Social Media’s Influence in Purchasing Decisions at USA                                   Chapter 1Introduction to the stu...
Social Media’s Influence in Purchasing Decisions at USAPeople obtain information, education, news and other data from elec...
Social Media’s Influence in Purchasing Decisions at USASocial networking websites function like an online community of int...
Social Media’s Influence in Purchasing Decisions at USAcustomers but also find out what they want to know about your busin...
Social Media’s Influence in Purchasing Decisions at USASocial Media MarketingSocial media marketing is a recent addition t...
Social Media’s Influence in Purchasing Decisions at USASocial Networking Sites:Social network sites can be defined as web-...
Social Media’s Influence in Purchasing Decisions at USASNSs, participants are not necessarily "networking" or looking to m...
Social Media’s Influence in Purchasing Decisions at USAMySpace users have hacked their profiles to hide the Friends displa...
Social Media’s Influence in Purchasing Decisions at USAA History of Social Network SitesThe Early YearsAccording to the de...
Social Media’s Influence in Purchasing Decisions at USAcommunity, including the entrepreneurs and investors behind many fu...
Social Media’s Influence in Purchasing Decisions at USAFigure 1: Timeline of the launch dates of many major SNSs and dates...
Social Media’s Influence in Purchasing Decisions at USAWhy Social Networking?Through social networking, people can use net...
Social Media’s Influence in Purchasing Decisions at USASecurityThe Internet can be a dangerous place to post personal info...
Social Media’s Influence in Purchasing Decisions at USAHOW DOES ‘SNS’ WORKWhile SNSs have implemented a wide variety of te...
Social Media’s Influence in Purchasing Decisions at USABeyond profiles, Friends, comments, and private messaging, SNSs var...
Social Media’s Influence in Purchasing Decisions at USAUtilization in BusinessThere are many ways that business’ can use s...
Social Media’s Influence in Purchasing Decisions at USASocial Media OptimizationSocial Media Optimization (or SMO or Socia...
Social Media’s Influence in Purchasing Decisions at USASocial media marketingSocial media marketing is a addition to perso...
Social Media’s Influence in Purchasing Decisions at USASoftware toolsSeveral companies are now providing specialized tools...
Social Media’s Influence in Purchasing Decisions at USAMajor Social Networking sites and description about themFacebookFac...
Social Media’s Influence in Purchasing Decisions at USASome studies have named Facebook as a source of problems in relatio...
Social Media’s Influence in Purchasing Decisions at USATwitterTwitter is a website, owned and operated by Twitter Inc., wh...
Social Media’s Influence in Purchasing Decisions at USAlinks to images and clips from a variety of supported websites incl...
Social Media’s Influence in Purchasing Decisions at USALinkedInLinkedIn is a business-related social networking site. Foun...
Social Media’s Influence in Purchasing Decisions at USAThe "gated-access approach" (where contact with any professional re...
Social Media’s Influence in Purchasing Decisions at USALinkedIn also supports the formation of interest groups, and as of ...
Social Media’s Influence in Purchasing Decisions at USAMySpaceMySpace is a social networking website. Its headquarters are...
Social Media’s Influence in Purchasing Decisions at USAmessage has been posted repeatedly in the Help page. No date for th...
Social Media’s Influence in Purchasing Decisions at USALaunched April 29, 2008, ksolo.myspace.com is a combination of MySp...
Social Media’s Influence in Purchasing Decisions at USAUnited States of AmericaThe United States of America (also referred...
Social Media’s Influence in Purchasing Decisions at USAUnited States as the sole superpower. The country accounts for 43% ...
Social Media’s Influence in Purchasing Decisions at USAEconomy of USAThe United States has a capitalist mixed economy, whi...
Social Media’s Influence in Purchasing Decisions at USADemographics of USAAs of June 23, 2011, the United States has a tot...
Social Media’s Influence in Purchasing Decisions at USAcountries, especially Germany, Russia, Italy, and Greece, or Asian ...
Social Media’s Influence in Purchasing Decisions at USAThe following table shows the populations of the top ten cities and...
Social Media’s Influence in Purchasing Decisions at USALeveraging Social Networking Sites to Generate BusinessIt wasn’t un...
Social Media’s Influence in Purchasing Decisions at USA•   Level of acceptability – Using the popularity of the websites t...
Social Media’s Influence in Purchasing Decisions at USABenefits of promoting your business and expertise within a networkY...
Social Media’s Influence in Purchasing Decisions at USA1.1 Background of the problem Social media use is increasing and wi...
