The formidable power of Facebook and the social revolution got a boost from a new online study that shows consumers find social sharing equivalent to Google search in helpfulness when looking for a product to buy. So says the Sociable Labs consumer research study Social Impact Study: How Consumers See It. 

Sociable Labs said it surveyed a group of 1088 online shoppers who also use Facebook, from mid-January to early February, with the majority of shoppers using and taking action, based on social sharing, and creating a kind of "social proofing" on e-Retail sites (via the "friend" option) that boosts shopper confidence and conversions (from shoppers to buyers.)  

Far-Reaching Implications

Beyond product discovery now on par with Google search, the top conclusions of the work have e-commerce implications far beyond the discovery process that make the cash register ring, ...and ring, ...and ring yet again, confronting the Google Search/Ad model of Internet revenue hegemony. 

In the study, Sociable Labs says social sharing has moved into "a mainstream activity" and notes that 62% of all online shoppers are reading product-related comments from friends on Facebook, with 75% of these shoppers clicking through to visit the retailer’s site (no Google search enters the process here). Further, social sharing drives conversions, with 53% of shoppers who click through to the retailer’s site buying the product that was shared.

All told, that translates to a whopping 25% Share-to-Purchase Funnel of All Shoppers, according to the group. Translation: Get this right, and one in four of online retail customers are coming from the social, not search engine, side of the web (see image.) 

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Share-to-Purchase Funnel

One other formidable boost in social sharing over web browsing -- once the purchase is made, a whopping 81% share their purchase with others, creating a "viral effect" throughout the social network. In fact, these Social Buyers share with others twice as often as social visitors (those who didn't buy) and this group posts to Facebook 2.6 times more often, according to the study. Social buyers.png

Social Proofing 

The study also indicates ways to boost commerce using a social strategy with several recommendations based on its findings. For example, social proofing is when a vendor shows friends' activities on a website. The study indicates this can significantly increases conversions (shoppers to buyers.)