Do social media icons inhibit online sales?

A study from the University of Miami reports that people are less likely to buy something potentially embarrassing if they see a button linking them to Facebook or Twitter.

“The mere presence of social media icons on a Web page where we shop appears to cause us to feel as if our purchases are being watched by our social network, and we adjust our buying decisions accordingly,” said Claudia Townsend, a co-author of the study and assistant professor of marketing.

When buying potentially embarrassing or simply private items, people were 25 percent more likely to buy when social media buttons were not present, the study found. If the item was what the study calls “desirable,” social sharing buttons increased the likelihood of buying the same measure.

So should e-commerce sites be more selective about when and where they place social sharing buttons on pages? A few experts weighed in.

Is it accurate?

Christina J. Inge, vice president of social media for the American Marketing Association in Boston, says the study matches her experience in that people want to share only the sort of information that will boost the image they’ve built on social media.

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