Social networks influence purchases

Written by Press Trust of India | Washington | Updated: Jul 29 2010, 05:50am hrs
Social networking websites such as Facebook and Twitter are gradually emerging as important shopping tools as the majority of users now rely upon them to help make their purchasing decisions, a new survey has found.

The survey by Stamford-based research firm Gartner discovered that most of the users take suggestions from their friends through social networking sites before buying any product. The Gartner survey of nearly 4,000 consumers across 10 key markets, also found that these social networks often include people, who play different roles while recommending products to people they are connected with. Those people were classified into three major categories: Connectors, mavens and salesmen.

According to the report, the connectors are those who perform a bridging function between disparate groups of people and enjoy introducing people to each other. The Mavens are knowledge exchangers or information brokers, who are experts in particular area and people go to them for advice.

But they are not people who wish to convince people to buy certain items; they are more interested in acquiring new knowledge, it said. And the Salesmen, according to Gartner, are those, who have extensive social connections and the personality trait that persuade people around them to act on information in highly directed ways.

Our survey results showed that one-fifth of the consumer population is composed of salesmen, connectors and mavens. These are three roles that are key influencers in the purchasing activities of 74% of the population, said Nick Ingelbrecht, research director at Gartner. Salesmen and Connectors are the most effective social network influencers and the most important groups for targeted marketing based on social network analysis.