For a while now, business owners have been told that search and social media go together like peanut butter and jelly. Social media works well to capture customer attention, generate enthusiasm, and drive people to buy; search has been how people navigate the actual logistics of buying.
Several factors are coming together to change that paradigm. eMarketer reports that customers are increasingly using social media for both research and discovery. Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram have all introduced shopping features, making it easy for users to purchase the items they want without ever leaving the platform.
Search is currently the dominant way people research potential products – consumer reviews, as well as retailer and brand websites were the preferred source of information for all demographics – but it’s unclear how long that dynamic will last. A quarter of millennials cite ‘Social Media Interactions with Brands” as a go-to source for shopping information; it’s reasonable to expect that percentage to remain constant or grow in the years to come.
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What does that mean for the small business owner? For one, it’s more vital than ever before to be sure all of the information in your social media profiles is current, accurate and complete. Consider how voice search works when filling out profiles; it’s important to have the important phrases customers are searching for appearing regularly and prominently.
It’s also a good idea to make sure the content that traditionally appears on your website’s FAQ page can be accessed via social media. This is easier on some platforms than others; make liberal use of links in posts to direct curious customers to where this information lives on your website. As the lines between social and search blur, be prepared for social sites to continue to expand their suite of search-like ad offerings. Now is the time to gather information on the amount of sales you’re currently realizing on social, how much of your website traffic begins on social media, and other factors you can use to determine whether investing in these ads makes sense for your business.