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Does Social Media Influence Your Buying Habits?

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One night while perusing my Twitter timeline, I came across a travel bag posted by @amazon, the amazon.com Twitter account. I clicked on the link, reviewed the product description and price, I was ready to buy and place my order. Realizing I couldn't buy it from amazon.ca (the Canadian site) because the shipping costs alone would make this deal exorbitant. With regret, I hit the cancel button. This is a clear-cut example of how social media influenced my buying habits.

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Have you heard of Black Friday & Cyber Monday?

Unless you have been living in the wilderness with no access to TV, internet or newspapers, it's highly probable you've heard a thing or two about the American phenomenon of Black Friday (originally intended to get retail stores out of the "red" and into the "black") and its online offshoot, Cyber Monday. Black Friday is the American equivalent to Canada's Boxing Day, but thanks to the influence of marketing, the day for deals is gaining popularity north of the border. Marketing at its most clever uses any media vehicle it can to influence the consumer to shop, and the day after American Thanksgiving has become a juggernaut of spending. Perhaps you have seen a tv segment or two of people fighting, and sometimes literally dying, over the highly coveted "sale items." Imagine the influence this article has from Sheknows.com about "Black Friday fashion deals" on potential buyers.

With online shopping becoming more and more common, online retailers, such as Amazon and even brick and mortar stores with a digital shopping cart are getting in on the action. Although you might not be trampled by a crowd of people, it's important to be mindful of what the real deals are and where the hidden charges, like shipping, might be.

Branding yourself an Influencer

Now lets take a look at this marketing genius, Jason SurfrApp (his current campaign name for 2014). Jason used social media to launch his services to help brands sell to people like you and me by wearing branded T-shirts -- company name IWearYourShirt.com. Add the social media element to the mix and he was off launching his new business. Once the foundation was laid, well the rest is history. Jason now is a consultant to corporations, guest speaker and book author.

In 2008, I saw the growing influence of social media and decided I could utilize those platforms in a new and unique way by getting paid to wear sponsored t-shirts for a living. Each day, I represented a different company online using social media sites like Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Ustream, and Flickr. -Jason SurfrApp

Remember the recent news concerning comet lander scientist Dr Matt Taylor's shirt with images of scantily clad women? It caused a firestorm on social media, and began trending world-wide with the hashtag #shirtgate. Opinions from all sexes poured in and the backlash made international headlines. On the other side of the sartorial pendulum is Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge, who sparks a buying frenzy with anything she wears.

Online shirt companies, like DonkeyTees, are experiencing a growing number of customers, as more consumers are looking to make ironic and often tongue-in-cheek statements through their apparel. Often appealing to the nostalgia or politics of a generation, the iconography used to reach their target audience is ultimately something that a larger audience is able to immediately identify.

The DemandGen Report survey highlights some telling behaviours:
• 37 per cent of buyers said they spent more time using social media to research solutions than in previous years.
• 57 per cent of buyers said that they browsed existing social-media discussions to learn more about a topic.
• 53 per cent of buyers said they relied more on peer recommendations -- nearly three times the number from the year before.
Source: Digital Current

Some companies are masters at influencing buying habits. Starbucks, for instance, has been at the helm of controlling the customer experience for a long time. From the in-store environment to the presence on social media, the company has been able to balance its image as a responsible coffee source and still nearly quadruple share prices in the last 5 years.

With more sources than ever to be reached directly by companies, social media is beginning to find a solid footing in the world of marketing. With the tools that social media provides marketers to target specific demographics, one can at least hope that the information that finds its way to our screens is of some relevance, lest it become part of the digital noise that we will inevitably tune out.

Has social media influenced you to buy recently?

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