Like It or Not, Friends and Followers Impact Consumer Behavior

Jul 10, 12 Like It or Not, Friends and Followers Impact Consumer Behavior

Suggestion! Society claims suggestion is extremely powerful; so powerful, in fact, that our friends’ suggestions can have large impacts on our own purchasing decisions.

In this mobile age, we have significant evidence to say communication amongst the masses is growing with texting, social networking, and blogging. On Facebook and Twitter alone, people get as much information from “friends” based on their last status updates or Tweets as to where they are, who they are with, what they are doing or thinking, and, most importantly, what they are consuming, “liking,” or “sharing” through photos and posts.

According to Facebook, “because of the strength of a friend’s endorsement, communication through Facebook Platform can help high-quality products grow tremendously.”1 After all, if you can’t trust your friends’ opinions (and their endorsements), whose can you trust?

Social channels have affected purchasing decisions for over 60% of the population according to an interoffice survey.

While several social channels from Twitter to YouTube have impacts on purchasing decisions, Facebook has the largest affect on consumer behavior. Possibly this trend exists because Facebook allows us to bring all of our social channels together; we can “like”  YouTube videos, “share” tweets, pin memes to our boards, or link blogs and have all that information shared in one place: our Facebook timelines. Or maybe it’s because Facebook is also the most used social channel. Whatever the reason, our “likes” and “shares” influence how our friends spend their dollars.

Not surprisingly, the tech-savvy, young adult population (18 to 24-years-old) leads this purchasing trend, but just barely. Sixty-two percent of the younger population claims social channels have influenced past purchases compared to 60% of those age 25 or older. The generational difference comes in the social channel medium. In addition to Facebook, other social channels (Twitter, YouTube, Pinterest, and blogs) impact the younger consumers, while the older generation restricts their influence to Facebook. Utilizing social channels comes naturally to young adults as they grew up with social networks. The young adults of today are the mass consumers of tomorrow. Since they are a population more likely influenced by social channels, marketers have to explore different ways to trend their brands and products on social media platforms through contests, sweepstakes, and incentives for “likes,” “shares,” or “check-ins.” Each time people share your brand with their friends, your product is promoted.

While generation plays a role in social channels, so does ethnicity. According to the survey results, 75% of Hispanics “like”/“follow” companies via social networks (almost a quarter more than the general market). Sixty percent of Hispanics who “like”/“follow” companies have made purchases based on the companies’ social media campaigns. Why are Hispanics leading the trend? They are young—and the younger the market, the more successful the social channels.

Advertisers cannot ignore the effectiveness of social channels (also known as “word-of-mouth advertising”); they can impact your brand both positively and negatively depending on how consumers are presenting your products to their friends, followers, and subscribers. No matter the brand or product, NOW is the time to implement social media platforms.  If your targets are young adults or teens, make sure that your brand is not only “like”—able, but also speaks to your specific target. Possibly, a teen would not respond to a recipe contest, but they just may “share” your photo to win a free tee-shirt. Each time people engage with your brand’s social media account, they are announcing this engagement to their friends and suggesting they check out the brands themselves.

“These survey results demonstrate the effectiveness social channels have on driving purchasing power,” said George L. San Jose, president and chief creative officer of The San Jose Group. “Our diverse multicultural environment at the agency grants insights into how people of different ages and ethnicities are responding to social channels.”


1. “Social Channels.” (2012). Facebook. Retrieved from

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