VOLUME 54 – ‘Likes’ Translate to Purchases

The world of social media has brought about a myriad of opportunities to stay in touch, connect with old friends, make new friends, and yes, to share news about the products and merchants that make our lives better.

There is a lot of conversation out there about social media and how it’s the place to be.  For example, Facebook alone has more than 750 million active users, with at least 50% logging in on a daily basis. The average user has 130 friends, (https://newsroom.fb.com/#_=_). 

Because of this, social media is now seen as a ‘must-do’ for many companies and has become a topic of interest at Usability Sciences. Over the last few years we have seen many companies integrating these features into their websites, however, we have also seen many participants in our usability lab studies remain apathetic about social media’s inclusion on sites, other than those sites designed solely for social interaction (i.e. Twitter or Facebook). Based on this seemingly disparate information, we wanted to find out more.

Specifically, we wanted to know if ‘liking’ a product or merchant in social media circles influenced or directly increased sales. In October of 2011 we surveyed our participant database to ask about their behavior in regards to social media over the last 6 months.  The survey was created and tracked using our WebIQ technology. A link to the survey was then sent via email and posted on social media networks, such as Facebook and Twitter.

The following trends are based on feedback of approximately 700 respondents.

Reinforcing what many participants have voiced in our lab studies, 72% of the respondents indicated that the ability to ‘like’ a product or merchant on a website made no difference to them in the selection of websites from which to shop. However, further investigation of the survey results revealed that this metric alone doesn’t represent the entire story.

Although most participants said the presence of social media on websites made no difference to them, there was evidence that a friend ’liking’ a product or merchant had a positive influence on their friends. As represented by the graph below, we see the influence was so positive that 42% of all participants surveyed reported they had purchased a product based on the ‘like’ of a friend via social media. And, another 32% of all surveyed said that they had at least considered the purchase of a product based on the ‘like’ of a friend.


Additionally, this same group of respondents who either considered the purchase of a product or actually made the purchase reported that their friend’s ‘like’ had at least a ‘somewhat positive influence’ on their decision.

When we asked about their satisfaction with their purchase, the majority of those who purchased were at least somewhat satisfied with their purchase based on the ‘like’ of a friend. Additionally, 55% of all who purchased would be very likely to purchase again based on the ‘like’ of a friend while 38% were somewhat likely to purchase again (shown below).


They also indicated that they only needed one friend to ‘like’ a merchant or product to create this influence. This is positive news for those of you who have integrated social media into your websites. 

But how do all of these numbers fit together? If 42% of all surveyed are purchasing based on the ‘like’ of a friend and 72% of all respondents also indicated that the ability to ‘like’ a product or merchant on a website made no difference to them, what does this mean?

Based on these numbers and initial feedback on the topic in our usability lab studies one might question if a full suite of social media functionality (i.e., blogs, forums, chatting) is needed to increase sales. Perhaps a scaled down version allowing users to ‘like’ products is enough.

The answer to this will vary based on your specific products and the preferences of your target market. Because of this, research with your specific customers is important to figure out how and what social media features are appropriate for your website and which features will give you the biggest “bang for your buck.”

We’ll be sharing more social media trends from our survey in future articles, so stay tuned for more information to help unwind the possibilities of social media for your company.

Katie Mauck, Usability Analyst

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