What is the Point of Social?

Lance Concannon Lance Concannon, Marketing Director, Europe

Even after 14 years of Facebook, 12 years of Twitter, and 8 years of Instagram, the question still gets asked; why invest resources in social media, what’s the point of it? Even today, many brands still struggle to measure social ROI (although of course we’d be the first to tell you that it doesn’t have to be that way) and that can make it difficult to justify further investment.

We all know social is powerful, but in business just knowing isn’t enough, we need proof. There’s a ton of research on how social media impacts behavior such as buying decisions and, increasingly, voting choices, and now we have one more compelling piece of evidence that helps argue the case for social.

In an August 2018 survey from the Pew Research Centre (The American Trends Panel) 14% of all US adults surveyed said that they had changed their minds about a social or political issue after seeing something about it on a social media channel. Unsurprisingly, age is a significant factor in this. As this chart shows, people under the age of thirty are more likely to be swayed by a social media post, especially men.

It’s important to note that these numbers aren’t huge, and it seems as though the majority of people are not going to have their opinion changed because of a tweet or Facebook post. But also bear in mind that this question is specifically about political and social issues, which tend to be among people’s most strongly held beliefs and therefore the most difficult to dislodge, so it seems likely that the numbers would probably be higher for less firmly entrenched opinions, such as brand preferences.

Whichever way you look at it, the research confirms that a small, but not insignificant, number of people are willing to alter their opinions and possibly their behavior based on content they’ve encountered in social media channels. So what’s the point of social? If it can help you convince 14% of your target audience, that’s got to be worthwhile.