Survey: 62% Of Consumers Say Social Media Doesn’t At All Influence Their Purchasing Decisions



It shouldn’t come as a surprise to savvy social media marketers, but consumers really aren’t interested in what you are selling.

That is the main social media finding in a report released by Gallup today, showing that people say they use social media to be … social … with friends and family and don’t believe that messages from brands and businesses are affecting their buying habits.


Sixty-two percent of the 18,000 survey respondents claimed that social media had no influence at all on their purchasing decisions. A meager 5% said social media exerted “a great deal of influence.”


The results weren’t much different when considering Millennials, the born-after-1980 demographic most engaged with social media. In the survey, 48% of Millennials said social sites weren’t a factor in their consumer decision making.


Even when considering brands that consumers “like” or follow on social networks, the reported correlation still remains relatively weak, with 34% saying that social media had no influence and 53% saying it had some influence.


Of course, the survey results should be read for what they are, a set of self-reported perceptions. How many people when asked if they are influenced by advertising admit to it? How many would say advertising strongly affects decisions about the purchases they make?


Even so, the results — a section of Gallup’s “State of the American Consumer: Insights for Business Leaders” report — are a useful reminder of that brands and businesses should approach social media differently. The $5.1 billion spent on social advertising in 2013 is expected to triple by 2018 and wise marketers will want to make sure their spending isn’t wasted.



94% Say They Are On Social Networks To Connect With Friends, Family

And that means crafting a strategy that keeps in mind the reasons why people join and participate on social networks. According to Gallup, 94% of them say they are there to connect with friends and family, while 29% follow trends and find product reviews and information, and 20% to comment on what’s hot or new or to review products.

In that environment, Gallup recommends, brands should avoid the hard sell and use social media to enhance their overall customer engagement efforts, on and offline. Fully engaged customers “represent an average 23% premium in terms of share of wallet, profitability, revenue, and relationship growth over the average customer” and such customers drive social engagement, not the other way around:

And any effort to engage customers must take place through both offline and online channels, as Gallup has consistently found that customer engagement is influenced in large part by how well a company aligns all of its touchpoints. Social media do not exist in a vacuum, and consumers rarely interact with companies through these channels alone. For example, Gallup’s research on the financial services industry reveals that 79% of customers visit the branch lobby for transactions and other services, while 11% of customers follow their bank on Facebook and 5% follow their bank on Twitter. In the retail industry, Gallup research shows that 56% of shoppers base their purchasing decisions on in-store displays and that 7% base their decisions on social media content.

Wither Social Media?

So where does that leave social media? How should businesses react to these results? Gallup’s prescription will sound familiar:

  1. Authentic. Social media sites are highly personal and conversational. And, as Gallup finds, consumers who use these sites do not want to hear sales pitches. They are more likely to listen and respond to companies that seem genuine and personable. They want to interact with a human, not a brand. Companies should back away from the hard sell and focus on creating more of an open dialogue with consumers.
  2. Responsive. The social media world is 24/7, and consumers expect timely responses — even on nights and weekends. Companies must be available to answer questions and reply to complaints and criticisms. Ignoring negative feedback can do even more damage to a brand’s reputation. Instead, companies need to actively listen to what their customers are saying and respond accordingly. If mistakes were made, they must own up to them and take responsibility.
  3. Compelling. Content is everywhere, and consumers have the ability to pick and choose what they like. Companies have to create compelling, interesting content that appeals to busy, picky social media users. This content should be original to the company and not related to sales or marketing. Consumers need a reason to visit and interact with a company’s social media site and to keep coming back to it.

You can download the full report at this link.

Related Topics: Channel: Social Media Marketing | Social Media Marketing | Top News


About The Author: is Third Door Media's Social Media Correspondent, reporting on the latest news for Marketing Land and Search Engine Land. He spent 24 years with the Los Angeles Times, serving as social media and reader engagement editor from 2010-2014. A graduate of UC Irvine and the University of Missouri journalism school, Beck started started his career at the Times as a sportswriter and copy editor. Follow Martin on Twitter (@MartinBeck), Facebook and/or Google+.

Connect with the author via: Email | Twitter | Google+

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  • Sundeep Reddy

    the 62% of the consumers voted that social media doesn’t influence their purchasing decision should actually come under “don’t know” option too…because they don’t know or choosing to ignore that social media apparently influencing all their decisions. Unless they don’t use social media at all.

  • Tom Krager

    62% of ppl are idiots apparently because you are influenced whether you realize it or not.

  • Pat Grady

    Shocking, not. I do love the 3% who don’t know! Let’s be frank, if you don’t know, you’re heavily influenced by social media and shiny objects everywhere, doh!

  • Sophie Tran

    Though I wouldn’t phrase it exactly in the same way @tomkrager:disqus did, I do agree that “influence” does not always equate in a transaction. In the same way that it takes multiple impressions for the average brand to be memorable to the average customer, multiple/repeated impressions from a brand or product are also needed to influence customers. Each time a potential customer sees an advertisement or post about a brand or product, it becomes more memorable… which may turn into a real or tangible consideration to purchase, one that DOES equate monetary value.

  • Shazad

    62% don’t want to accept that social media has influence on them…

  • Dan Ang

    Even if social media ads is indeed influencing purchasing decisions, its very hard to track the actual conversion because they may be converting through other channels.

    I agree with Martin that the social media users are more receptive towards personal conversations rather than hard sells. Its why they are there in the first place — to connect with people on a personal level. I usually ignore all the hard selling ads on my FB news feed because Facebook itself makes it so convenient for users to scroll over the ads in split seconds.

    Lets face it. If you are trying to sell something in a place where people are not expecting to buy, how good can the conversion be?

  • Dan Ang

    You are right. i would see social media advertising more for awareness and building engagement. Social media is not the place to influence people through hard selling. You can only influence through constant engagement at a personal level. Which leads to the fact that if your objective is to sell on social media, it may be the wrong place to do so.

  • Guest

    @disqus_UNAbVEye7O:disqus, you seem quite knowledgable in this topic. Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

  • Sophie Tran

    Dan, you seem quite knowledgable in this topic. Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

  • Dan Ang

    Sophie, there’s still much to learn. Just that from my personal experience as a consumer, I’m doubtful of how effective really is social media marketing.

    If you join a community to sell, you are in the wrong place.

    If you join to connect and inspire others, then its a different ball game altogether. Through the connection and inspiration, thats where you start influencing people and make them look for you for services.

    Connect with me on twitter @ahdanmarketing. I tweet regularly my thoughts, lessons learnt as well as marketing advises, tips from the experts.

  • Sophie Tran

    Nice! I’ll connect with you on Twitter via @sophie_tran. I tweet mainly on tech, entrepreneurship including social entrepreneurship. I also tweet about social impact, social media, and a few other things.

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