The consumer journey toward purchase has in many ways become like this with morenew media drivers, such as Google and Microsoft, and misdirection, via consumer opinions on blogs and Facebook, making the beginning and end of the path, lessapparent to advertisers.As a result, brands are unsure which came first and how best tomotivate consumers to engage with their brands during and after the purchase path.In 2009, GroupM Search released the first industry study ever conducted exploring theinterplay between search and social media, titled
The Influenced: Social Media, Search,and the Interplay of Consideration and Consumption
In this study, GroupMSearch sought to understand the relationship consumers were establishing with brandsvia both search and social media.While search has become a ubiquitous term, as is well defined by the likes of Google,social media remains a more nebulous phrase. For this research social media is definedas the destinations which create communities or networks for sharing of information inword, image or video. These destinations range from brand-owned social media, such asa brand’s blog, to earned social media, such as content about a category created by thecommunity and fostered by the brand, to paid social media, such as sponsored and/or promoted areas of sites, including Facebook, YouTube or Twitter.
The chicken or the egg? If everything must have a clearly-defined beginning to reach anatural conclusion, then surely something had to come first. But, as it pertains to these causalelements, it would seem that understanding the sequence of events is still up for debate.
In 2009, GroupM Search, together with social media agency M80 andcomScore, conducted a researchinitiative to understand the interplaybetween search and social media. At that time, social media was so newthat the ability to properly measure itsimpact had yet to evolve to the levelsavailable today, when the worth of afriend or the value of a retweet areroutinely used as barometersof success.The study,
The Influenced: Social Media, Search, and the Interplay of Consideration and Consumption
, was thefirst project of its kind to associate theinfluence social media was having onsearch activity.Through this correlation itwas learned that brands could start toinvest in social media not simply on theperceived merits of the channel alone,but also on the tangible impact socialmedia had on a long-standing, top-performing channel, search.The study found a strong correlationbetween search and social media, aswell as further evidence that upper funnel engagement drives lower funnelactivity. The study also revealed theinfluence social media has on specificsearch activity. For all types of keywords the influence was found to besubstantial, but lower funnel termssurrounding campaign brands andbrand products saw large increases insearch activity when users alsoengaged in either category-level socialmedia or specific social media ownedby the brands themselves.Search and social media have strongconnective tissue between them.Several insights derived from theresearch remain actionable today andimportant to the strategy and executionof search and social media programs. As Barbara Basney, director of globaladvertising for Xerox was quoted in the
Wall Street Journal
following the launchof these findings, “Social media isgiving us another way to help influencepeople’s propensity to search.”
The VirtuousCircle: The Roleof Search andSocial Media inthe PurchasePathway
The Influenced: The Correlation Between Search and Social Media