This morning a colleague passed around a new Capgemini study that claimed social media is having less impact on people’s purchasing decisions than previously believed.

I can’t argue with the accuracy of their findings; however, I don’t think this is a particularly significant data point. First, the significance rating only declined .04 which seems too small of a deviation to start drawing a definite conclusion.

Next, from my own experience conducting market research, I’ve noticed that people don’t always like to admit that marketing influences their decisions. Pollsters agree that you can skew survey results just by the way you frame up a question. For example, in our Fracking in The Digital Landscape Report we asked a similar question: “On a scale of 1-5 how much does social media influence your view point on fracking?” The mean score was in the low 2s. However, when we asked “What is your main source of fracking information,” 38% of respondents said it was social media. Taking this second figure into account we concluded that social media has a lot of significance.

We prefer to look at behavioral data along with opinions before jumping to any conclusions. In the last year, the ROI associated with social has become clearer. There have been great advances by Facebook and Twitter that allow us to hyper target ads and make them extremely relevant to just about any audience. Today we have the ability to track conversations such as sales and retarget potential customers with tracking pixels. A report from Nanigans, a platform that hundreds of companies use to manage their social ads, contradicts Capgemini’s findings. They report steady growth in revenue per click from Facebook ads based on data collected from their clients across many different industries.

I do agree with Capgemini VP Brian Girouard’s statement that “we caution against an over-reliance on social media’s ability to enhance the overall customer experience.”

With all the information available to consumers, it’s obvious that the path to purchase has become much more sophisticated. These days, it takes multiple touch points across multiple channels to reach consumers. This recent Nielsen report suggests that there are 11 key marketing touch points, and eight of them are digital. With this notion in mind, I believe that it is crucial for social to be part of that mix.

So before we start saying that social media is losing relevance on purchasing decisions, it’s important to look at all the data we can get our hands on. As demonstrated in this situation, people might offer their opinion and say one thing, but numbers don’t lie and could tell a completely different story.

– Scott Ziegler

thought leadership


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