Why social media can’t exist without content – Part Two

Posted By Axonn on 27th October 2014

Can your social media pages be successful without content? When it comes to creating content and developing a social media strategy, how can you be sure that you’re doing the right thing for your brand?


If you missed part one of ‘Why social media can’t exist without content’, I suggest you go back and take a look, because in part two, we are moving straight to the consumer buyer decision process (CBDP)…

Understanding the CBDP

Often overlooked when creating content and social media strategies, the CBDP can help you understand what it is that your customers want and need. This is extremely important, especially if you want to:

  1. Create effective content that helps potential and existing consumers make purchase decisions.
  2. Find the most appropriate social tactics to amplify your content and engage your audience.

Before reviewing each step of the CBDP, let’s stop and think about low involvement and high involvement purchases.

Low involvement product / service

Products and services classified as low involvement are those which are:

a) Purchased fairly frequently and/or

b) Quite cheap / have very little impact on the consumer’s life overall

Fast moving consumer goods (FMCG) are a great example of low involvement products.

More often than not, these types of products require little to no product evaluation prior to purchase. This is where top-of-mind recall is most important (i.e. brand awareness / associations etc).

High involvement product / service

High involvement purchases are those that require a great deal of thought during the CBDP. This is due to the fact that they will have a dramatic impact on the consumer’s lifestyle / perception of self.

More often than not, such purchases are made less frequently and the risk attached to them is far greater than for those classified as low involvement.

Examples of high involvement products include cars, kitchens, holidays and even a new hairdresser for someone who has just moved to a new area.

To make such a purchase, consumers typically compare and evaluate a variety of alternatives. Before a suitable product /service can be selected, a great deal of time and effort may be spent on reviewing competing brands’ reputations, trustworthiness and more.

The five steps of the CBDP

There are five steps within the CBDP and each can provide you with important insight regarding your content and social media requirements.

1. Problem recognition

The recognition of a need for your brand’s product or service can be driven by internal or external stimuli, or a combination of both. Being aware of this allows you to create the right content, and implement the most suitable social tactics, to help you generate awareness and demand.

Internal vs. external:

Internal stimuli – When a person recognises that they have a problem – for example, he or she has run out of milk and needs it for breakfast – it’s an internal stimuli at work. The role of social and content in this situation is to encourage repurchase of the same brand or even to increase usage, driving additional purchases within the usual buying period.

External stimuli – When your potential customer is unaware of the fact that he/she has a problem, your content and social activities must actively remind, or bring to the consumer’s attention, the fact that they are in need of your solution. External stimuli will often be used to generate interest in non-essential items – wrinkle creams, luxury goods and so forth.

Sometimes your strategy might need to consider both the need for internal and external stimuli. Scenarios like this may occur when you are aiming to build loyalty in existing customers and also attract new customers.


2. Information gathering

Once consumers have acknowledged that they have a problem, they will take action. For low involvement products and services, this action might be as simple as remembering what was last purchased, how well it performed, what the packaging looked like and how much it cost (or if promotions are available regularly).

However, for high involvement purchases, the consumer will embark on an informational journey, putting much more time and effort into researching alternative solutions in an attempt to find the one that will best meet their needs.

When making decisions and researching, it’s important to remember that consumers will consider:

  • Their own perceptions of, and experiences with, the brand (or your product / service if they have used it before)
  • Marketing communications and social media activity
  • Family and friends’ experiences with, and perceptions of, your brand
  • Reviews and content created by individuals and brands not affiliated with your business.

The growing importance of reviews and earned media reinforces the need to allocate time to engagement activities on your social pages (i.e. relationship building, page growth).

It’s also good to review and understand:

  • Competitors’ social activity and the type of content that they are creating and sharing
  • Your key personas and how they consume content (content types as well as the devices used)
  • Sentiment and conversation online regarding the product or service that your brand offers or the industry in which you operate
  • Consumer concerns when it comes to high involvement purchases and the ways in which lives can be impacted by a negative experience

By knowing as much as possible about the above, content can be tailored to meet the informational requirements of the consumer so you can focus on using the most appropriate social tactics to reinforce these key messages, engage and convince the consumer to add your brand to their list of potential purchases (consideration set).

Strategy tip: When reviewing the CBDP, it’s a good idea to place yourself in the position of the customer; think about how you would come to a purchase decision for your brand’s product or service and consider your own informational requirements and demands.

3. Evaluation

Once the consumer has gathered information, an initial consideration set (a variety of brands that the consumer would consider buying and wants to know more about) will be created. It is during the ‘evaluation’ stage that these products / services are compared and reviewed further. New evaluative factors may be added and, in a bid to reduce the number of options, these may sometimes be superficial or appear, on first inspection, to be rather small or unimportant overall. Learning more about the ‘deal breakers’ for your product or service – big or small – can help you further enhance social content and activities, allowing you to produce and share convincing messages that cater to ‘deal breaker’ assessments and comparisons.

If your brand has failed to make it within the consumer’s consideration set, tailored content and a combination of engagement activities and paid promotion can play a role in interrupting the CBDP – and getting your offering back in front of the consumer. How? Once again, with research led content and social tactics that help you place your message within the right conversations and in front of the right people (for example, targeted campaigns that make use of paid social).

4. Purchase

Unfortunately, consumers won’t always choose to purchase after they’ve completed steps 1 – 3. Sometimes, distractions (or feeling overwhelmed) can mean that they decide not to buy. When creating content for social media, and planning your social strategy, ask the following questions: does our content and will our social actions also cater to the group of consumers who might want to stop the process before they buy? How can we encourage the consumer to continue (with us) through step 4?

5. Post-purchase

Even once a purchase has been made, social content and activities still need to be reviewed and tailored to increase chances of repeat purchase and positive word of mouth (brand advocacy). When determining appropriate themes and activities for the post purchase stage, make sure that you’ve thought of:

  • Customer service: does your product / service require a great deal of after-sales service?
  • Demand generation: if your product is one that falls into the high turnover, low cost category, how can you increase usage / demand for it? If your product / service is low turnover, high cost, how can you encourage sales of complementary products, add-ons or repeat purchase (if required again) in the future?
  • Belonging and loyalty: can repeat purchase and continued satisfaction be generated by consumers being rewarded or included within an exclusive community?
  • User generated content: is there a way that you can encourage those who have purchased from you to leave a review, share a photo or create content for you that emphasises their (hopefully) positive experience with the brand?

Why social media needs quality content … and why content marketing needs social media …

Each stage of the CBDP is heavily reliant on content that meets the needs of the consumer. Content can be text-based or visual – all that matters is that it is relevant and that it leads and supports your existing or potential customer through each stage of the process. Social media helps to ensure that this content can be found by the right people, at the right time in a convenient, easy to use and familiar location. Tactics such as paid social can further enhance content, allowing brands to aggressively target key personas, and enabling contact with the right people.

Consumers’ use of social media networks to learn about brands, find reviews and discuss a variety of products and services is growing rapidly. Without relevant content, social pages will have very little to ‘say’ and conversion rates will suffer.


Key takeaways

Key points from parts one and two:

Content is the foundation of your social media strategy.

  1. Your social media and content marketing strategies need to be working together to ensure that your key messages are placed in front of the right audience.
  2. Social media and content marketing activities should not be viewed in isolation – each should be integrated within the wider marketing strategy and also supporting the achievement of business objectives.
  3. Understanding who, what, when, why and where and reviewing the steps consumers take within the CBDP will allow you to further enhance your content and use social media tactics that provide your brand with the best chance of success.