Facebook ShoppingThe average Facebook user spends more than eight hours a month on the social networking site, and many of us spend much, much more. So it's easy to figure that cutting back on Facebook could lead to a more productive life. But you might not expect it could also lead to more money in your wallet.

A new survey from Sociable Labs found that 75% of over 1,000 consumers clicked on product links shared or "liked" by friends on Facebook. More than half of those would then go on to make impulse buys, swayed by the deals and incentives. Experts are calling this process, in which consumers vet products via their social media connections, "social proofing."

A positive reaction to a product or a deal from a social media friend gives it legitimacy. Add a dash of peer pressure, a sense of immediacy, and the Internet's ease of transaction, and it's obvious why these purchases are happening more commonly. Facebook is affecting your spending habits more than you may even realize.

"Retailers have the ability to trigger this kind of sharing from their e-commerce sites, driving both significant referral visits and conversion uplift if they fully leverage it," said Darby Williams, vice president of marketing at Sociable Labs. "Now with high-velocity 'frictionless sharing', social sharing can become one of the top drivers of both for almost any online retailer."

The True Value of Facebook Likes -- 'Likeonomics'

It's hard to put a fixed value on what a "like" is worth, but advertisers clearly think it's pretty high.

After all, American consumers spend some 15% of their online time on Facebook, where they are a somewhat captive audience to its recommendations and status updates (which reach, on average, 12% of a person's Facebook friends, according to comScore), as well as other information broadcast on the NewsFeed.

Ford last year, for instance, tried to capitalize on the influence of Facebook by running a viral campaign for its Ford Focus headlined by "Doug," an orange spokespuppet, as The Wall Street Journal reported. Once Doug garnered 10,000 fans, Ford stopped actively promoting him via Facebook ads and allowed the narrative and promotion to work organically.

The campaign worked: Of those who "liked" Doug and became his fans on Facebook, 61% said they'd be more inclined to buy a Focus.

Rohit Bhargava, a senior vice president with WPP agency Ogilvy, coined the term "likeonomics" to describe the way social media approval within your network can influence your purchasing habits. There is something of a community connection, a buyers' club of sorts, that emerges from the web of social media.

According to comScore's Whitepaper The Power Of Like, the value of a "fan" comes in the form of increased loyalty and engagement, augmented purchasing behavior and the ability to influence others within the network.


A Facebook analysis of the top 100 brand pages indicates that every fan offers a brand exposure to an additional 34 Facebook friends of that fan. That multiplier effect has enormous potential.

For instance, Starbucks has 5,500 cafes in over 50 countries, and in May 2011, Starbucks' social media brand impressions reached more than 53 million people worldwide. One way to quantify the value of winning someone as a fan -- and thus the ROI for social media investment -- is the likelihood of that person to visit the brand's website. Starbucks fans were 418% more likely to visit Starbucks.com than the average person, and friends of fans were 230% more to visit the site.

To make the value even more clear, Starbucks and comScore analyzed in-store purchase patterns. Starbucks fans and friends of fans spent 8% more and made purchases 11% more frequently than the average Internet user who visited Starbucks.

Saver, Beware

As a counterpoint to the influence to buy that all those "likes" and "shares" exert, there's our long economic downturn, which has ushered in a trend of "thriftiness consuming," according to Lauren Weber, author of In Cheap We Trust. Yet that ostensible trend toward frugality may actually make more rampant spenders out of many consumers: The allure of deal sites, discounts and social media promotions can end up taking a bite out of your bank account.

"I'm a member of some of these services, but ultimately they tend to encourage more spending than saving," Weber said. "It's tough to resist a bargain, but you end up buying lots more massages and yoga classes and three-course meals than you would have without the coupons. It requires a lot of self-control to resist. "

Beyond that, all this social media-influenced purchasing leaves consumers vulnerable to privacy breaches. Of the 11 million odd people who suffered identity theft in 2011, people involved in social networks reported the most fraud, according to Javelin Research.

Though the deals you see while taking care of your Farmville livestock may seem promising, people looking to balance their budgets might do well to unplug more or go cold turkey and deactivate their Facebook accounts -- for the good of their trigger-happy purchasing fingers, as well as their personal finances.

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Mik's $ Toy

Myself, and many others, will be happy to see when the day comes that FB actually ADDS an "UNLIKE" button! I wouldn't dream of buying things from those ads on FB. They are as annoying as all those "Friends" I don't know but want to be my friend. Sorry Mr. FB owner, but I am almost to the point of closing down my FB acct. It just doesn't do it for me these days.