Social Media’s Influence in Purchasing Decisions at USA1.2 Introduction to the Company iSource Solutions IT Enabled Pvt Lt...
Social Media’s Influence in Purchasing Decisions at USAHiring Virtual Assistants is global trend and it is saving thousand...
Social Media’s Influence in Purchasing Decisions at USA1.3 Brief introduction to the Research Methodology1.3.1 Objective o...
Social Media’s Influence in Purchasing Decisions at USAResearch: Descriptive researchData Source: Primary and SecondaryRes...
Social Media’s Influence in Purchasing Decisions at USA      1.3.4 Period of Study:   The period of study was from 20-4-20...
Social Media’s Influence in Purchasing Decisions at USAPercentage analysisPercentage refers to a special kind of ratio. Pe...
Social Media’s Influence in Purchasing Decisions at USA           selected).By degrees of freedom we mean the number of cl...
Social Media’s Influence in Purchasing Decisions at USAAt most, half the population have values less than the median, and,...
Social Media’s Influence in Purchasing Decisions at USACharts used in the projectColumn Chart:A column chart, also known a...
Social media's influence in purchase decisions
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  • Hello Anup - can you share this with me at murugan.sarangapani@gmail.com as I am working on a Ph.D in social media with Alagappa University. I would like to use it for literature review. Pls help. Thanks
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  • Hello Anup, Can you please share this research document via mail at niravmevcha@gmail.com as i am working on same research for my MBA final year project. I would like to use it in the literature review.
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  • dear Anup..can you please send me the research iam working on a similar one in egypt..thanks
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  • Hello Anup,
    I am working on a similar research for me university. Could you please send me this at isnogud07@gmail.com as I would like to use it in the literature review. Thanks in advance and many greetings from Germany!
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  • Hello Anup,
    I am working on a similar research focused in Bulgaria. Could you please send me this at mmarinov3@abv.bg as I would like to use it in the literature review. Thanks in advance and greetings from Bulgaria!
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Social media's influence in purchase decisions

  1. 1. Social Media’s Influence in Purchasing Decisions at USA Chapter 1Introduction to the studyThe social networking sites are gaining a lot of popularity these days with almost all ofthe educate people using one or the other such site. These have played a crucial role inbridging boundaries and crossing the seas and enabling them to communicate on acommon platform. It has become a popular and a potential mean for them to stayfriends with the existing ones and to grow up their social circle at least in terms ofacquaintances.The question regarding the safety, privacy and the legal issues have been cropping up allthis time. The objective of this research is to find out the impact of these networkingsites on the purchasing decision of people using them. It is a very subjective question toanswer and is very opinion based and the same is reflected in the research methodologyadopted.The report is initiated with the definition of the objective followed with the researchmethodology used along with the research design, sample size, methods used for thepurpose of conducting survey. It also incorporates the sampling frame and the datacollection procedure.Subsequent to this is the Introduction to the networking sites along with a briefdescription of the most popular sites. Then the issues of concern which have come upalong the way in all these years since these sites gained popularity are discussed. Thevarious issues and concerns of the respondents are also incorporated there. The nextpart of the research has the literature surveys which are the articles I took up from thepublished reports. Then I analyzed and interpreted the data at length. The last part dealswith the suggestions and recommendations that has come up with after carefullyanalyzing and incorporating the opinion of all concerned.Social media are media for social interaction, using highly accessible and scalablecommunication techniques. Social media is the use of web-based and mobiletechnologies to turn communication into interactive dialogue.Andreas Kaplan and Michael Heinlein define social media as "a group of Internet-basedapplications that build on the ideological and technological foundations of Web 2.0, whichallows the creation and exchange of user-generated content."Businesses may also referto social media as consumer-generated media (CGM). A common thread running throughall definitions of social media is a blending of technology and social interaction for theco-creation of value. Page 1
