A survey released by Gallup reports that a majority of Americans claim social media have no effect on their purchasing decisions. This is a particularly interesting finding given  the large number of companies running extensive marketing campaigns based on social media. More than 62% of U.S. respondents to the Gallup survey said Facebook Inc (NASDAQ:FB), Twitter Inc (NYSE:TWTR) and other social networking site, do not have any influence on their product purchasing decisions.

Details on the survey

According to Gallup’s just-released State of the American Consumer report, despite the large numbers of Americans who use social media including Facebook Inc (NASDAQ:FB), Google+, LinkedIn Corp (NASDAQ:LNKD) and Twitter Inc (NYSE:TWTR) on a daily basis, only 5% of survey respondents said social media have “a great deal of influence” on their purchasing decisions. Just over 30% admitted that social media did have “some influence” on their buying habits.

The report points out this might be related to people conceiving of SM as mainly a networking tool. The survey reported an overwhelming 94% of social media users say they use SM to primarily to connect with friends and family. Moreover, only 29% of respondents said they use social media to follow trends and find product reviews or information.

Social media purchasing influence by generation

Social Media influence on purchasing decisions
Social Media

The results of the survey show, however, that there is a significant generational impact to respondents’ use of social media to make purchasing decisions. Around 75% of pre-Baby Boomers say SM has no impact their buying decisions; 67% of Baby Boomers make the same claim, as do 57% of Generation X and 48% of Millennials. Only 16% of pre-Baby Boomers say that SM has some influence on their purchasing decisions, compared to 26% of baby Boomers, 34% of Generation X and 43% of Millennial. Just 3% of pre-Baby boomers admitted that SM had a great deal of influence on their buying, while 4% of Baby Boomers, 6% of Generation X and 7% of Millennials said the same.

Social Media influence on purchasing decisions by generation
Social Media

Social media may have unacknowledged impact

The Gallup report did point out that it was quite possible that social media may have more influence than many people “realize or will admit”, but highlighted that the data make it very clear that few consumers consciously consider input from social media when making purchases.

Socail Media Usage

 

6/23/2014 5:40PM EST – Facebook emailed the following comment to ValueWalk

The only thing this poll shows is that self-reported behavioral data is unreliable. For decades, studies that look at people’s actual, real-world behavior have shown that ads on all mediums, including social media, affect the things people buy. The most successful marketers in the world don’t just take our word for it when it comes to ad effectiveness, they’ve asked us to prove that our ads work. And we have. Those marketers hold us to a very high standard; we look at actual changes in attitudes and behaviors using experimental design — the same approach used in medical trials.