Behavior Tracking, Buyer Journey, Path to Purchase, Purchasing Decisions

  |   6 Min Read

How Social Media Influences Purchasing Decisions

The customer journey contains a variety of purchasing influencers like product and service reviews, targeted ads, and of course, social media. As we hear more about social media’s role in the current purchasing process, many important questions come to mind. Let’s take a look at how social media influences consumers along their path-to-purchase, and see what companies today can do to step up their social game.


Most social platforms have opened their doors to help marketers pursue the social consumer via gamification and special interactions. Twitter and Facebook play well with consumers who are ready to refer a product or service (today’s version of word-of-mouth marketing). Nearly all social platforms have success with campaigns focused on prizes, giveaways, and customer competitions.

A great example of a social media success is Sony’s leverage of the Twitter platform to incentivize additional purchases by offering 1,500 Twitter users the opportunity to customize their Vaio laptops. By offering a more personalized shopping experience via social, they managed to increase their sales of that laptop brand by $1.5 million during the special offer timeframe.


According to a Deloitte review, the percentage of consumers that use social media when shopping varied by the category of the item desired. Interestingly, shoppers seeking out baby and toddler items led the pack by 56%. These shoppers were followed closely by those seeking out home furnishings, electronics, and health and wellness. In addition, shoppers were 29% more likely to purchase on the same day that they used social media to assist them in their shopping endeavors. And those who used social media during the shopping process were four times more likely to spend more money on their purchases.


Not surprisingly, age factors into the influence that social media has on a consumer’s purchasing decisions. Millennials are especially primed for the social media experience, as they have grown up in the age of the internet and are very comfortable navigating through the online experience. Deloitte’s review found that social media influences a full 47% of millennials, compared to just 19% of non-millennials. These consumers also spent more when they used digital shopping methods.


As humans, we tend to let emotion fuel our purchases. Social media caters to the right side of our brains, so it makes sense that it plays a part in our purchasing decisions. According to an article by Social Media Today, 41% of people who purchase a product say they weren’t planning on buying an item before they stumbled upon it online.

Social media helps instill trust in a purchaser through fellow reviews and experiences. Consumers also tend to compare, contrast, and keep up with the purchases of their friends and family.

With 75% of consumers not accepting advertisements as truth, marketers have quite a bit of ground to cover to reach their target audiences and convince them to purchase a product. Referrals, reviews, and recommendations from trusted sources can help quell suspicions and form the confidence a buyer needs to pull the trigger and make a purchase.

Social media is a strong influencer in the world of e-commerce. Shares and recommendations of products or services help increase brand recognition, improve buyer trust, and drive sales. According to Hubspot, 71% of consumers are more likely to make a purchase based on a social media reference. As shoppers become more socially inclined and begin to base their opinions less on advertisements and more on consumer-to-consumer interaction, the role of social media is sure to steadily increase its influence on customer purchasing decisions.

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