The 2011 Social Shopping Study from PowerReviews and the e-tailing Group indicates that shoppers spend an increasing amount of time researching products on social media.

It seems social media marketing can translate into sales. The 2011 Social Shopping Study from PowerReviews and the e-tailing Group indicates that shoppers spend an increasing amount of time researching products on social media.

The survey asked more than 1,000 consumers about their online shopping habits, and it found that 75 percent of respondents say that three-quarters of their online shopping time is spent conducting product and service research. One-third of consumers say social media is part of their product research mix.

The study concludes that social media (Facebook, in particular) plays a large role in shopping habits, even with room for growth. In addition to soliciting shopping advice on social media, half of respondents serve as brand advocates, saying they have Liked brands or products.

“This study proves just how much people value each other's opinions about products and services, and how much influence those opinions hold over how people shop and what they buy,” Pehr Luedtke, PowerReviews CEO, said.

These findings mirror an earlier study from Performics, which Brafton reported showed that social marketing influences shopping decisions. Performics found that half of consumers turn to social networks for research and half use social channels to recommend (or rant against) products and services. Moreover, 60 percent of consumers say they act on word-of-web referrals.

Even as social marketing's impact on shopping grows, PowerReviews and the e-tailing Group found that search is still the leading channel for product research. Since most consumers start their research with search engines, marketers can take this as an opportunity to control the message about their brands and services with high-quality content for SEO.

Katherine Griwert is Brafton's Marketing Director. She's practiced content marketing, SEO and social marketing for over five years, and her enthusiasm for new media has even deeper roots. Katherine holds a degree in American Studies from Boston College, and her writing is featured in a number of web publications.