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Consumers don't use social networks for purchasing guidance

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Whilst 83% of the US internet population aged between 13 and 54 participates in social media, less than 5% of social media users regularly turn to these sites for guidance on purchase decisions, according to How People Use Social Media, a new study by Knowledge Networks. In addition, only 16% of social media users say they are more likely to buy from companies that advertise on social sites.

The researchers looked at nine different product and service categories and did find some variations between them. For clothes and shoes, 3% regularly turn to social media for purchasing guidance and 23% sometimes use social media. For groceries, though, only 2% turn to it regularly and 13% sometimes. Travel and travel services scored the highest result, with 4% regularly turning to social media for purchasing guidance and 24% sometimes.

Unsurprisingly, 'staying connected' — to friends and family, as well as meeting new people — is by far the 'most liked' (54%) aspect of participating in social media.

"Our findings show that marketers need to be prudent and people-centric in how they approach social media," says David Tice, vice president at Knowledge Networks. "Social media users do not have a strong association between these sites and purchase decisions; they see them as being more about personal connection, so finding ways to embrace that powerful function is key."
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