Why Customers are your Best Digital Marketers

August 3, 2018 / James Hughes

Companies are investing more than ever into their social media campaigns, with many decision-makers hearing over and over again that social media is the future of marketing. But does evidence exist to support the idea that social media makes consumers buy more? And how much of the burden to produce social media content should be on the company, and how much should be on the consumers themselves?

Khim-Yong, Cheng-Suang, & Zhijie (2013) attempted to empirically show the impact that social media behaviors had on consumer purchasing. After detailed analysis of social media posts, they found that YES! Posting on social media does influence customers to buy more products. More importantly, however, they found that the best advocates were actually the consumers themselves, with positive, productive reviews produced by other consumers were twenty-two times more influential than posts by the businesses themselves (22 times!!).

Advice for Managers:

The researchers had several pieces of advice for social media marketing managers. First, they cautioned against relying solely on users to generate content for them. While user generated content is more effective than business generated, organizations still need to produce enough material to start conversations and stay engaged with their consumers.

Secondly, they recommend using very targeted and directed communication with consumers. Identify those consumers who would benefit best from discounts or promotions and speak to them directly. Responding to comments, concerns, and highlighting positive posts are a great way to maintain positive dialogues with your customers.

Thanks for reading,

James Hughes, Data Science


Khim-Yong, G., Cheng-Suang, H., & Zhijie, L. (2013). Social Media Brand Community and Consumer Behavior: Quantifying the Relative Impact of User- and Marketer-Generated Content. Information Systems Research, 24(1), 88-107. doi:10.1287/isre.1120.0469