GroupM Search and comScore just released the results of a study examining the relationship between social media exposure and search behavior.
Consumers were divided into 3 segments. Segment 1 was only exposed to a brand’s paid search. Segment 2 was exposed to social media, relevant to a brand’s category and segment 3 was influenced by social media that was specific to a brand.
Search behavior was broken into segments, based on the stage of the purchase funnel queries are made. Upper-funnel terms are usually more generic and express awareness and consideration, whereas lower-funnel terms express action and loyalty.
The findings were that consumers who searched AND engaged with social media were far more likely to search for lower-funnel terms. This was particularly the case when they belonged to group 2 and used social media exposed to a brand. In fact, these consumers were 2.8 times more likely to search for that brand’s products than consumers from group 1 that were only exposed to paid search.
Even though marketers have suspected this trend, the study supports and validates those assumptions for the first time. An estimated 50% increase in click-through rates occurred when consumers had been exposed to brand influenced social media as well as paid search. While generic keywords at the top of the funnel are popular, consumers use social media to change their mind on the products and services they would consider buying further down the decision process.
For brands this is a great opportunity to influence consumer discussions about their products and services using social media, although the challenge will be understanding how to allocate budgets between social media and paid search.
Read the comScore press release.