Social media has quickly become a new arrow in the marketing communications quiver. Because of this, marketers are beginning to scrutinize their knowledge of the consumer decision-making process against how those decisions are influenced by the messages consumers receive. Regardless of the source, messages have many components to them, which are primarily centered on five attributes: authority, persuasiveness, reach, frequency and recall (if they are memorable). Messages are received by the consumer or prospect and the consumer responds to them in specific ways. There has been, and will continue to be, a good deal of research in this area. The following represents the state-of-the-art research about how consumers respond to received messages in the marketplace and then eventually make purchase decisions at the “first moment of truth”1—the store shelf. The consumer purchase funnel and brand image—a model that has been in use for many years—represent how authority and persuasiveness translate into metrics that can be measured. They are the defining component of the MEF and represent the endpoint—the purchase—for traditional and social media marketing.
We have talked about how, in many ways, social media is similar to traditional media. Messages are received by individuals who process those messages and then act. Upon receipt of a message with traditional media, the individual could: