A new study issued by digital advertising technology company SocialVibe reveals that 70 percent of consumers actively engaged in social media have made a purchase as a result of being connected to a brand online — whether on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Pinterest or Google+.

The study also revealed that 61 percent of consumers first consider the brands they are connected with when shopping.

"Connections" in the study are defined as a consumer choosing to connect with a brand online through an action such as "liking" the brand on Facebook, or "following" it on Twitter, YouTube, Pinterest or Google+. For the study – conducted by the Digital Marketing Intelligence team at independent research firm GfK — 878 consumers opted in to take a survey across SocialVibe's network of partner sites.

Highlights from the study include:

1. Brand connections drive purchase behavior: The study revealed that 70 percent of consumers socially connected to a brand online have made a purchase as a direct result of that connection, demonstrating that social connections are becoming increasingly important for brand marketing efforts.

According to the study, 19 percent of consumers make purchases "often" and 29 percent make purchases "sometimes" because of brand connections. Similarly, many consumers are testing these waters, with 22 percent having made a purchase once or twice because of a brand connection.

2. Consumers connect to re-experience brands: Twenty percent of consumers connect with brands because they'd like to receive special offers, which suggests that they want to repurchase with an offer or discount. These connections are providing consumers with a direct outlet to deals from the brands they prefer.

"Connections are really a consumer's way of saying that they would like to spend more time with the brand," said John Capano, chief marketing officer of SocialVibe.

The study also found that 16 percent of consumers choose to connect with a brand because they want to stay up-to-date on the brand's news and information, further illustrating a consumer desire to deepen the brand experience and an important takeaway for brand loyalty operations.

3. Once connected, consumers regularly stay in touch: Results from the study also indicate that 23 percent of consumers check back weekly for updates on the brands they're connected to, with as many as 17 percent of consumers monitoring brands for updates on a daily basis.

"Driving lasting connections with a brand through social properties like their Facebook page or Twitter handle provides an avenue for ongoing conversation, and these longer-term relationships are much more valuable to brand loyalty than a one-time experience," said Jamie Auslander, director of research for SocialVibe.

4. Connections have to be carefully preserved: The study found that 37 percent of consumers who build these online social connections with brands also terminate them by un-liking, un-following, etc.

"Brands need to be mindful that connections can be both powerful and disruptive to the social experience," said Tiffany Leslie, director of marketing communications for SocialVibe. "They need to carefully determine the balance between driving loyalty and overwhelming their advocates."

One-third of consumers who disconnected from brands did so because they were receiving too many updates.

"With 22 percent of consumers indicating that they did not see the value in staying connected, brands have to reinforce why consumers should remain connected with them rather than simply repeating the 'Like us on Facebook' mantra," Leslie said.

Read more about social media efforts.

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