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People You Know Influential, Social Media Isn’t, in Purchase Decisions

People may be more honest on Facebook these days, but we still don’t trust them. MediaPost reports that an ARAnet study shows social media and search engine recommendations coming out tied among the general population—but search engine recommendations leap out in front among affluent (>$75,000/yr—49%) and younger adults (25-34—50% vs. 31% for social media).

However, the general consensus was that personal advice from friends or family members was tops, with 59% rating it as important in influencing their buying decisions. But to me, that sounds like a completely different dynamic—are we supposed to be measuring the influence of people we know vs. strangers vs. corporate messages, or are we measuring what medium is more influential? If your mom delivers her advice via your Facebook wall, are you less likely to take it than if she told you in a phone call? Is it surprising that most people trust people they know, who know them and their preferences, than random strangers on search engines or social networks?

Maybe the medium isn’t the message.

The full breakdown, however, does show an interesting breakdown among the information from people we don’t know (and from corporate sources):

Overall, most people participating in the survey — 59% — choose personal advice from friends or family members; followed by TV news or other broadcasts at 40%; search engines Google, Bing, Yahoo or Ask at 39%; TV ads, 36%; articles in newspapers or magazines, 33%; newspapers or magazines ads, 31%; online articles, 28%; and radio news or other broadcasts ads, 25%.

The remainder of the breakdown follows. Direct mail came in at 24%; radio ads, 20%; emails from retailers or manufacturers, 20%; online ads, 19%; messages or posts on social media, such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn or MySpace, 18 percent; and billboards, 15%.

Also note that the younger segment found social media to be far more influential than the general population did—31% vs. 18%. They also liked corporate information more: 32% (vs 20% for all respondents) appreciated information in emails from retailers or manufacturers, and 30% believed online ads were influential.

So really, what we’re saying is that younger people on the Internet are more influenced by random strangers and advertising.

What do you think? Is it the source of information or the medium used to convey it that has more influence here?

  • http://www.bigpictureweb.com Josh Braaten

    There are a few different recent surveys out there all worded slightly differently. All of them are attempting measure who people trust the most. Ultimately I suspect it comes down to semantics and that it’s just about finding people you know that can speak with authority on the topics that concern you, whether you classify it as “friends and family” or “social media.”
    .-= Josh Braaten´s last blog ..4 Pro Tips for Managing Your Brand Online =-.

  • http://www.frankthinking.com Frank Reed

    If it’s not the source of the information then what the heck is going on with people? Since when did just being a part of Facebook or Twitter make a stranger more ‘reliable’?

    I find it hard to believe that anyone would be so gullible as to let someone influence them because they could fog up a Facebook or Twitter account.

    But, then again, I thought Tiger Woods was a nice guy so go figure ;-)
    .-= Frank Reed´s last blog ..A Classic SMB Internet Marketing Story – Our Friends’ Closet =-.

  • http://www.mouse-mat.com Mat

    The medium is irrelevent, Its the source thats important. Known and authoritive sources will always rate top of the league regardless of what medium is used to convey the recomendation.

  • http://blog.tamar.com/ Henry Elliss, Tamar

    The confusing thing about a lot of these surveys is the definition of “social media sites” and the differentiation between that and “personal recommendations”. As a regular user of Facebook, Twitter et al, I’d actually count a message from somebody I know ON those networks as a “personal recommendation” – and if asked in a survey, I’d call it that – which is obviously not the message they are trying to get across. Another survey with half-useful information, spoilt by badly-defined questions…
    .-= Henry Elliss, Tamar´s last blog ..Labour disregards SEO with campaign page =-.