Today Facebook was revealed by Hitwise to be America’s most popular website. And considering how many brands have boosted sales with successful social media, you have to hope that social has gotten past the barrier of engaging frivolity for most brands.

But for those that still need convincing, a new study has found that consumers are twice as likely to purchase products from brands they follow on Facebook or Twitter.

How can your brand start getting in on those sales figures? Make sure you’re giving customers what they’re looking for in social.

The new study by Chadwick Martin Bailey and iModerate Research Technologies found that people are 67% more likely to purchase products from brands they
follow on Twitter and 51% more likely to do so if they follow a brand on Facebook.

The companies surveyed over 1500 consumers, and found that 60% of people on Facebook and 79% on Twitter are more likely to recommend a brand after becoming a fan or follower of it. But for brands trying to engage consumers, it’s important to see what value consumers are getting from these mediums.

The most popular reason people follow brands in social media is to receive discounts. But there were also many people who responded that they follow as a customer of the brand and to show their support of it. On Twitter, that reason was less popular. Only 2% of respondents followed a brand to show their support. More often, they are looking for discounts, new information and exclusive content.

That makes a lot of sense, as Facebook’s fan ability is more geared toward letting users express their appreciation for something. But if brands are offering services and exclusive benefits in these spaces, they’re going to get more engaged and interested consumers. Acquiring followers and fans is not as important as keeping them involved with the brand. And often, if engagement is lacking, consumers will unfollow the stream.

Josh Mendelsohn, a vice president at Chadwick Martin Bailey, says that “companies not actively engaging are missing a huge opportunity and are
saying something to consumers – intentionally or unintentionally- about
how willing they are to engage on consumers’ terms.”

But it’s just as important to say the right things in social media. If people think they’re getting something back from keeping tabs on their favorite brands, they’re more likely to keep following — and shopping — with them.

Image: Chadwick Martin Bailey

UPDATE: The headline on this post has been changed.