Social Media and the New Age of Consumer Decision Making

Moments of truth

For years, the structure for advertising a product worked within a universally acknowledged industry paradigm known as “moments of truth.”

And they went a little something like this:

First Moment of Truth: The moment a consumer is first faced with the choice of selecting a brand at the shelf.

Second Moment of Truth: The moment after a consumer purchases a product and experiences that product for the first time, deciding whether it meets expectations. 

The first time a consumer ever interacted with a brand on a personal level was in the store. Period.

These “moments of truth” in a customer journey were the two most important factors that would make or break your brand.

A funny thing happened with the invention of social media. Social media completely demolished the previous understanding of how people made consumer decisions.

The Zero Moment

Social allowed platforms to exist where people could interact with a brand not just through visual images and enticing copywriting, but they could reach out to a brand with questions, comments and feelings. Brands could then respond back instantly, creating a personal engagement that previously had never existed in the world of consumer decision making.

This changed the consumer journey drastically. Consumers can now effectively make a purchase decision before ever interacting with a product in person, basing it solely on their online experience.

While this idea of organic and direct engagement has strong representation in social media, the buck doesn’t stop there. The idea of this “zero moment of truth," or a consumer’s pre interaction with a brand online extends into everything we do at ODC —from brand identity to app development.

The Feedback Loop

One of the most interesting aspects of this new interaction is the feedback loop. A brand can refine a target audience, test products or even play with brand identity and receive instant feedback from the online peanut gallery. That feedback can be tracked and analyzed through online data collection.

One of the craziest recent statistics is that in one minute nearly 1,572,877 gigabytes of global ip data is transferred on the internet. Even crazier? All of that data can be collected and analyzed to target the consumers that matter most to a brand in an efficient and incredibly personal way.

For example, testing for customer loyalty and positive experience can be done entirely through the analysis of online data. By tracking website traffic, bounce rate, search volume, online reviews, even the volume of mentions and relevant hashtags on social media, a brand can determine exactly who it’s most engaged demographic is, why they decided to purchase their product and what kind of experience they had.

Track and Tweak

Social media has allowed brands to track and tweak their interactions, target audience, and brand voice online in such a rapid and efficient manner that, ideally, a consumer will never receive an ad that isn’t directly relevant to who they are or what they are interested in again.

From a quantitative analysis standpoint, this is a huge breakthrough. But it has also forced brands to up their game. Consumers have a higher set of expectations for brands. They demand transparency and meaningful purchases. They want to know the stories behind every product they buy and where their money is going. It is not enough to know that we are buying a good tasting cup of coffee, we want to know the story behind the cup; from the where the beans came from to the farmer that tilled the crop.

A democratized marketplace

Whether you’re a brand as big as Coca-Cola or as small as a funded Kickstarter widget, social media and digital pre-interaction with a consumer has democratized the marketplace. It has catalyzed the evolution of big data and consumer insights that were previously inaccessible for advertisers.

Some may see this new reality as a scary invasion of privacy. While that notion is not totally unfounded, and really a topic for another post another day, the rise of data collection means that every experience we have online should not only be easy and seamless, but every online advertisement we see should be personally catered to each of our unique set of interests and needs.

Genevieve is a copywriter and creative strategist, bringing her expertise in social media to the One Design team. Genevieve's focus is on creating an online experience that engages brand communities in authentic and unique ways.

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