Is social shopping putting people off? Facebook and Twitter icons ‘influence online buying’

06/03/2012

Online purchase decisions can be positively and negatively influenced by displaying the Facebook and Twitter icons next to products, according to new research. The study was conducted by the University of Miami School Of Business administration, in collaboration with Empirica Research and StyleCaster Media group, and surveyed nearly 200 consumers.

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The finding indicate that consumers care about how they will be publically perceived when buying a product online.

Displaying the Facebook Like button or Tweet button for Twitter can either increase the chance of purchase or reduce the probability of buying.

Online shoppers who saw a social media icon next to a product that could embarrass them had less chance of buying it than those who saw the product online without a social media icon next to it.

Alternatively, consumers who saw products with icons next to them that they would be proud to be seen buying were more likely to purchase the product than if it did not have an icon.

Products people were happy to display to the public, like sportswear or a fragrance, were 25% more likely to be purchased with Facebook and Twitter icons next to them.

If the product, however, were of a more private nature, like Spanx or Clearasil, the likelihood of purchased decreased by 25%.


The impact on intended buying behavior emerged regardless of whether people had any memory of having seen the social media icons. This suggests that these symbols have penetrated people's unconscious processes and can influence decisions and behavior in ways that may bypass our awareness and ability to control.

"Our study finds that the mere presence of social media icons on a web page where we shop appears to cause us to feel as if our purchases are being watched by our social network, and we adjust our buying decisions accordingly," said Claudia Townsend, an assistant professor of marketing at the School of Business, who conducted the research with Emperica's David Neal. "Marketers should be aware that the placement of these symbols in their web design strategy could have a major impact on buying behaviour."

Read the original report here

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