At first glance, the results of a recent Harris Interactive poll seem like nothing new to those of us following trends in social commerce. The poll found that 45% of Americans who use social media say reviews about companies, brands and products from friends or people in their social networks influence them either a great deal or a fair amount. We already know that people trust their friends, social networks, and even strangers online for shopping recommendations.

What is far more interesting about Harris Interactive’s new research is that it doesn’t just explore what people are sharing online, it delves into why they’re sharing it.  According to the poll:

  • 38% of online adults say they aim to influence others when sharing opinions online
  • These numbers are higher for people 18 to 34, with 45% aiming to influence their networks
  • 46% feel they can be brutally honest on the internet.

These results mirror a survey we did in 2007. When asked why customers write reviews, 90% of respondents indicated that they write reviews to help others make buying decisions. It makes sense – reviewers want to help people like them find products they’ll love (or avoid products they won’t).

This motivation seems to play into eMarketer’s recent suggested correlation between Facebook use and online spending. According to this study:

  • The heaviest Facebook users also spend the most money online
  • The top 20% of Facebook users spent an average of $67 online in Q1 2010
  • Medium users spent an average of $61 online in Q1 2010
  • Light users spend an average of $50 online in Q1 2010.

The numbers keep coming in. Consumers are increasingly listening to others online to guide their purchase decisions. Businesses that embrace this word of mouth and facilitate customer conversations are coming out ahead. Social commerce is no longer just an idea—it is reality.

Reviewer Intent Survey Summary

Our joint study with Keller Fay Group uncovers the motivations and behavior of your most important customers – those who interact with your brand through UGC. It’s available for free download here.

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