Search and Social Media: inextricably linked for buyers

Search and Social Media marketing are increasingly intertwined, and for good reason: both serve as highly efficient vehicles to connect what you have to say with people who might want to hear it. And while search is still the dominant tool used by people who want to buy something online, social media is starting to be used more frequently as part of the process, primarily to validate purchase choices before and after buying.

A new study from GroupM and ComScore provides hard data to confirm what many of us already suspected. The study focussed on people buying in consumer packaged goods (or FMCG) and electronics/telecoms categories and found that most people start their online buying journey with search; 58% start with search compared to just 18% with social media and 24% for company websites.

Most consumers start with search

And while 45% of people claim to use search all the way through the buying process (from initial research, right through to and beyond the purchase itself) only 18% use it exclusively at the end of the process, highlighting the relatively more important role that search plays at the very start of the process.

But those searches at the start of the buying cycle differ significantly from those at the end, in what GroupM Search have coined the “Late Kick” for brands. In the last 30 days prior to purchase, after the initial evaluation has been completed, search behaviour intensifies with the chosen brand site receiving considerably more traffic than competitors who may, by now, have been dropped from the consideration set.

The late kick end stage surge in queries

Finally, the report reminds us that social media doesn’t just mean Facebook or Twitter. During the buying process social media tools like user reviews are used by 30% of buyers, while sites like Facebook are used by only 17%. Gathering the opinions of others is hugely important to many buyers, but its seems knowing who those people are may be less important than being able to easily access lots of reviews very quickly.

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