The results of a marketing study that Facebook conducted in collaboration with Forrester Research were recently published. They reveal some very interesting and significant changes in the world of marketing, and how professionals in the field now approach the task of promoting brands and products to consumers. The final verdict is that social media has produced great changes in the landscape of marketing. It has established its place on the list of primary mediums through which businesses now carry out their SEO and other marketing campaigns.

The article on Mashable that discusses this study features two interesting diagrams of how marketers used to format their purchase funnels in the TV-dominated era, and how they do so now in a social media-influenced time. The first process could be best described as a pyramidal structure with five steps. These are 1) Awareness; 2) Consideration; 3) Purchase; 4) Preference; 5) Loyalty.

What exactly do these steps outline? The first refers to how, in the past, consumers were usually made aware of a product through television or print advertisements. They then thought about the product before deciding to purchase it. After doing so, they would evaluate and determine how much they liked the product. If they liked it, they became “loyal” re-purchasers.

The new paradigm, however, is a huge change from the old one. It is no longer a pyramid, but a circle. It expresses how today’s consumer creates a world of connections via social media around him, so that when a product is presented to him, he simultaneously engages in four processes in order to evaluate it before purchasing it. These processes are: learn, investigate, purchase, and interact. The consumer makes use of all of his social media networks to engage in these activities, checking Facebook and Twitter accounts of both friends and companies to obtain a well-rounded view of the product.

Facebook and Forrester Research go on to propose a new plan to businesses for building their brands in a social media world. This plan involves meeting six points: articulate, connect, engage, influence, integrate, and rejuvenate. Several examples are listed in the Mashable article of how companies like Coca Cola, American Express, Sephora and more are forming creative ways of meeting these points using social media.

As this research shows, social media is well on its way to becoming an integral component of many business’s SEO marketing campaigns.