You may think everybody on the Internet spends all their time on Facebook but when it comes to purchasing products and services, that’s not necessarily where they’re hanging out.
According to recent research by Visible Technologies, a social media monitoring company in Bellevue, Wash., people — and women in particular — demonstrating “purchasing intent” are more likely to use forums than Facebook.
Sometimes you just don’t want to broadcast information widely, says Carly Wilcox, Visible’s director of research and analytics. Forums provide a little safer feeling for people.
According to the data, Twitter is the top-scoring channel for such conversations, but as Wilcox notes, it’s a platform that’s designed for immediacy — real-time events, social campaigns, driving awareness, etc. — rather than for conducting in-depth research.
Forums, on the other hand, provide a sense of security and commonality by allowing a degree of anonymity and fostering a level of communication that you just can’t get in 140 characters.
Forums offer a real resource where people are leaving information, writing responses and helping each other out, says Wilcox. Once you reach out to that anonymous person and you’ve made that connection, then you can continue the conversation offline if you both want to.
That’s the value proposition at RealSelf.com, where people considering cosmetic surgery can communicate with others like them, doctors can get a sense of what consumers are interested in (and provide answers to questions) and the give-and-take carries no commitment to buy.
And with more people turning to social media for plastic surgery research all the time, that value is only going to increase.