  2. 2. Social Media’s Influence in Purchasing Decisions at USAPeople obtain information, education, news and other data from electronic media andprint media. Social media are distinct from industrial or traditional media, such asnewspapers, television, and film. They are relatively inexpensive and accessible toenable anyone (even private individuals) to publish or access information, compared toindustrial media, which generally require significant resources to publish information.Social media are widely used in marketing of products and services. One of the keycomponents in successful social media marketing implementation is building "socialauthority". Social authority is developed when an individual or organization establishesthemselves as an "expert" in their given field or area, thereby becoming an influencer inthat field or area.It is through this process of "building social authority" that social media becomeseffective. That is why one of the foundational concepts in social media has become thatyou cannot completely control your message through social media but rather you cansimply begin to participate in the "conversation" in the hopes that you can become arelevant influence in that conversation.However, this conversation participation must be cleverly executed because while peopleare resistant to marketing in general, they are even more resistant to direct or overtmarketing through social media platforms. This may seem counter-intuitive but is themain reason building social authority with credibility is so important. Thus, using socialmedia as a form of marketing has taken on whole new challenges. Someone performinga "marketing" role within a company must honestly convince people of their genuineintentions, knowledge, and expertise in a specific area or industry through providingvaluable and accurate information on an ongoing basis without a marketing angle overtlyassociated. If this can be done, trust with, and of, the recipient of that information – andthat message itself – begins to develop naturally. This person or organization becomes athought leader and value provider - setting themselves up as a trusted "advisor" insteadof marketer.As a result of social media – and the direct or indirect influence of social mediamarketers – today, consumers are as likely – or more likely – to make buying decisionsbased on what they read and see in platforms we call "social" but only if presented bysomeone they have come to trust. Additionally, reports have shown organizations havebeen able to bring back dissatisfied customers and stakeholders through social mediachannels. This is why a purposeful and carefully designed social media strategy hasbecome an integral part of any complete and directed marketing plan but must also bedesigned using newer "authority building" techniques. Page 2
  3. 3. Social Media’s Influence in Purchasing Decisions at USASocial networking websites function like an online community of internet users.Depending on the website in question, many of these online community members sharecommon interests in hobbies, religion, or politics. Once you are granted access to asocial networking website you can begin to socialize. This socialization may includereading the profile pages of other members and possibly even contacting them.The friends that you can make are just one of the many benefits to social networkingonline. Another one of those benefits includes diversity because the internet givesindividuals from all around the world access to social networking sites. This means thatalthough you are in the United States, you could develop an online friendship withsomeone in Denmark or India. Not only will you make new friends, but you just mightlearn a thing or two about new cultures or new languages and learning is always a goodthing.Since their introduction, social network sites (SNSs) such as MySpace, Facebook,Cyworld, and Bebo have attracted millions of users, many of whom have integratedthese sites into their daily practices. As of this writing, there are hundreds of SNSs, withvarious technological affordances, supporting a wide range of interests and practices.While their key technological features are fairly consistent, the cultures that emergearound SNSs are varied. Most sites support the maintenance of pre-existing socialnetworks, but others help strangers connect based on shared interests, political views,or activities. Some sites cater to diverse audiences, while others attract people based oncommon language or shared racial, sexual, religious, or nationality-based identities.Sites also vary in the extent to which they incorporate new information andcommunication tools, such as mobile connectivity, blogging, and photo/video-sharing.Scholars from disparate fields have examined SNSs in order to understand the practices,implications, culture, and meaning of the sites, as well as users engagement with them.This special theme section of the Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication bringstogether a unique collection of articles that analyze a wide spectrum of social networksites using various methodological techniques, theoretical traditions, and analyticapproaches. By collecting these articles in this issue, our goal is to showcase some of theinterdisciplinary scholarship around these sites.One of the most important parts of social media marketing research is that it opens upthe door to communication with your current and prospective customers. This gives youan unequalled opportunity to form a relationship with them, understand them, andensure that they understand you. Social media marketing research means that you canhave a conversation with precisely the individuals who are buying your products orservices, or who are currently looking for what you have to offer. With thiscommunication, you can answer questions and, in doing so, not only educate your Page 3
  4. 4. Social Media’s Influence in Purchasing Decisions at USAcustomers but also find out what they want to know about your business. This helps youto improve your marketing so that it provides improved information within its message. Page 4
