Social media’s role in customer engagement identified
A study exploring the relationship between social media exposure and search behaviors suggests a dramatic correlation between what they call “influenced discovery of brands through social media” with search behavior. including more lower-funnel searches and increased paid search click-through-rates (CTR).
A white paper exploring the results and implications of the study is available on the GroupM Search blog, SearchFuel.
The study, by GroupM Search and comScore was conducted in tandem with social media agency M80 and is called “The Influenced: Social Media, Search and the Interplay of Consideration and Consumption.”
The research explored the correlation between social media exposure and search behavior over a three month period across different verticals, including automotive, consumer packaged goods and telecommunications. In addition to looking at total internet users, consumers were divided into three segments:
– Consumers exposed only to a brand’s paid search
– Consumers exposed to social media relevant to a brand’s category
– A blog, message board/forum, user review, social networking site (e.g., Facebook, MySpace, LinkedIn), Twitter/micro-blogging, or video-sharing site (e.g., YouTube, Google Video), as well as a brand’s social marketing program’s “target” sites, or sites which have the most natural potential to hold content about a brand
– Consumers exposed to influenced social media specific to a brand
– Identified sites containing distributed social marketing content of a brand’s social media program
Search behavior was broken into segments based on where queries fell among stages of the purchase funnel. This included upper-funnel terms expressing awareness and consideration (industry relevant terms, general product attributes) to lower-funnel terms expressing action and loyalty (campaign brand terms, brand product terms).
“Every day consumers express their intent via search. Now, we better understand how that intent is established via social media and the interplay between the channels,” said Chris Copeland, chief executive officer of GroupM Search – The Americas. “There is a valuable audience for advertisers to focus on who are engaged with brands through social media and search. The study further validates our view that media discovery, specifically a brand’s owned and earned media, is as important to success as the paid media we handle every day. Generating upper-funnel awareness and influencing consideration through social media can produce better down-the-funnel performance with paid media, such as paid search.”
The study showed searchers who engage with social media, especially those exposed to a brand’s influenced social media, are far more likely to search for lower-funnel terms compared to consumers who do not engage with social media. Further, consumers exposed to a brand’s influenced social media and paid search programs are 2.8x more likely to search for that brand’s products compared to users who only saw paid search.
The study also showed a 50% CTR (click through rate) increase in paid search when consumers were exposed to influenced social media and paid search. This revealed consumers exposed to social media are more likely to click on a brand’s paid search ad compared to those exposed to the brand’s paid search alone. Among searchers using a brand’s product name in the query, the CTR increased from 4.5 percent to 11.8 percent when users were exposed to both influenced social media and paid search around a brand.
In organic search, consumers searching on brand product terms who have been exposed to a brand’s social marketing campaign are 2.4x more likely to click on organic links leading to the advertiser’s site than the average user seeing a brand’s paid search ad alone.
“Social media-exposed consumers are far more likely to search for brand and product-related terms, and click on a brand’s paid search ad,” said Graham Mudd, vice president of comScore, Inc. “This finding provides strong evidence that investing in social media marketing can both increase initial brand consideration and drive higher conversion rates once the consumer has decided to purchase.”
Surveying the intention of these segments, searchers who use social media are more engaged overall and more likely to be looking for places to buy and brands to consider. Consumers using social media are 1.7x more likely to search with the intention of making a list of brands or products to consider purchasing compared to those who do not use social media.
“Advertisers need to explore their social media initiatives and how they impact user engagement and performance in other channels. This data suggest that social media marketing does positively affect consumer purchase consideration, specifically through the search channel,” said Todd Steinman, chief operating offer at M80.
The findings introduce several implications for the search marketing and social marketing industries. “As advertisers consider the allocation of paid media and the greatest opportunity for return, the topics of media discovery and influenced social discovery must be a part of the conversation,” said Copeland. “Blending paid, earned and owned media, and putting your brand in places where it can be discovered and part of the natural conversation, will enable advertisers to influence the outcome of intention expressed by consumers, and capture this heavily engaged audience.”