When I had a think about this i realised the following things:
- If I want to purchase something from a website that I haven’t heard of before, I check to see if they have Twitter and Facebook pages, and if they do, I check the kind of conversation and level of consumer interaction that is going on. This is because I feel like if a company is willing to put a voice and personality to their brand, and if they are willing to open themselves up to a public forum where people can easily complain (and others can see the complaints), then it give me a certain level of trust in them and I will go ahead and make a purchase.
- If I see people talking about a product on Twitter, I am influenced by their opinions. I recently bought an eyebrow pen that I had no idea I wanted, but seeing people raving about it on Twitter and on blogs made me decide I needed it in my life! (Remember that I have worked in the beauty industry for years so I am not usually easily swayed by new products with big promises, but when the general consensus of my peers is that a product is particularly good, it grabs my interest.)
- If I am considering buying a beauty product but want to know if it is worth the investment, I ask my Twitter followers what they think about the product and their opinions will influence my decision to buy or not.
- Sometimes a competition to ‘like’ a brand on Facebook will drive me to join the Facebook page of a brand I have never heard of before (if the prize is appealing). This not only makes me aware of a brand I never previously knew existed, but when their future status updates start appearing in my Facebook news feed, as long as it is relevant to me I find myself engaging with them – checking out their new products that they have announced, or joining their newsletter, or whatever.
- If I talk to a brand through Twitter and they don’t respond, it makes me think poorly of the brand. Conversely if they respond, it enhances my perception of the brand as I like that they took the time to reply.
This demonstrates not only the importance of being on Facebook, but also how to engage with your consumers once you are there. If you are not there and not joining in the conversation, people may not know you even exist and you cannot influence the perceptions of your brand.
For more information, here is a particulary good article from TrendWatching on how friends, fans and followers are influencing consumers' purchasing decisions.
How do Facebook and Twitter influence you in your perception of brands and your purchasing decisions?