  5. 5. Social Media’s Influence in Purchasing Decisions at USASocial Media MarketingSocial media marketing is a recent addition to organizations’ integrated marketingcommunications plans. Integrated marketing communications is a practice organizationsfollow to connect with their target markets. Integrated marketing communicationscoordinates promotional elements: advertising, personal selling, public relations,publicity, direct marketing and sales promotion. Increasingly, viral marketing campaignsare also grouped into integrated marketing communications. In the traditional marketingcommunications model, the content, frequency, timing, and medium of communicationsby the organization is in collaboration with an external agent, i.e. advertising agencies,marketing research firms and public relations firms. However, the growth of social mediahas impacted the way organizations communicate. With the emergence of Web 2.0, theinternet provides a set of tools that allow people to build social and businessconnections, share information and collaborate on projects online.Social media marketing programs usually centre on efforts to create content that attractsattention and encourages readers to share it with their social networks. A corporatemessage spreads from user to user and presumably resonates because it is coming froma trusted, third-party source, as opposed to the brand or company itself.Social media has become a platform that is easily accessible to anyone with internetaccess. Increased communication for organizations fosters brand awareness and often,improved customer service. Additionally, social media serves as a relatively inexpensiveplatform for organizations to implement marketing campaigns. With emergence ofchannels like Twitter, the barrier to entry in social media is greatly reduced.Social media marketing is known as SMO or Social Media Optimization and benefitsorganizations and individuals by providing an additional channel for customer support, ameans to gain customer and competitive insight, recruitment and retention of newcustomers/business partners, and a method of managing reputation online. Key factorsthat ensure its success are its relevance to the customer, the value it provides them withand the strength of the foundation on which it is built. A strong foundation serves as aplatform in which the organization can centralize its information and direct customers onits recent developments via other social media channels, such as article and pressrelease publications. Oftentimes, corporate social media platforms are used to offerunique incentives to customers who are willing to engage (i.e. "like" a Facebook Page). Page 5
  6. 6. Social Media’s Influence in Purchasing Decisions at USASocial Networking Sites:Social network sites can be defined as web-based services that allow individuals to:1. Construct a public or semi-public profile within a bounded system,2. Articulate a list of other users with whom they share a connection, and3. View and traverse their list of connections and those made by others within thesystem.The nature and nomenclature of these connections may vary from site to site. While weuse the term "social network site" to describe this phenomenon, the term "socialnetworking sites" also appears in public discourse, and the two terms are often usedinterchangeably. "Networking" emphasizes relationship initiation, often betweenstrangers. While networking is possible on these sites, it is not the primary practice onmany of them, nor is it what differentiates them from other forms of computer-mediatedcommunication (CMC).What makes social network sites unique is not that they allow individuals to meetstrangers, but rather that they enable users to articulate and make visible their socialnetworks. This can result in connections between individuals that would not otherwise bemade, but that is often not the goal, and these meetings are frequently between "latentties" who share some offline connection. On many of the large SNSs, participants are notnecessarily "networking" or looking to meet new people; instead, they are primarilycommunicating with people who are already a part of their extended social network. Toemphasize this articulated social network as a critical organizing feature of these sites, Ilabel them "social network sites (SNS)."While we use the term "social network site" to describe this phenomenon, the term"social networking sites" also appears in public discourse, and the two terms are oftenused interchangeably. We chose not to employ the term "networking" for two reasons:emphasis and scope. "Networking" emphasizes relationship initiation, often betweenstrangers. While networking is possible on these sites, it is not the primary practice onmany of them, nor is it what differentiates them from other forms of computer-mediatedcommunication (CMC).What makes social network sites unique is not that they allow individuals to meetstrangers, but rather that they enable users to articulate and make visible their socialnetworks. This can result in connections between individuals that would not otherwise bemade, but that is often not the goal, and these meetings are frequently between "latentties" (Haythornthwaite, 2005) who share some offline connection. On many of the large Page 6
  7. 7. Social Media’s Influence in Purchasing Decisions at USASNSs, participants are not necessarily "networking" or looking to meet new people;instead, they are primarily communicating with people who are already a part of theirextended social network. To emphasize this articulated social network as a criticalorganizing feature of these sites, we label them "social network sites."While SNSs have implemented a wide variety of technical features, their backboneconsists of visible profiles that display an articulated list of Friends 1 who are also users ofthe system. Profiles are unique pages where one can "type oneself into being" (Sundén,2003, p. 3). After joining an SNS, an individual is asked to fill out forms containing aseries of questions. The profile is generated using the answers to these questions, whichtypically include descriptors such as age, location, interests, and an "about me" section.Most sites also encourage users to upload a profile photo. Some sites allow users toenhance their profiles by adding multimedia