Research downgrades the importance of Facebook Sponsored Stories
What your friends like does not have a massive impact on your purchasing decisions
I know, I know… it’s a hugely outspoken thing to say. After all, Facebook have dictated to everyone in the marketing world that people are hugely influenced by what their friends eat, wear, listen to and watch. Sponsored stories; the advertising function Facebook advertisers use to tell people what their friends have liked, is supposed to be hugely powerful to anyone who wants to believe it.
My inkling that friend recommendation might not be quite so potent is based on the fact that most peoples friendship circles on Facebook are littered with old school friends, family and a smattering of work colleagues. You’re not friends with them because they have great dress sense, cool taste in music or an intimate expertise in credit cards. They’re your friends because of who they are, not what they buy.
The idea that I’d take fashion advice from people I went to school with fills me with horror. I don’t care what their favourite shaving foam is and I certainly don’t care for the things they like. Well, it turns out my inklings have some base in reality. Millenials… you know, masters of social, have revealed in a recent study by Bazaarvoice and Kelton Research that they are more influenced by experts than they are by their friends. The order of influence is…
Well I never…
It’s like we’ve turned full circle because for me that’s how purchasing decisions have always been influenced. When I’m buying a TV, I don’t want to ask a friend, I want to read a blog from a man who has a 740 inch plasma in his bedroom and a 700 square foot warehouse to store his collection of 400 vintage TV’s. If I’m looking for a restaurant to go to, give me a food bloggers opinion over someone I’ve seen eat 6 hamburgers in under a minute.
Now, I’m not totally writing off the sponsored story here. It has some gravity for sure. What I’d be interested in as a social marketer is Facebook sharing data on which types of product or service they work for best.
Personally, I’m rubbish with films; I am influenced by the films my friends watch. Sometimes I am even influenced by the tastes of some of my network when it comes to music even thought I like to think I have half decent insight into music (Kenny G is still cool, right?). Both are essentially social choices to a degree. However, is there any benefit in a toothpaste sponsored story? How about a sponsored story for a car? Do you ever buy a vehicle after seeing that your friend ‘liked’ Ford? Wouldn’t you then be more likely to buy a totally different car? When I grew up, copying your friends was embarrassing…
I might be totally wrong of course, however, I think Facebook has done an amazing job in convincing us that everyone’s opinion holds equal weight. It’s in their business to do that. But as the quest for better ROI continues, you suspect Facebook are going to have to open up about the true influence of friends in the buying cycle, especially as research points out that the next generation seem to place the importance of friends’ opinions in a second place when it comes to product and service recommendations.