Researching online, and I guess we’d call that search+social media, is the biggest shift in buying habits ever and is one of the fundamental reasons behind the establishment of the Social Media Academy.
We’ve seen the trend to users claiming back the power of informing themselves for quite a while, but is has hit critical mass and in both B2C and B2B. That’s why it is so important for businesses to get on top of this shift.
I agree with the previous two comments, but I think what is more important is the online “informing experience” rather than the online shopping experience. The ramifications are profound. Let me mention just three.
1. If you as a business are not there in those social places and spaces where these discussions are taking place, then it seems obvious that you are not participating in those decisions – yet some major businesses have trouble grasping this.
2. If you are there, or not there, that action or actions then becomes part of your brand behaviour and thus over time adds or subtracts from your brand.
3. The idea that the retail store is “your technology expert” – a common current advertising theme – is not only a bankrupt brand promise to begin with, a kind of last gasp agency pitch, but is ignored by consumers as they don’t want to know from the 22-year-old sales person – they have already informed themselves. Retailers need to suck it up and get over it.