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Social Media Aren't Seen as Guiding Buyer Decisions

Although a majority of the Internet population frequently use social-media sites, when it comes time to shop for a new pickup truck or different brand of shampoo, buyers don't rely on those sites to help them make purchase decisions, a recent study shows.

Nevertheless, a related study found that a high percentage of companies expect their use of social networking to grow this year.

Eighty-three percent of the Internet population, the segment of society - aged 13 to 54 who use the Web, visit social-media sites, according to the first study. And of those, nearly half, or 47%, visit those sites on a weekly basis. However, the study, completed by Knowledge Networks, showed logging onto social-media sites has very little impact on users’ buying decisions.

Knowledge Networks, a consumer information company that provides market research, defines “social media use” as visits to any one of 27 predetermined social sites or the social features on other sites.

Although social-media use is high among the Internet population, less than 5% say they “regularly” turned to those sites for recommendations before making a purchase. The report listed nine product or service categories where social-media users would likely make purchases. None of the categories received higher than a 4% rating, and one—prescription and over-the-counter drugs—received only 1%.

David Tice, vice president and group account director of Knowledge Networks, says the report clearly shows that social-media users “do not have a strong association” between the sites labeled as social media and their purchase decisions.

“They see them as being more about personal connection,” Tice says. However, “the fact that they are using social media more now than a year ago is a strong indicator [of] the influence of these sites.”

The study also revealed that 60% of social-media participants say they access these sites and features only at home. Some of the commonly used dot-com sites are Facebook, Friendster, LinkedIn, MySpace, Reunion, Twitter and YouTube.

In a related survey, MarketingProfs said that Twitter is quickly gaining acceptance among users as an important social-media business tool. Among 213 completed responses, 84% said they expected their company's use of Twitter to increase during the next six months.
Sixty-six percent said they consider Twitter either “somewhat important” or “extremely important” to their company's business/marketing operations, compared with 29% who consider it “not very important."

MarketingProfs is an online resource that offers information regarding marketing applications of social-media tools along with coverage of more-traditional marketing topics, such as lead-generation and e-mail marketing.

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