Web 2.0 was an age when the Internet overcame its technical and consumer perception struggles and became mainstream. It was the age when social media became a multi-billion dollar business, when participating and sharing information online became popular and when more and more people became confident in ecommerce, providing feedback and tips to fellow consumers and friends.
With this trend came popular buttons and icons on almost any portion of a webpage worth sharing. The presence of a Facebook and Twitter icon next to an article or product for purchase is now a normal sighting. However, a study performed recently indicates that these icons, such as the Facebook “Like” and Twitter symbol on shopping websites will increase the likelihood that consumers will buy certain products, but for other products it may actually reduce the likelihood. Claudia Townsend, an assistant professor from the University of Miami said:
“Our study finds that the mere presence of social media icons on a web page where we shop appears to cause us to feel as if our purchases are being watched by our social network, and we adjust our buying decisions accordingly.”
For example, when buying products that are deemed desirable for public consumption
(such as sports equipment and fragrances), having a social media icon on the page made people 25 percent more likely to make a purchase. However, when the product was more private (for example, medicines and hygiene) the presence of these icons suppressed purchase likelihood by 25 percent. The consumer also often did not have any memory of having seen these icons.
Therefore, as an owner of a small business, one should be particularly aware of the consciousness of their online consumers. Just because it is popular to have a snappy website with social media icons doesn’t mean it’s always the best decision for your Internet sales. That said, for most businesses it’s a wise choice depending on your particular products and services. Most of our clients using social media icons find that their website address is shared at least 5 times per week, even for very small sites.
Either way, the power of social media can change consumer buying behavior and business owners need to be prudent with using these mediums correctly.