A study of online marketing habits by research company ForeSee Results revealed this week that only 3 per cent of the traffic that commercial websites receive comes from social media sources such as Twitter or Facebook.
The researchers warned that these findings showed that the vast majority of companies are failing to sufficiently exploit the social networking phenomenon.
After looking at the habits of over 10,000 British internet users, ForeSee found that the most common reason that people gave for visiting one website over another was the familiarity of the brand – some 46 per cent of respondents said that this was the main factor that would put them at ease when shopping online and reassure them that they were shopping safely.
Another 13 per cent of respondents said that they would choose a certain website because of the recommendation of a trusted search engine, such as Google or Yahoo. This indicates that the search engine giants still have a lot of influence over the online marketing process.
However, only 3 per cent of respondents said that an encounter on a social networking site had led them to a commercial website – strongly suggesting that there is still a vast untapped hinterland for internet marketing and online advertising campaigns to exploit.
Researchers were also quick to point out that none of the reasons for ultimately visiting a commercial site appeared to have any greater effect on whether the visitor made a purchase on that site. In one example, 74 per cent of customers bought a familiar-branded product and later recommended it to a friend. This was almost as high a proportion as those who were directed to a product via a friend on a social network.