Social media is one of most popular trends among people nowadays, especially college students. Taking this into consideration, many businesses opted for the social media with the purpose of reaching customers and increasing the number of sales. According to LaDuque (2010) many businesses use the social media not only for communication, but also to create sales leads, increase brand 2 loyalty and publicity.
This research paper is aimed towards analyzing the social media impact on the purchases college students make online.
According to the 2011 research, the most well-known social media website is Facebook. With over 800 million active users, this website is one of the places where businesses make the most sales when compared to other social media sites. More than 350 million people of the total number of users use their mobile phones to log in to their Facebook profiles, too.
The most common age group is 26-34 years old with 26.1% off all users, but people of all ages can be found on this network. This is the reason why the correlation between the sales of online products is strongly seen in the case of this social media. Furthermore, Facebook has reported that an average user of the social media can be interested in over 900 million online objects. According to their statistics, an average user will follow approximately 80 pages.
Companies use social media websites as one of their key methods of communication with customers. According to Hyllegard, Ogle, Yan and Reitz's research, 'between 66%-96% of consumer goods companies have adopted social media, including Facebook'.
We can all agree that purchasing on the social media is tricky and somewhat risky, so customers often rely on the online reviews. On pages such as Facebook, where customers can leave their comment after purchasing a service or a product, we have the ability of seeing whether that particular company is one we should make our purchase from.
There has been a lot of research done on social media's influence on people's purchasing decisions. Companies are often using the platforms in the goal of reaching customers. Furthermore, customers now start to rely more and more on the social media sites for obtaining information about the companies they want to purchase something from.
According to researchers, the biggest reason why college students use the social media is for communication with people and self-expression. This is what makes the social media one of the main channels for word-of-mouth recommendations, which in term influences students either positively or negatively. As Barnes (2008) has concluded, the majority of social media users check the products and the companies on the social media prior to making a purchase of any kind. He found out that approximately 70% of all respondents did use the social media networks to investigate the businesses that sold products they want to purchase. According to this study, those aged under 25 saw the reviews on the social media more positively than those who were older, which makes the college students group the biggest target of online product sales. These findings are also consistent with those of Hu, Liu and Zhang (2008) regarding electronic word-of-mouth influence on products' consumption.
All things considered, social media has an enormous impact on people's decisions of purchasing online products, especially when it comes to college students. Their constant exposure to the social media with the main idea of communication and self-expression makes them exposed to the selling strategies of businesses that opt to sell their products and services online.