A new sur­vey from Sumo Heavy Indus­tries has both good and bad news for social media. The sur­vey was con­duct­ed in May among more than 1,000 US adults.

The pur­pose of the sur­vey was to deter­mine “social media’s impact on con­sumer behav­ior and pur­chas­ing habits, as well as under­stand how emerg­ing social plat­forms and tech­nol­o­gy can serve e-com­merce brands and retail­ers.” It’s a fol­low up to an ear­li­er sur­vey con­duct­ed in 2016.

Bad news for ‘social com­merce.’ The sur­vey found 82 per­cent of respon­dents have not used a social buy but­ton, which is unchanged from the find­ings in 2016. How­ev­er, 18 per­cent have made direct pur­chas­es through a social site.

What has pre­vent­ed social buy­ing from grow­ing? Accord­ing to the sur­vey:

  • 71 per­cent of respon­dents were con­cerned about secu­ri­ty
  • 65 said pri­va­cy was an inhibitor
  • 64 said that they weren’t sure social com­merce was “legit­i­mate.”

Unfor­tu­nate­ly there’s no addi­tion­al con­text for the legit­i­ma­cy find­ing.

Only 20 per­cent of respon­dents were not aware that one could buy direct­ly through social sites. So the chal­lenge is not a lack of aware­ness; respon­dents are com­mu­ni­cat­ing a lack of trust in social media as a direct buy­ing chan­nel.

Social influ­ence on pur­chas­ing is sig­nif­i­cant. There are lots of stud­ies that indi­cate peo­ple con­sult social media sites as part of their pur­chase deci­sion-mak­ing. As a basic mat­ter, Sumo sur­vey found that 81 per­cent of respon­dents said they “use social media reg­u­lar­ly.”

In the aggre­gate, that num­ber was con­sis­tent with find­ings in 2016. How­ev­er there has been move­ment between the sites, with Face­book, Pin­ter­est and Twit­ter see­ing declines and Insta­gram and Snapchat expe­ri­enc­ing usage growth.

Just under half of the sur­vey respon­dents (48 per­cent) said that they’ve bought prod­ucts or ser­vices dis­cov­ered on social media. That num­ber is up from 42 per­cent in 2016. Beyond dis­cov­ery, 58 per­cent said that social media influ­ences their pur­chase deci­sions in some way (often this is through reviews or con­tent). That fig­ure was up 3 points from 2016.

The fol­low­ing was the order of influ­ence of the plat­forms:

  1. Face­book
  2. Insta­gram
  3. Pin­ter­est
  4. Twit­ter
  5. Snapchat.

In terms of growth, how­ev­er, Snapchat’s influ­ence grew the largest since 2016. That was fol­lowed by Insta­gram and Twit­ter. Face­book was flat.

What mat­ters to mar­keters. Most mar­keters already under­stand that social media play a mean­ing­ful role in dis­cov­ery and con­sumer pur­chase deci­sions. This data is more con­fir­ma­tion of that.

In terms of retail­ers try­ing to dri­ve pur­chas­es direct­ly on social media, the data argue that there’s a lot more that has to be done to inspire con­sumer con­fi­dence. Indeed, it may not be worth try­ing to push social buy­ing. Instead, at least in the short term, mar­keters should con­tin­ue to build aware­ness and con­tent around prod­ucts or ser­vices with the expec­ta­tion that buy­ing will hap­pen through anoth­er chan­nel or offline.