Its important to understand where in the purchasing process social media can deliver the greatest impact.
“Demystifying Social Media,” published by McKinnsey Quarterly, reports on how executives can harness social media to shape the customer purchasing decision in predictable ways.
My interpretation of the report for aviation marketers focuses on where in the considered purchase process social media may have the greatest influence on the purchasing decision for aviation products and services.
A majority of aviation marketing executives understand what social media is and its ability to amplify word-of-mouth effects. However, most struggle with how to harness the power of social media for their brand.
4 primary functions of social media:
- Monitor – Listening to what customers and prospects in the aviation community are saying about your brand.
- Respond – Ability to respond to specific conversations on a personal level to provide customer service, to sales opportunities, or for crisis communication management.
- Amplify – Designing marketing activities to have a “social motivator” that encourages engagement and sharing.
- Lead – Leading customers and purchase influencers toward long-term behavioral changes in the early stages of the purchasing decision.
Social media is transforming the purchasing funnel from a linear process of awareness, consideration, trial, and purchase to a multi-touchpoint process of:
- Consider – Initial phase of purchasing process where referrals and recommendations can sway brand consideration.
- Evaluate –Review postings and blogs pertaining to the product’s features, benefits, and performance.
- Purchase – Online and offline purchasing experience, either direct or through distributors.
- Experience – Customer perception after the sale, fostering participation in communities to discuss product functionality, installation, or potential new applications.
- Advocate – Customer’s active endorsement of the brand to the community and peers within the industry, through “likes” and other rating protocol.
- Bond – Customers’ recognition by the brand to receive special offers or other preferential treatment.
Identifying which touchpoint of the considered purchase provides the most benefit to the brand in terms of influencing purchase behavior is essential to develop the data chains for measuring social media’s effect as it drives purchasing behavior.
For aviation marketers, this means knowing the brand’s “conversation potential” at critical touchpoints and determining which one will yield the greatest influence on purchasing behavior.
For example, giving your customers an opportunity to comment and rate your product on your webpage may strategically yield more influence on purchasing behavior than a “like” on a Facebook page.
Taking the time to build the social media hook at the front end of concept development will help integrate social media with overall marketing strategy and bring efficiency to the marketing process.