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Social Media & Consumerism: Examples & Trends

Lesson Transcript
Instructor: LeRon Haire

LeRon Haire is an education professional with over 5 years experience in higher education within the University System of Georgia. Haire has received an MBA with a marketing undergraduate concentration and has the Georgia Assessments for the Certification of Educators, certified in Business Management.

The lesson will define consumerism and will go into detail on how social media can give customers a voice, give them access to instant information, and promote consumer retention. Updated: 11/24/2022


Consumerism in a social media context is the promotion of consumers' interests in purchasing goods and services. Social media has drastically changed the patterns of consumerism and how businesses relate to customers and how consumers communicate with each other.

One of the first ways in which social media has impacted consumerism is reach. Before social media, companies reached customers only by TV and radio ads, or perhaps flyers. Otherwise, they hoped to have a store in a good location with lots of walk-by traffic and visibility. With social media, businesses can reach consumers by running ad campaigns and utilizing software algorithms that target the most likely audience that would be interested in their products.

Fine-tuning this sort of reach increases the rate of return compared with more generic promotions of the past. Social media campaigns can also encourage consumers to spread a promotion themselves with rewards or incentives, involving customers with business advertising at no cost to the business.

Instant Information

From a consumer perspective, social media adds convenience to the shopping experience. Before social media and the internet, consumers seeking information on a product often had to speak to a store employee or to someone they knew that actually used the product. That significantly changed with social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter, Reddit and Instagram, which are full of free information that can be accessed at any time by anyone easily and quickly.

A consumer may be able to get information from a company website about a product, but they may still have questions. Social media also impacts consumerism by allowing customers to access direct product information from communicating with stores or other consumers directly.

Interested in a laptop but can't tell from the pictures or specs how many USB ports it has? Ask social media! Complete strangers may answer your questions, or you could tag the company and possibly even hear directly from the manufacturer. Using social media to find out these details can eliminate the need to visit a brick-and-mortar location, thus eliminating time spent in a store as well as commuting.

Images and Visuals

You may have heard the phrase ''A picture is worth a thousand words.'' Being able to see something often provides much more clarity than only hearing about it. This is another prime example of how social media has affected consumerism in today's market. In the past, consumers were only able to see their desired products by visiting a store that carried them, or by briefly seeing the product perfectly curated during a television commercial.

Social media can provide pictures and videos for consumers who want to see a product before purchasing, particularly from other consumers using that product. Access to these images can be a deciding factor on whether or not to buy it. Websites and ads often show the product with a white background and ideal lighting and sound. A food dehydrator may look great until you see a consumer post of it, revealing that it is actually quite small and very loud. With social media, potential consumers can see the scale of the product and its real-life application without having to leave their homes or suffer buyer's remorse.

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