American Consumers and Social Media

March 20, 2017

Recently, Marketing Charts summarized some key points from a report by SUMO Heavy Industries based on their survey data of 1,003 U.S. adults (52% female). Here are the interesting bits of data that KMG members may find of interest, personally or professionally. 

  • 90% use social media

  • 40% said they have bought something they saw on social media

  • 23% use social media for specific information such as learning about a product

  • Fewer than 20% have purchased something directly through social media, though up from 10% in an earlier survey from 2016

  • 45% have said that social media has had some influence on a few of their purchasing decisions, with most influence coming from posts by family and friends

  • 83%  would share their excitement about a purchase on social media (mostly Facebook, Pinterest in 2nd)

  • Largest concerns are security (76% of respondents), privacy(65% of respondents), and legitimacy of purchase (64% of respondents)

Insight: Social media is clearly not a strong marketplace for actually buying and selling goods, however, the volume of users and their data combined with the ad targeting algorithms simply means that social media can't be ignored. Platforms such as Facebook and Pinterest are very useful for a company to receive earned media; consider that 83% of adults surveyed would share a happy purchase decision with their friends, colleagues, and family members through social media. (SUMO, 2016)

For a company like Facebook to successfully compete in online retail, they would need to seriously improve the users' perceptions of their social marketplace's security, privacy, and legitimacy. Perhaps Craigslist and eBay may need to be weary of a future threat from the Facebook Marketplace if these issues are significantly mitigated in minds of their huge user base.