Consumers & Online Buyers Are Tapping Into the ‘F-Factor’ of Social Networking

Consumers are increasingly tapping into their online social networks of friends, fans, and followers to discover, discuss and purchase goods and services, according to analysis from Trendwatching.com. The consumer trend analysis firm calls this trend the “F-Factor,” with the “F” standing for friends, fans and followers.
Social Sources Become Trusted
As a result of social networking and other online communication technologies, consumers can now use trusted sources they know to obtain information about products and brands, rather than rely on third party advertising or perform extensive first hand research.
Trendwatching.com advises that consumers have always relied on word-of-mouth advice from friends, relatives and associates, but modern technology is greatly accelerating its development as a major influence of purchase decisions.
Facebook Dominates the F-Factor
The F-Factor is currently dominated by Facebook, according to Trendwatching.com. As of April 2011 Facebook has 500 million active users spend more than 700 billion minutes a month on the website and every month more than 250 million people engage with Facebook across more than 2.5 million external websites.
2010 Facebook data shows the average user clicks the “Like” button nine times each month and February 2011 Ad Age/Ipsos data shows 3/4 of Facebook users have liked a brand.
Consumers ‘F-Discover’ Best of the Best
Trendwatching.com has broken down five key ways the F-Factor influences consumer purchasing decisions. The first, ‘F-Discovery’ involves consumer desires to own or experience the best of the best and their desire for serendipity, excitement, interaction and community. People are curious and interested in what their friends and contacts think, do, eat, read, listen to, drive in, travel to and buy, because this will often be similar to how they want to think, act and buy.
Thus consumers are embracing communities, tools and apps that allow them to dive into and discover selections from friends, fans, followers, and so on.
Consumers Want ‘F-Rated’ Products
Consumers sometimes enjoy finding the best of the best through discovery; they are increasingly able to access personalized recommendations and reviews on something they know they want to purchase. Research from trendwatching.com shows more and more websites will automatically serve up friends’ recommendations, ratings and reviews next to goods and services that people are researching.
‘F-Feedback’ Makes Recommendations Personal
Anonymous reviews aren’t always what consumers need or want; they can lack relevance and context, and consumers with many options sometimes just want an unambiguous or finite opinion. F-Feedback involves consumers actively disclosing their purchasing intentions and reaching out to their friends and contacts for personalized feedback.
Trendwatching.com further advises that with more and more consumers increasingly viewing their online reputation as something to enhance as well as just protect, the quality of answers on Q&A services is rapidly improving.
F-Together Makes Shopping Social
While group buying platforms such as Groupon are revolutionizing local, consumers typically do not know the other members of the group that they are buying with. So, while consumers get to leverage the power of the web to benefit from better deals, the actual shopping experience frequently lacks the F-Factor. Consumers have strong incentives to share certain purchases, especially for F-Factor-friendly experiences such as buying event tickets where consumers can now automatically invite friends to a concert or movie right after purchasing a ticket.
F-Me Individualizes the F-Factor
Trendwatching.com refers to the trend of personalized products and services based on the activities and output of one’s social network as ‘F-Me’. This includes services that turn a user’s Facebook page into a daily newspaper and a user’s Twitter feed into a published journal.
Look for ‘Twinsumers’ and ‘Social-lites’
Both of these types of online consumers were identified by Trendwatching.com in December 2010 as critical to spreading positive word of mouth recommendations. Twinsumers are consumers with similar consumer patterns, likes and dislikes, and who are valuable sources for recommendations on what to buy and experience while ‘Sociallites’ are consumers who consistently broadcast information to a wide range of associates online.
Social Networking and the integration of social factors with websites, online marketing and eCommerce are imperative in any Internet Initiative today. Contact Internet Builder Consulting and the Social Marketing Builders social networking experts to build a BETTER website or Social Media Marketing solution today at 816-842-7774.

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