content or modifying their profiles look andfeel. Others, such as Facebook, allow users to add modules ("Applications") that enhancetheir profile.The visibility of a profile varies by site and according to user discretion. By default,profiles on Friendster and Tribe.net are crawled by search engines, making them visibleto anyone, regardless of whether or not the viewer has an account. Alternatively,LinkedIn controls what a viewer may see based on whether she or he has a paidaccount. Sites like MySpace allow users to choose whether they want their profile to bepublic or "Friends only." Facebook takes a different approach—by default, users who arepart of the same "network" can view each others profiles, unless a profile owner hasdecided to deny permission to those in their network. Structural variations aroundvisibility and access are one of the primary ways that SNSs differentiate themselves fromeach other.After joining a social network site, users are prompted to identify others in the systemwith whom they have a relationship. The label for these relationships differs dependingon the site—popular terms include "Friends," "Contacts," and "Fans." Most SNSs requirebi-directional confirmation for Friendship, but some do not. These one-directional ties aresometimes labeled as "Fans" or "Followers," but many sites call these Friends as well.The term "Friends" can be misleading, because the connection does not necessarilymean friendship in the everyday vernacular sense, and the reasons people connect arevaried (boyd, 2006a).The public display of connections is a crucial component of SNSs. The Friends listcontains links to each Friends profile, enabling viewers to traverse the network graph byclicking through the Friends lists. On most sites, the list of Friends is visible to anyonewho is permitted to view the profile, although there are exceptions. For instance, some Page 7
  8. 8. Social Media’s Influence in Purchasing Decisions at USAMySpace users have hacked their profiles to hide the Friends display, and LinkedInallows users to opt out of displaying their network.Most SNSs also provide a mechanism for users to leave messages on their Friendsprofiles. This feature typically involves leaving "comments," although sites employvarious labels for this feature. In addition, SNSs often have a private messaging featuresimilar to webmail. While both private messages and comments are popular on most ofthe major SNSs, they are not universally available.Not all social network sites began as such. QQ started as a Chinese instant messagingservice, LunarStorm as a community site, Cyworld as a Korean discussion forum tool,and Skyrock (formerly Skyblog) was a French blogging service before adding SNSfeatures. Classmates.com, a directory of school affiliates launched in 1995, begansupporting articulated lists of Friends after SNSs became popular. AsianAvenue,MiGente, and BlackPlanet were early popular ethnic community sites with limited Friendsfunctionality before re-launching in 2005-2006 with SNS features and structure.Beyond profiles, Friends, comments, and private messaging, SNSs vary greatly in theirfeatures and user base. Some have photo-sharing or video-sharing capabilities; othershave built-in blogging and instant messaging technology. There are mobile-specific SNSs(e.g., Dodgeball), but some web-based SNSs also support limited mobile interactions(e.g., Facebook, MySpace, and Cyworld). Many SNSs target people from specificgeographical regions or linguistic groups, although this does not always determine thesites constituency. Orkut, for example, was launched in the United States with anEnglish-only interface, but Portuguese-speaking Brazilians quickly became the dominantuser group (Kopytoff, 2004). Some sites are designed with specific ethnic, religious,sexual orientation, political, or other identity-driven categories in mind. There are evenSNSs for dogs (Dogster) and cats (Catster), although their owners must manage theirprofiles.While SNSs are often designed to be widely accessible, many attract homogeneouspopulations initially, so it is not uncommon to find groups using sites to segregatethemselves by nationality, age, educational level, or other factors that typically segmentsociety (Hargittai, this issue), even if that was not the intention of the designers. Page 8
  9. 9. Social Media’s Influence in Purchasing Decisions at USAA History of Social Network SitesThe Early YearsAccording to the definition above, the first recognizable social network site launched in1997. SixDegrees.com allowed users to create profiles, list their Friends and, beginningin 1998, surf the Friends lists. Each of these features existed in some form beforeSixDegrees, of course. Profiles existed on most major dating sites and many communitysites. AIM and ICQ buddy lists supported lists of Friends, although those Friends werenot visible to others. Classmates.com allowed people to affiliate with their high school orcollege and surf the network for others who were also affiliated, but users could notcreate profiles or list Friends until years later. SixDegrees was the first to combine thesefeatures.SixDegrees promoted itself as a tool to help people connect with and send messages toothers. While SixDegrees attracted millions of users, it failed to become a sustainablebusiness and, in 2000, the service closed. Looking back, its founder believes thatSixDegrees was simply ahead of its time (A. Weinreich, personal communication, July11, 2007). While people were already flocking to the Internet, most did not haveextended networks of friends who were online. Early adopters complained that there waslittle to do after accepting Friend requests, and most users were not interested inmeeting strangers.From 1997 to 2001, a number of community tools began supporting