Gallup: Americans Don’t Think Social Media Affects What We Buy

by Harry Sheff

A study conducted by Gallup found that 62 percent of Americans don’t make any connection between social media and what they purchase. Another 30 percent admit to some influence on the part of social media and just 5 percent said it had “a great deal of influence.” According to Gallup’s estimates, U.S. companies spent $5.1 billion on social media advertising in 2013.

“While social media may have more influence than some Americans realize or will admit, these data show that relatively few consumers consciously take into account what they learn from social media when making purchases,” Gallup said in a summary of the study.

The numbers were part of a larger study on 18,525 adult American consumers conducted via the Internet and mail between Dec. 12, 2012 and Jan. 22, 2013.

When broken down by age, the numbers didn’t change too much; 48 percent of so-called millenials (people born after 1980) said social media had “no influence at all” on their purchases.

“Even among American consumers who ‘like’ or follow a company on Facebook or Twitter, 34 percent say that social media have no influence at all on their buying decisions, while 53 percent say they have some influence,” Gallup said in its summary. “Gallup research shows that when it comes to making purchasing decisions, consumers are much more likely to turn to friends, in-store displays, television commercials, and even mail catalogs and magazines than to consult a company-sponsored Facebook page or Twitter feed.”

This may sound distressing at first, but it confirms MR‘s anecdotal research among retailers. Most of them tell us they don’t use social media for sales, but rather relationship building, customer engagement and general marketing. All the independent retailers we spoke to for our April issue article on social media were adamant about avoiding sales pitches on social media.

“[Social media] allows us to share some interesting stories that aren’t necessarily apparel or menswear-centric (art, music, film interests, etc.), broaden the voice of our brand, and more than anything, it’s a great way to communicate with our customers,” Steve Shuck of Stag in Austin, Texas told us.