Majority of consumers use social networks to influence buying decisions (Gartner)

A majority of consumers’ buying decisions are influenced by social networks, according to a new study from research firm Gartner, says ReadWriteWeb. Three types of key influencers (20% of users) are heeded by 74% of all consumers.

We’d like to see this analysis applied to health decisions, compared to Pew data, and tracked as time goes by: as more consumers “go e” will we see an increase?

See the RWW post for descriptions of the three influencer types: “salesmen,” “connectors,” “mavens.”


Posted in: found on the net | trends & principles




14 Responses to “Majority of consumers use social networks to influence buying decisions (Gartner)”

  1. Gee, if they’re going to use Yiddish for one category (i.e., maven) why not use that fine language for the other two? Connectors would thus be called yentas. As for salesmen (sic), the words fonfer, yentser and ganef come to my mind.

    • So, Meredith, you gonna go say that on their original post?? Have at ’em?

      (fwiw, to me the whole consultant thing of naming personas is usually just a game to begin with, though I must say Forrester’s Engagement Ladder is an exception – those names are pretty meaningful, and free of the social foolishness you cite.)

  2. RT @jourpm: Majority of consumers use social networks to influence buying decisions (Gartner) #yam

  3. Susannah Fox says:

    I saw an excellent presentation yesterday by Paul Cebulak from Yelp:

    The idea for Yelp was hatched when one of the founders got sick in a new city and didn’t know how to find a good doctor.

    Now, only 5% of reviews are for health-related entities (more than half are for shopping & restaurants, reflecting what we all prefer to be doing) but those reviews are influential.

    Paul’s case study showed a lasik eye surgeon in L.A. who did an analysis of referrals: 95% of patients who came to him based on what they read on Yelp went through with the surgery — a much higher rate than any other kind of referral.

    And doctors/hospitals/etc. don’t necessarily need to fear the scrutiny of their customers: 85% of Yelp reviews are positive. As Paul said, customer service is the new marketing. There is no way to game the system, he said, people will find a way to tell you (and everyone else) what happened, good or bad.

    I was really struck by that since our 2008 survey results show that 1 in 4 internet users who go online for health info say they have consulted online reviews or rankings of hospitals or health professionals. But only 5-6% have posted a review. Those questions are in our 2010 survey, so I’ll have an update this winter.

    • Joe McCarthy says:

      Ah, an interesting “origin story”. I’ve posted many reviews of restaurants and a few other service providers to Yelp, but never about health care (never even thought to read or write reviews about health care providers).

      I imagine the proportion of people who are – or feel – competent to judge the food, decor or service at a restaurant is far higher than the proportion of people who feel qualified to judge the quality of care they receive from a health care provider.

      It’s also far easier to try a new restaurant than try a new health care provider, and there may be higher risks associated with posting a negative review about a health care provider you continue to see than posting a negative review about a restaurant.

      Posting positive reviews may increase demand, and I’m not sure how much I benefit if more people seek the services of my doctor (vs. visit a restaurant I like).

      Finally, there are social status benefits to being seen as having good taste in restaurants … not sure being seen as someone with good taste in health care providers would confer the same sort of stature.

      Oh, and for anyone interested in the various types and levels of participation in online communities, I highly recommend Christopher Allen’s 3-part series on Community by the Numbers and Judd Antin and Coye Cheshire’s CSCW 2010 paper on Readers are Not Free-Riders: Reading as a Form of Participation in Wikipedia (I include a few observations, and embedded slideshare presentations, from this and two other short papers in my Notes from CSCW 2010 post).

  4. SusannahFox says:

    @hjluks @nickdawson More on the testimonials topic: Gartner data and my comment (please chime in):

  5. Susannah — What’s interesting, too, is the fact that many hospitals post their quality of care data on their sites, but consumers are not flocking to that info to inform their decisions. The Gov’s Hospital Compare site isn’t driving the kind of traffic expected either. Word of mouth remains king because that “word” is easy to understand (or wherever your physician tells you to go — the most powerful word, still).

    • Susannah Fox says:

      It really is about what’s findable, isn’t it? That was Paul Cebulak’s point as he made his pitch regarding Yelp’s business tools: Hospitals, group practices, and individual clinicians may as well get ready now for their 1- to 5-star close-ups.

      In the comment above I cited Pew Internet’s survey data on the low % of people who have posted reviews of health professionals & hospitals. We’ve also asked a more general question: as of April 2009, 31% of internet users have rated a product, service, or person online. There are not significant differences between age groups in this activity, which is a surprise to me – I think of it as a very Millennial activity.

      For even more outside-health-care perspectve, here’s a link to a 2008 report about the influence of online reviews (among other things):

      Online Shopping

      • erica says:

        I agree that it’s really important for medical providers to be monitoring and responding to what’s said about them on Yelp. A few years ago, I worked at a medical center and we saw a through Web analytics, a large portion of online patient referral coming from Yelp. Because of this we began watching the reviews and ratings and reaching out to patients with unusually positive or negative experiences to learn more about improving the patient experience overall.

  6. SusannahFox says:

    @PaulCaspar Pls chime in if you have time: Majority of consumers use social networks to influence buying decisions

  7. @swoodruff @ellenhoenig @cynthianorth #cbipharma see new @ericaholt comment re listening (last add here)

  8. SusannahFox says:

    Fieldwork: searching Yelp for health/medical reviews. Here's why: #hcsm

  9. @ePatientDave Thx interesting to see how influential Yelp is– @swoodruff @cynthianorth @ericaholt @SusannahFox

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