Brafton has reported on the continuous convergence of search and social media, with Google launching new social search features and Bing expanding its Facebook Like data to all search results. As the line between search engines and social media continues to blur, a new report from GroupM indicates that consumers often consult both channels when making purchase decisions.
According to the study, search is the starting point to online shopping for the majority of consumers. More than half of respondents (58 percent) begin with search, whereas less than one-quarter (24 percent) start with company websites and 18 percent start with social media (defined as blogs, YouTube, Facebook, Twitter and consumer reviews). This indicates to marketers that search engine optimization is key to boosting brand awareness and drawing online traffic.
Marketers will want to generate optimized content for their websites, but they should also carefully consider the content they use to seed their brands' social pages. Forty percent of consumers who use search in the purchase path are motivated to use social media to further the decision making process. (And 46 percent who use social media for online shopping turn to search to learn more.)
By using solid search and social campaigns, companies will likely find they can more easily engage online audiences. The study found that when consumers were exposed to both search and social media marketing, a brand's overall search CTRs increased by 94 percent.
The takeaway for marketers may be that it's time to use optimized content beyond search engines. Indeed, a recent Forrester report covered by Brafton indicates that content optimization must go beyond traditional search portals as time spent on other internet channels rises.