Businesses failing to recognise the power of social media

Businesses are failing to recognise the importance social media is playing in the purchasing decisions of consumers, according too new research commissioned by social media tech specialists Maybe* as part of projects with UK Government and local authorities in the UK.

The research shows that 79.1% of consumers spend more than seven hours a week on social media – that’s more per individual customer than the average business spends in total per week. And, in addition, nearly 13% of people spend more than five hours a day on social media. This is in stark contrast to the 3.9m UK businesses for which data is available. Only 31% of these businesses have a social media presence. That equates to just 1.2m businesses with a social media presence, though this doesn’t mean those businesses are actually active online. Only 19% of UK businesses have active social media accounts – defined as having posted in the previous 30 days – which means 81% of businesses with a social media profile post less than once a month. Moreover, only 9% of businesses post on social media at the weekend, which is when consumers are most likely to be using social media for themselves.

The extent to which businesses are behind the curve becomes even more apparent with the research finding that 75% of consumers use social media to find out about products and services before buying. And this isn’t just online purchases – 74.6% of people looking at products on social media shop in store at least once a week.

Shaun Ward, Managing Director of Wardington’s Original, left, a Herefordshire-based producer of alcoholic spirits, collaborated with a local retailer, leading to a first edition whisky selling out in minutes online. Shaun comments: “When our team goes out to meet customers, we want to do more than just sell premium spirits to them. We want our customers and partners to interact with us on social media, with them sharing content that mentions us and our products. That gives them exposure, it gives us exposure – and everyone gets a slice of the pie.”

An increasing part of the relationship between brands and browsers is the connection on social media with more than half of shoppers (56%) following businesses they shop from; 54% using social media to read news about shops or restaurants they like, and 60% following brands that they either like to purchase or are interested in. 64% of consumers said that, when looking to make a purchase from somewhere, they are likely to interact with the company on social media.

Polly Barnfield OBE, CEO of Maybe*, left, said: “This research highlights the extent to which people are using social media to drive their purchasing decisions. This applies to online and offline transactions and shows how important it is that businesses engage with their prospects and clients digitally throughout the customer journey. The amount of time that consumers are spending on social media is out of balance with the time and resource that businesses are investing in it. Collectively, our social media consumption as individuals is growing. We are all engaging with brands in new ways and 75% of purchases are now based on what we see on social media. But, businesses are not meeting their customers in this environment. Mastering social media is becoming a critical business skill, it’s a ‘human to human’ opportunity that businesses must embrace to remain current.”