down your throat to make my point, let’s stop and think. I am sure if you are reading this you probably have access to at least one social media channel. Can you honestly tell me that you went out and bought an item based on a friend’s recommendation? Be honest.
However, if Carls Jr. sent you a coupon through their Facebook feed did it not make you want a burger? What about Groupon? They send your deals directly through a social media feed and did you not click on the link to purchase the coupon? I bet you have. So what does this mean?
Here is my point: I am not a believer that recommendations by my “friends” network works. If anything, I don’t want to buy the same thing a friend has bought (unless we are planning to use it together). However, I see the power of social media in relation to product sales in the ability of companies to put their products right in your face with something like a Facebook feed and the ability to sell that product in only a few clicks. Imagine a tray of cupcakes. The goal is to get them right in front of the buyer and make it easy to perform the transaction. Telling someone that the cupcakes are great is just icing on the cake but the key is really making it visible and convenient to purchase. Don’t get me wrong, reviews are important in a lot of situations, but their place is not in social media but rather in community-like features on a product site.