Participating in social media is a popular hobby. According to the Pew Research Center, as of January 2014, 74% of adults used social networking sites. This is good news for companies hoping to market their products, as social media is an easy way to show and discuss products. Social media can encourage users to spend more money, and sometimes, direct marketing isn’t even involved. This is because so many people are reached through social media.
Facebook is a particularly effective way to reach people because 71% of online adults use it. While most people are not using social media to view ads, and certainly not to increase their spending, this can easily become the case. In addition to viewing ads on sidebars, you are constantly being bombarded with images and opinions from the people who (usually) matter the most to you, and that can cause you to spend more money. Here’s another four ways you might be parting with your money if you spend a lot of time on social media sites.
1. Ad targeting
It’s no accident that you see specific advertisements when you browse certain social media sites. Facebook knows that advertisers can benefit from ad targeting, and they even devote a specific page to how advertisers can better target consumers. Ad targeting allows a company to reach specific customers who best fit their ideal target audience. In the case of Facebook, companies can target by location, demographics (based on information that users have willingly shared), interests, and even behaviors. Twitter offers much of the same, and they have their own guide for businesses. So if you happen to look over and see an advertisement for a product that fits your wants or needs, you are more likely to click on it, and then of course once you click on it, you might want to buy the product.
2. The power of a social network
Social media networking is a great way to stay in touch with family, friends, coworkers, and potential networking contacts. It can be fun to see the updates that other people post on Facebook or Twitter, or the recipes or fun crafts that friends post on Pinterest. However, your friends and family members may be doing more than just entertaining you with their posts. If you see a friend, or someone you look up to, with a specific product, and you want to emulate that person, then that idea can tempt you to spend money on the product they have. The same is true of simple tweets or updates that discuss a product; if people are talking about a product, that’s good news for advertisers.
According to the AARP, a study found that Facebook users who spend relatively long periods using the social media network, and have strong social networks, were likely to have more credit card debt and lower credit scores than those who used it less and whose social networks were not as strong.
3. The power of celebrities
Many celebrities have Twitter accounts, Facebook pages, or share Pinterest posts. When a celebrity posts a picture wearing a specific name brand, then some of that person’s followers will want to purchase that brand. If a celebrity posts a tweet about a product, or shares that they are going to a specific restaurant, the power of this post arises from the fact that so many people want to be like celebrities.
According to Social Media Week, celebrities promoting products can help build brand knowledge as well as credibility; celebrity endorsements often raise sales. The most important trait when companies are looking for a celebrity to endorse their products is for the celebrity to be authentic and believable: people want to trust that the celebrity would really use the product.
4. Companies on social media
There are many benefits to following a specific company on Facebook or Twitter; you can often get specific coupons or find out about sales. You can also learn about new products before people who are not following the sites, but this can encourage you to go out and buy those same products. In addition, companies use social media to increase their sales in other ways. If a company is on Twitter, it will have followers, and its followers might re-tweet a post, which will help the company to reach more users (the same is true for companies using Facebook). Companies can also spread knowledge of their brands and products by requesting followers to share or re-tweet a post in order to participate in a contest. Although the end result might be that someone wins something, the company is winning bigger by spreading the word about its products.
Social media is a great way to connect with people and stay up-to-date with their lives. It is also a wonderful way to score deals and coupons for products you like. But social media also makes us spend more. We are constantly viewing a specific portion of other people’s lives (usually the positive part: the perfect vacation, or the awesome new clothes). It’s easy to fall into the trap of wanting to spend more to catch up, or to somehow try to attain the happiness that radiates from the picture, or the popularity and fame that a celebrity displays.