Online Shopping: the Influence of Social Media

The rise of Facebook and Twitter icons

The next time you surf the web and you are on your favourite retailer’s website and viewing their product range, look out for the Facebook and Twitter icons. These are otherwise known as social shareable ‘plugins’. These icons are having a direct influence on the way people shop online.

The likelihood of purchase

A new study by an American University has found that the presence of Facebook and Twitter icons on a shopping website has the capacity to increase the likelihood that consumers will buy certain products whilst also reducing the likelihood that they will buy others.

What would you share?

The study asked 200 participants to explore a variety of products which they would share with their online and social communities. These products included those such as women’s sportswear or colognes. The same study also asked the participants to look at those products that they didn’t want to share with their online communities (which could be deemed more embarrassing) such as underwear or acne medication.

The findings

It was found that products, such as cologne found on websites that had the Facebook and Twitter icons present were 25% more likely to be purchased. In comparison, the acne meditation (which is more private) suppressed purchase intentions by 25%.

The real surprise of the study came with the result that people didn’t realise they were altering their shopping habits because of the presence of Facebook and Twitter icons. The impact of buying the products emerged regardless of whether people even remembered seeing these social media icons. It was concluded that the social icons have been widely accepted and hence part of a person’s everyday subconscious.

Utilising the plugins

Many businesses today have utilised these social shareable plugins to ensure that their products are visible and visibility amplified online. However, these plugins have also been attributed to being a very powerful marketing tool that has the ability of creating and supporting word of mouth, online.

Web Pro News

Lastly, Drew Bowling from Web Pro News finished off by looking at the emotional behaviour that these plugins exert. He says:

icons representing Twitter and Facebook on shopping websites have become unintended mechanisms that can cause us to police our shopping habits. They inspire in us the unfounded speculation that we are being watched by omnipresent internet overlords who will then betray our privacy and broadcast details of our shopping habits to our online social networks.

Worse, it causes our imagination to turn against us as we worry about what our friends would say if they could only see what we were buying online. Reaching back to the simple psychological principles of punishment and reward, the impact of possibly sharing our purchase on our social networks could produce in us a sense of shame or a groundswell of pride

What do you think, have you ever clicked ‘share’ when you’re on a website? The Complete Savings blog wants to know.