Today, social media is where everyone turns to in order to connect to friends, family and other members of their community. A pervasive part of life, a great example of this is the fact that breaking news is no longer first reported on conventional media outlets like CNN or BBC but is usually immediately available on top of Twitter or Facebook news feeds. Social media has become so fast in delivering information and connecting the masses that the traditional media outlets have teams of watchers constantly on these platforms trying to get the news first as they struggle to remain competitive. All of this leads to social media marketing.

Social media, as a whole, has revolutionized our growing appetite for information and has made the world a much smaller place. When it comes to the marketing and retail sector, social media has also become a dominant force that it is no longer just a part of the marketing mix, but in many cases, it becomes the main sales funnel.

Consumer data on the importance of social media tells us that 87% of customers use social media to decide what they want to buy. That means social media influences not a marginal majority but nearly 9 out of 10 purchases in the retail markets.

If that doesn’t seem like a big change, here are a few more ways social media has changed the marketing sector and why it is imperative to concentrate marketing efforts towards these platforms.

Usership & Mass Psychology applied on Social Media Marketing

Social media is driving a much bigger increase in retail traffic than any other channel. This can be attributed to both the large volume of users and the fact that users are able to easily see the mass hysteria behind any product or trend. For example, when it comes to usership, Facebook has over 2 billion active users who log in daily. That represents nearly 25% of all of humanity and an estimated 60-70% of the buying populations globally.

No wonder E-commerce giants like Amazon and eBay integrate with Facebook and other social media platforms.

As we are able to see what friends, family and the people we follow on social media are into, trends are easily formed that help to push mass hysteria and adoption behind anything the crowd embraces. For example, if a hundred of your closest friends were to like a new product, chances are, you will to. This, in turn, pushes a social media user to keep up with friends and also commit to buying into the trends viewed on social media.

71% of customers prefer to buy an item referred by a friend on a social platform. Due to these factors, brands are catching on and are leveraging social media and the top influencers to help convert sales. The new approach is to build a community and relationships with customers where customers don’t feel like customers, but rather members of the brand itself.

Spending Behavior and Social Media Marketing

The average social media customer spends $1,800 every year shopping. Considering the sheer usership levels alone, this is a huge percentage of the marketplace. Once a social media customer has decided to purchase, the average order value is $65 on Instagram, $55 on Facebook, $50 Pinterest and $46.29 on Twitter. As most of these channels make it easy to funnel those sales and leverage those customers into more sales to their social circles, the value to brands can seem endless.

In addition, platforms like Facebook and Instagram have now made it possible for a brand to sell directly on their sites. With targeted marketing and advertising on these platforms, it is relatively easy for a brand to reach the friends of customers and leverage those relationships even further.

For example, imagine you were to purchase a shirt from Nike on Facebook or like their official fanpage. Social media campaigns can be set up to target your friends that are much more likely to purchase when they see an ad that reads “Check out this shirt John already bought,” or “Liked by your friend John.” It effectively turns the customer into a sales agent and makes them a brand ambassador just by hitting the like button or making a purchase. No other form of marketing is able to actively leverage their customers own social circles in this manner, making social media the most important marketing channel available to a brand or business today.

Market Trends and Social Media Marketing

While the trend towards social media marketing has been growing, a look at the actual demographics of social shoppers tell us the importance will grow even more over the next decade. The majority of social shoppers are in the 18-54 age range, while the over-55 age bracket is less influenced by social media marketing. As that older demographic passes away, and the current 45-55 age demographics takes its place, the overall marketplace will become more and more reliant on social media influences.

A look at the countries with the highest rates of social shoppers also points to the fact that, in developed countries, around 60% of people use social media to shop. As internet becomes more affordable and more developing economies and countries come online, social media’s global influence will sky rocket even further. For all these reasons, social media may one day be the only channel of marketing for a business, if it already isn’t.