A recent study from the University of Miami School of Business Administration, Empirica Research and StyleCaster Media Group found that social media icons influence buying decisions.
Researchers gave 200 respondents the option to buy items that were viewed as either socially acceptable (i.e. sportswear or fragrances) or more private in nature (i.e. spandex, acne medicine). What they found was products that displayed a social media icon next to them - indicating that users could "Like" or tweet about their purchase over social networks - altered their actual buying behaviors.
Specifically, users were 25 percent more likely to buy products that were more desirable and contained a social call to action. Conversely, if a non-desirable product featured a social button, respondents were 25 percent less likely to make the purchase.
Claudia Townsend, an assistant professor of marketing at the University of Miami School of Business Administration, attributes the results to the fact that users equate a social icon with being watched.
"Marketers should be aware that the placement of these symbols in their web design strategy could have a major impact on buying behavior," she added.
According to an Ad Age study of company homepages, just 44 percent of Fortune 50 companies had social media icons on their sites, while 60 percent hid their Twitter streams, Destination CRM reports.