Individual Decisons?

Social media impacts how people make decisions. The ability to reach a decision withouth first reading comments seems to be something of the past. To some extent, I agree with Qualman’s notion that social media allows individuals to make more informed purchasing decisions because of user reviews and conversations regarding products. Indeed, I have read user reviews before making purchases, specifically online or expensive purchases. For instance, before I purchased a motorcycle helmet online, I read the reviews of the product. Most were good, so I felt more comfortable spending the money on the product. However, I also based my decision on the fact that the helmet was DOT and Snell certified.

While the reviews provided by one’s social network may be helpful, doing research beyond user reviews may be beneficial. Qualman’s example of “Suzy” and her purchase of a vacation package based on her social media network provides a good example of how additional research may be helpful. Qualman states, “Suzy sees two of her friends both took a trip to Chile through GoAhead Tours and rated it highly. It’s within her budget, and the same package is available. She quickly snatches it up. . .”( p. 95). Indeed, perhaps this process saved Suzy some time, but the process assumes that everyone enjoys the same things. That is, Suzy made her decision based on what her contacts enjoyed, not necessarily on what she would enjoy, or what her husband may enjoy. Of course it is normal to ask friends and family for advice, but other factors should also be considered in the decision making process.

Qualman notes that without social media, “She [Suzy] probably would’ve narrowed down her choices after hours of research,” (p. 95). The idea is that hours of research is too much time these days. However, in so doing, she would have been responsible for her own decision—or is it just easier to allow others to make decisions for us? By doing the research, Suzy and her husband may have found that Brazil really made more sense than Chile based on both of their travel desires.  For expensive and important decisions, such as a once in a life-time vacation, a few hours of research may be worthwhile. Just because my neighbor enjoyed Antarctica doesn’t mean I will like Antarctica!

Qualman notes, “What this truly means is that in the future we will no longer seek products and services, rather they will find us,” (p. 89). To some extent, advertising has always worked in this capacity. Every time we view a billboard or a commercial, products “find us” However, social media allows our “friends” to become the promoters of products. Essentially, user reviews of products can be very helpful in the decision making process. At the same time, we should also base our decisions on our own personal feelings and attitudes towards products and trips. We are individuals, and as such we are capable of making individual decisions.




Posted on October 21, 2012, in Social Media. Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. Paul, I like your point regarding advertising and products finding us. I hadn’t considered that advertising really has always worked in the capacity that Qualman relates only to social media.

    I agree to with your point of making individual decisions, but do think that social media muddies the waters some. Meaning, even though I would like to think I make the final choice on my kitchen appliance purchase (for instance), the truth is my decision is greatly swayed by reviews (online, Consumer Reports, or otherwise). I simply won’t buy something with bad reviews, it seems to be asking for trouble in my opinion. So is it really any different that folks now are checking comments left by their social media contacts? Just a thought!

  2. Very well written post. Consider this list of the 30 Biggest Social Media Advertisers of 2012: next time you’re researching something!

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