April 20 2012 at 5:02 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
mexicadream

Facebook is rediculous already. I personally find it disturbing how involved people get over that stupid site! its Facebook EVERYTHING! I hate it! I am proud to say i am NOT a facebook sheep! I plan on keeping it that way!

April 20 2012 at 2:23 PM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply
JC

Facebook is NOT draining anyone's wallet. Unwise impulse buying is doing that. Put the blame where it belongs: on the impulse buyer.

April 20 2012 at 2:17 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Judith

This does not surprise me in the least. The deals companies give for "liking" them on Facebook are probably very enticing. However, I am not a member of Facebook or any other social network for many reasons, none of which I will go into because this is not the time or the place. Anyway, I highly resent the fact that just because I'm not on Facebook I can't get the same deals; to me that's blatant discrimination. As a result, when I see a company advertising that if I "like" them on Facebook I will get a coupon or some other perk, I automatically boycott that company. Unfortunately, I'm starting to run out of companies because I still need to buy clothes, food, household goods, etc!

April 20 2012 at 1:31 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Harleygent

Caveat Emptor. For those that don't know, "buyer beware!" "The Richest person is not the one who has the most, but the one who needs the least!" Einstein. I don't need facebook, texting, tweeting, google and apple and I am Happy as a Clam. There is more to life than being attached to an electronic device. Get out and smell the real roses before they disappear. Every second of the day someone is trying to market something to you and they obviously are succeeding. P.T. Barnum was right. There are suckers born every day or per our media desires, every second. Today it is PT, Bill Gates, Tony Robbins, the late Steve Jobs, the google boys, M. Zuckerberg and so many more! I’ll stick with my MBA in Anti-marketing. My cell phone is just a phone and my computer is attached to a desk so neither can't be felt or heard when I am out riding the Harley. The panoramic views, the smells and the people that smile wave and talk with me is euphoric. That is real friending without the marketing hype!

April 20 2012 at 1:08 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
phpoling

Get a real life and around people. Facebook is bad news and who are really your friends on Facebook? None of them. Go out and see your friends in person

April 20 2012 at 11:31 AM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
mebecarl

Facebook is not draining MY wallet; SOME of us are smart...... we didn't JOIN! STUPID people join social networks.

April 19 2012 at 10:19 PM Report abuse +5 rate up rate down Reply
2 replies to mebecarl's comment
tony

Thou be correct.

April 20 2012 at 12:42 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to tony's comment
madmax821

ditto

April 20 2012 at 7:23 AM Report abuse rate up rate down
JC

I'm on Facebook and I am not stupid. I also don't "impulse buy." What's stupid is painting with too broad a brush.

April 20 2012 at 2:19 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
susanspcl

facebook is starting to make people mad like myspace did When you need to complain about something no way of gettin ahold of anyone.They keep blocking us from adding friends and family and thats bull.I thought facebook was to find people and if someone dont want to be friend do what we do SAY NO but no facebook fines you guilty before you can speak for yourself.I have only added family and now I am blocked for 2 weeks and my cous said he added no one now hes blocked THIS IS WRONG

April 19 2012 at 7:36 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to susanspcl's comment
Mik's $ Toy

so were all of hte members of my family who have email accts on my pc even though they don't live here. The email accts were for their benefit in order to access the internet. They all live 65+ miles from me and work and are busy raising families, etc., but should they have time to come and visit, I wanted my PC ready for them. Now FB has blocked all six accts and I won't argue or fight with them to get them back. We don't need them. We will use Skype and Google Chrome and other ways to email and keep in touch. Shame on a gazillionaire not being on top of what his employees are doing. I keep reminding myself, "The bigger they are, the harder they fall" and I am waiting for the day that FB falls.

April 20 2012 at 5:07 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
John

This just proves that most Americans are nothing but sheep. I never gave into per pressure as a kid, which caused me lots of pain from bullying. I certainly don't buy stuff because someone I know "likes" it. That's just stupid, which also proves how stupid many people are.

April 19 2012 at 6:34 PM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to John's comment
tony

True.

April 20 2012 at 12:43 AM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply
Pat

Try this instead of Facebook! Put the mouse in your hand down, push your chair away from the computer, get up, call a friend and actually spend some real time together doing something fun. It's so cool! And you'll protect your own privacy, you won't get additional spam in your email, you'll have more free times to do things that are actually fun, you won't be helping advertisers (for free) with their marketing objectives, you'll have fun getting out in the sunshine, and you'll feel really good about yourself. I'm not kidding....real friends that you meet in person beat the online "friends" every time. Sounds crazy, but it's true.

April 19 2012 at 3:30 PM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply