The Impact of Social Media on Purchasing Behavior

The bottom line is that companies not engaging in social media as part of their online marketing strategy are missing an opportunity to reach consumers.Whisper

Word-of-mouth marketing remains one of the most effective marketing channels. Consumers don’t put a lot of trust in corporate blogs or social network profiles, but will readily listen to people–even if they are employed by the company selling the product–provided that they are open about their mission and relationship to the company.

To better understand this trend, DEI Worldwide commissioned OTX (Online Testing  eXchange) –an independent, global consumer research and consulting firm – to research the  influence  of  social  media  on  consumers’ purchase  decisions.  (Click here for a summary) The  study  was  designed  to  gain  deeper  insight  into  what  products  or  services  consumers  research  online,   what  online sources they use to gather information, and what they do with the information that they receive.

In the study, the term “social media  websites” refers to the following  online platforms:

  • Blogs
  • Chat Rooms
  • Instant Messengers
  • Message Boards / Forums
  • Video Sharing Websites
  • Social Networking Websites
  • Excludes: Review Sites, Twitters, and Wikis

The study shows that consumers rely on various types of social media websites as much as company websites for product and brand information. As a result, companies that utilize  social  media and engage directly with consumers have a greater opportunity to not only reach more customers, but also increase their likelihood of making a purchase.

Percentage of people who report the types of online sources they have visited to get information on a company, brand or product

  • Social Media Websites 70%
  • Company Websites 68%
  • Online News 57%
  • Review Sites 49%
  • Wikis 44%

Attitudes toward recommendations and  information provided by consumers online

  • Valuable 71%
  • Relevant 68%
  • Influence purchase decisions 67%
  • Influence perception 62%
  • Credible 60%
  • Honest 52%

Percentage of people who report they passed along the information they found online

  • Social Media Websites 45%
  • Company or News Sites 36%
  • Others 23%

Data from DEI  Worldwide/OTX “The Impact of Social Media on Purchasing behaviour”, 2008. For further details on socila media research, please contact their sales department at

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One Comment Add yours

  1. Crystal says:

    Thanks for this Mike. As I continue to teach small businesses about the wonders of the social media and the effect of the “conversation” it helps to have stats to back it up.

    What do you think a potential buyer does first? Research product/service on a third party review site and/or blog or a company website? Or do you think a lot still happen through traditional word of mouth?

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