29 October 2020

Why Shoppers Look to Social Media to Research Before Buying

What If You Had to Make Every Purchase Decision Alone?

The horror! Imagine you couldn’t send a changeroom selfie to your mum? Or you couldn’t ask your friend where they got their glasses from?

Would you still make as many purchases if you didn’t have referrals?

The answer is, probably not.

A recent Hubspot report showed that 71% of consumers are more likely to make purchases based on social media referrals.

According to the PwC Total Retail Survey, 45% of global respondents said that reading reviews, comments, and feedback influences their shopping behaviour.

So it’s clear reviews and comments on social media seriously influence buying choices. But why is that? Let’s take a look.

Herd Mentality

Although we’ve evolved a lot as a species, in some ways we’re still just mammals trying to survive.

Herd mentality is the tendency for our behaviours to conform to those of the group we belong to.

It probably has something to do with sticking together to survive. Say, if someone eats red berries and they don’t die, I can do it too and be okay.

Remember how parents would use the classic saying, “If your friend jumped off a cliff, would you do that too?” Expecting the answer to be, “No”.

When actually if enough people did jump off a cliff, we probably would too. That’s how you get peer pressured into bungee jumping.

Herd mentality is one contributing factor to why when we see others buying a product on social media, we want to buy it too.

Trust Factor

Trust is a big thing for brands. Without trust, you have no customers.

So how do you prove to customers that you’ll deliver on your promise before they even buy something?

The term ‘social proof’ is the idea that people will copy the actions of others (herd mentality), but the reason this works so well is based on trust.

We trust our peers more than we trust faceless companies. So when Jenny from Geelong gives a 5-star review, she adds authenticity to this big business.

This is also where influencer marketing can be so useful.

When a product is endorsed by someone the shopper respects and admires, the decision to buy feels less risky and easier to make.

Emotional Buying

This isn’t just chocolate ice cream after a breakup.

Almost all purchase decisions are actually emotional. Most things we buy are because we want them.

Even for a necessary item like a mattress, emotions come in to play. The thought of a secondhand mattress might gross you out, so you know you’ll buy it new. Perhaps you want to avoid the frustration of delivery, so you’ll opt for a mattress in a box. Or maybe a brand has a sale on and you’re excited by what you could do with the money you save.

See how already your emotions come into play, even for choosing a necessary item?

Product descriptions and features are obviously very important for comparison, but when items have similar benefits what will set them apart? Comments and reviews.

 “OMG THIS MATTRESS CHANGED MY LIFE! The best sleep I’ve had in 15 years, I’m a side sleeper and it’s great for my back, plus I didn’t wake up once from my partner who moves around in his sleep. I’m never going back, 5 stars!”

A comment like this stirs emotions. The customer is obviously excited, and that makes the reader excited too.

The more of an emotional bond the shopper has to the product, the more likely they are to add to cart.

Platforms, Promoting and Purchasing

Facebook, Twitter and Instagram seem to be the top three platforms for posting reviews and conducting research.


In a poll by Lucid Software, 51% of people turn to Facebook as their channel of choice for doing research on a product. Plus, Facebook accounts for 50% of total social referrals and a further 64% of overall social revenue, as shown by Business Insider.

These stats mean you should absolutely be using Facebook as a feedback tool for your customers if you want to increase revenue. We recommend encouraging comments and reviews and sharing user-generated content.


Instagram is a highly visual tool, which lends itself to seeing products visually in the world. Its engagement is actually higher than Facebook, so it’s especially useful for micro-influencers and targeting niche audiences.

Many of us visit a brand’s Instagram feed as part of the decision-making process, so make sure it’s looking sleek and up to date.


Twitter often has extremely honest reviews and engagement with the companies directly. According to the Influencer Marketing Hub, almost 50% of Twitter uses have made purchases as a direct result of a tweet from an influencer.

The key is to use your social media as an unobtrusive sales tool.

Let shoppers come to YOU.

Stay up to date with trends and find increasingly creative and subtle ways to advertise. Your social media presence is your brand’s personality, and people want to buy things from places they align with.

For more insight into how to get the most out of your social media, check back in regularly and follow us on Instagram. In the meantime, happy researching!

For branding by Bellman

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