Selling Something? 78% of Shoppers Research and Buy Online

social media networksIf you’ve never bought anything online, you’re becoming a rarity. Online shopping is booming, with 78% of shoppers researching and buying products and services online.

The infographic at the end of this post gives more facts and figures for social media in 2013.

Are You Using the Right Social Networks?

Who is the audience for your business? With shoppers relying on the Internet for information about their purchases, you’ve got to connect with them on the social media networks where they spend their time.

Are you selling to men or women? Older or younger? How important is household income? Income isn’t as important if you’re selling soap – consumers need commodities no matter age, gender or income. Income matters a lot if you’re selling a top-of-the-line Mercedes or a professional service.

Who’s Searching Where?

From this infographic and other sources, we learn that the demographics of the major networks are quite different:

For those members who earn $100,00+ or more annually, Google+ and LinkedIn capture almost twice as many members as Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest who tally 17% in that income bracket, with Tumblr at 16%.

Tumblr’s members skew much younger – mainly in their 20s – while Twitter is  trending older with the biggest growth coming from adults aged 50+. Google+ members are younger, male and more tech savvy. LinkedIn members skew older and male.

Is this all confusing? Yes, because you have to take into account the sheer number of people on Facebook, for example, so that even if the percentages of high-income earners are fewer than other social networks Facebook still has a huge number of members who are making a lot of money. (For more information about social media network demographics visit this Pew Research study).

The bottom line is that you need to be in the right places where your targets are searching for advice and information as well as the services and products you sell. That’s why my primary network is LinkedIn.

Facebook is important but I sell time (doesn’t every one in a service business?) so every minute I spend on a social network is an investment that I can’t get back. So my advice is to choose your networks wisely to maximize your investment of time and money.

social media 2013
by Digital Insights

Leave a Reply


  1. You make a very good point. For a business it’s difficult to know where to invest time. Although the number of users is important, businesses also have to look at where people are looking for the type of services they are offering. Facebook may have the most users, but the buyers may be purchasing from users on LinkedIn. Looking at the sources of customers is just as important as how many people use those sources. Hope that makes sense.

    • Cheryl — Yes, it makes sense. You go where your customers are. Just because Facebook is the most popular site doesn’t mean that’s where your customers are or where they’re making their purchases.

  2. Do some of my shopping online. Above all when it comes to vitamins and other such products. You easily pay half the price compared to buying it in a shop. Even when it is sent from the United Kingdom to Sweden. Can’t help wondering how long it will take until we buy almost everything online?:-)

    Interesting to, again, note that members of Linkedin and Google Plus are in a higher income bracket. Can’t understand why Swedish companies keep on concentrating on Facebook.

    • Catarina — you have the ability to comparison shop more easily and quickly online. Shopping for a vacuum cleaner, the price varied from $99 to $275 for the same model number for a brand new one. You can guess which one I bought.

  3. I do a lot of my shopping online. This is extremely valuable information from both buyer and seller side Jeannette.

    Were there any income stats for Instagram?

    Yep; for me I prefer LinkedIn and Twitter and no surprise, that is where my tribe is most responsive. As you said, you go where your customers are. Facebook for me for the most part, except for family and friends (real friends) is just noise.

    Love the infographic. Thanks.

    • Pat — I just looked up Instagram stats in this recently released Pew Research report and users skew younger with 50% having incomes of $50,000+.

  4. Jeannette- I pretty much do all my shopping online. I don’t have time to go to the stores and I really don’t like the crowds and not my favorite thing to wait in lines.

    I think you need to pick which social media is going to work with instead of being “Jack of all trades, and master of none” For type of business Google + and Linkedin are ones that will corporations will connect with. I am not focusing my efforts as this moment on all that is out there. I don’t see today that corporations are going to Facebook if they are interested in purchasing promotional products. However, I will keep on eye out as that might change down the road.

    • Arleen — Interesting. My take on what you’re saying is that corporations who buy promotional products are the ones on Google+ and LinkedIn. Then those companies sell/give away those promotional products on Facebook. That may be totally off base.

      • Jeannette- Most of the companies that I deal don’t put giveaways on Facebook. They use the products to promote their brand name, by going to trade shows, corporate events, outings, etc. I don’t feel Facebook is where my niche is.

        • Arleen — you’ve had a great deal of experience — and success — so you no doubt know what sales funnels are best for your company.

  5. Great post and infographic, Jeannette! Like Arleen, I too do my shopping online… I pretty much buy everything online except shoes – those, i must try first LOL

    But your post got me thinking – do you think “research online” also includes social media? I always check reviews on Amazon, for example, regardless if I am buying the product off Amazon or another online venue. Or if it’s a vacation I am planning, i check booking and Tripadvisor reviews, etc. But I never really trust social media for reviews or recommendations of any kind.

    I do use a lot social media (it’s part of my work day, too!) – but I see its role more of a support or confirmation of a decision I have already made. If I have a question about a product or a service and ask it through social media, their response (or lack of such) would make me more likely to buy from them (or not). But I have usually pretty much made up my mind (still online) if I am going to buy this specific product or service, or not. I see social media as a communication channel for building relationships, not so much as a direct sales tool… your thoughts?

    • Diana — Yes, in my view research does include social media. Many consumer products companies advertise and/or discuss their products online. Even more important, in my view, are reader’s reviews of products, as you said. I read those very carefully. For example, I’ve bought quite a few items of apparel from Chico online. I’ve found the reviewers to be honest — and very accurate. Again, as you say, shoppers who have already made up their mind to buy a product go to the web for confirmation. Another point: Twitter has become the “go-to” source with its hashtags when customers are having a problem with a company’s products. So that’s another source of information for online shoppers.

  6. What great information on the demographics of the different sources. They totally resonate with me, from my own personal preferences to those tools I find most and least useful. Now I know it’s not just random bias. I can think of quite a few people I need to share this with. Thank you!

    • Debra — I’m glad you found it so helpful and that you will be sharing it with your friends. We each have our own preferences which is perfectly legitimate.

  7. Great infographic and your post coincides with yet another attempt to use social media more effectively for myself as an author. My husband read somewhere a few days ago that enough information is posted online everyday to equal the entire contents of The Library of Congress. So in light of those statistics, it’s hard to put on a happy face of making even the tiny of dents, and yet we keep on keeping on….

  8. It’s interesting to see the differences in social media and that we need to realise that they all have difference users/usage and purpose. As someone who just started to use Pinterest this is a topic I have noticed a lot recently. How people perceive each type of social media, the use they make of it and the hesitance to try something new or misunderstood.

    • Ashley — you make a good point about the reluctance to try something new. We can fall into the habit of always using the same networks. I’ll be interested to see how Pinterest works for you. I joined because I wanted to learn more about it, but I’ve since closed my account. It wasn’t my audience but it is certainly driving a lot traffic to websites where images are important.

  9. I have just started shopping online. I love the convenience, but the only problem I have with it is when some retailers make you pay to return something that doesn’t suit. You already pay a fair bit to have it delivered and then if it doesn’t fit, suit, whatever, you have to pay to return it.
    When it comes to social media, I am totally out of my league. I think I will study your infograph and see where I should spend most of my time 🙂

    • Becc — More and more retailers are not charging for shipping, so it pays to check around when you’re buying. You’ll do find with social media. Just dive it!