Social Media For Commercial Decisions

A new report by Knowledge Networks reports that 83% of the Internet population (ages 13 to 54) participates in social media, with 47% on a weekly basis. However, less than 5% of social media users regularly turn to these sites for guidance on purchase decisions in any of nine product/service categories. In addition, only 16% of social media users say they are more likely to buy from companies that advertise on social sites.

"Social media use" was defined as having visited any one of 27 social sites or having used social features on other sites. Participation in social media is widespread among those 13 to 54, but when asked whether they regularly turn to these sites when trying to make a purchase decision, the highest percentages among nine categories were 4%, for travel and banks/financial services.

Social Media Users Who Turn to Social Media For Purchase Decision Information


Frequency (% of Respondents)

Product/Service Category

"Regularly" turn to social media

"Sometimes" turn to social media

Travel or travel services



Banks or financial services



Clothes or shoes



Eating out or restaurants



Cell/mobile phones and service



Personal care products



Cars or trucks



Groceries or food



Prescription or OTC drugs



Source: KnowledgeNetworks, May 2009

 63% of social media users agree that ads are a "fair price to pay" for use of these sites and features, but only 16% say they are more likely to buy from advertising brands. 54% "most like" staying connected to friends and family, and meeting new people, about participating in social media.

The study also shows that:

  • 34% of social media users report using these sites or features more often now compared to a year ago, while 18% said they use them less
  • just 1% of the total online population, and the same proportion of social media participants, uses Twitter once a week or more
  • 60% of social media participants say they only access these sites and features at home

David Tice, Vice President and Group Account Director, Knowledge Networks, says "... social media users do not have a strong association between these sites and purchase decisions... they see them as being more about personal connection... (though) the fact that they are using social media more now than a year ago is a strong indicator (of) the influence of these sites... "

For the purposes of this study, social media users were defined as those who ever use any of 27 pre-specified websites commonly categorized as social media sites, or those who have used social media features on other websites that are not primarily social media sites.

Sites Commonly Categorized As Social Media Sites

Source: Source: KnowledgeNetworks, May 2009

And, MarketingProfs announced the results of a small, informal survey that shows Twitter is rapidly gaining acceptance among users as an important social media business tool. According to the survey of mostly small businesses, 84% of respondents said they expect their company's use of Twitter to increase over the next six months, 46% saying "by a significant" margin.

Currently, 66% consider Twitter either "somewhat important" or "extremely important" to their company's business/marketing operations, compared to 29% who consider it "not very important."

On a five-point scale, 41% of respondents said Twitter delivers "great value" to their company, ranking ahead of LinkedIn, which garnered 25% of that category, and Facebook, which had 17%. Corporate blogs ranked at the top of the list with 52% saying it delivered great value, according the survey of more than 200 Twitter users.

Ann Handley, Chief Content Officer for MarketingProfs, concludes that "This data shows that Twitter users, typically early adopters, no longer think of Twitter as just a personal networking tool... "

MarketingProfs' survey results are part of a new case study collection Twitter Success Stories: "How 11 companies are achieving their marketing objectives, 140 characters at a time," conducted between April 11-14, 2009. It included a total of 213 completed responses, 66% of which were filled out by people with fewer than 50 people in their company. The rest of the breakdown:

  • 101-1000 employees... 14.6%
  • 1000+ employees... 11.3%
  • 51-100 employees...  8%

For more information from Knowledge Networks, please visit here, and to read more about the MarketingProfs study, please visit here.


1 comment about "Social Media For Commercial Decisions".
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  1. Jd Norman from Winsper, Inc, May 28, 2009 at 10:13 a.m.

    I don't want to imply that there's no value in Twitter; clearly (or not), there is. But, according to the first study, just 1% of the total online population, and the same proportion of social media participants, uses Twitter once a week or more. If that's the case then how, according to the second study referenced above, 66% consider Twitter either "somewhat important" or "extremely important" to their company's business/marketing operations?

    I think it's easy to project one's personal use of Twitter, and the time commitment and effort, as representative of the importance others place on it. But I do hope Twitter lives up to the hype and, more importantly, the promise it represents.

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