variouscombinations of profiles and publicly articulated Friends. AsianAvenue, BlackPlanet, andMiGente allowed users to create personal, professional, and dating profiles—users couldidentify Friends on their personal profiles without seeking approval for those connections(O. Wasow, personal communication, August 16, 2007). Likewise, shortly after its launchin 1999, LiveJournal listed one-directional connections on user pages. LiveJournalscreator suspects that he fashioned these Friends after instant messaging buddy lists (B.Fitzpatrick, personal communication, June 15, 2007)—on LiveJournal, people markothers as Friends to follow their journals and manage privacy settings. The Koreanvirtual worlds site Cyworld was started in 1999 and added SNS features in 2001,independent of these other sites (see Kim & Yun, this issue). Likewise, when the Swedishweb community LunarStorm refashioned itself as an SNS in 2000, it contained Friendslists, guestbooks, and diary pages (D. Skog, personal communication, September 24,2007).The next wave of SNSs began when Ryze.com was launched in 2001 to help peopleleverage their business networks. Ryzes founder reports that he first introduced the siteto his friends—primarily members of the San Francisco business and technology Page 9
  10. 10. Social Media’s Influence in Purchasing Decisions at USAcommunity, including the entrepreneurs and investors behind many future SNSs (A.Scott, personal communication, June 14, 2007). In particular, the people behind Ryze,Tribe.net, LinkedIn, and Friendster were tightly entwined personally and professionally.They believed that they could support each other without competing (Festa, 2003). Inthe end, Ryze never acquired mass popularity, Tribe.net grew to attract a passionateniche user base, LinkedIn became a powerful business service, and Friendster becamethe most significant, if only as "one of the biggest disappointments in Internet history"(Chafkin, 2007, p. 1). Page 10
  11. 11. Social Media’s Influence in Purchasing Decisions at USAFigure 1: Timeline of the launch dates of many major SNSs and dates when communitysites re-launched with SNS featuresLike any brief history of a major phenomenon, ours is necessarily incomplete. In thefollowing section we discuss Friendster, MySpace, and Facebook, three key SNSs thatshaped the business, cultural, and research landscape. Page 11
  12. 12. Social Media’s Influence in Purchasing Decisions at USAWhy Social Networking?Through social networking, people can use networks of online friends and groupmemberships to keep in touch with current friends, reconnect with old friends or createreal–life friendships through similar interests or groups. Besides establishing importantsocial relationships, social networking members can share their interests with other like–minded members by joining groups and forums. Some networking can also helpmembers find a job or establish business contacts.Most social networking websites also offer additional features. In addition to blogs andforums, members can express themselves by designing their profile page to reflect theirpersonality. The most popular extra features include music and video sections. Memberscan read bios of their favourite music artists from the artists profile page as well aslisten to their favourite songs and watch music videos. The video section can includeeverything from member–generated videos from hundreds of subjects to TV clips andmovie trailers.What to Look for in Social Networking?The phenomenon of online social networking—made extremely popular by MySpace.com,as evolved to include more than the teenage stereotype looking to expand his/hernetwork of online friends. People of all ages and backgrounds have discovered that theycan enrich their lives through the contacts they make on a social networking website.Below are the criteria TopTenREVIEWS used to evaluate Social Networking websites.ProfilesThe heart and soul of social networking sites are user’s personal profiles. It’s like theirown Internet sanctuary, a place where they can express their thoughts and feelings,post photographs and show off their network of friends. The most popular social networkwebsites put a strong emphasis on the user’s profile, making it easy to use yet stillreflective of the user’s personality. Page 12
  13. 13. Social Media’s Influence in Purchasing Decisions at USASecurityThe Internet can be a dangerous place to post personal information. All social networksshould provide the ability to set profiles to private in some way or another. Additionallythey should have the ability to report and block users.Networking FeaturesA good social network goes above and beyond just allowing users to post profiles andupdate pictures. Additional features should include music sections, video uploads, groupsand more.SearchThe object of a social network is to find friends and expand relationships. Top socialnetworking websites allows members to search for other members in a safe and easy touse environment. Common search functions include search by name, city, school andemail address.Help/SupportMost social network sites are self-explanatory. However, in the off-chance a user needshelp there needs to be some way to contact the webmaster or answers in an FAQssection.Legitimate Friend FocusThe growing trend for social networks is to communicate and keep in touch with peopleyou already know. No one wants to be inundated with unsolicited spam friend requests.The best social network sites keep profiles and search options private enough that theonly people that can find you are the ones actually looking for users in their own schoolor neighbourhood networks. Even with a completely public profile, users shouldn’t bebothered with more than a couple of unsolicited comments or messages. Page 13
  14. 14. Social Media’s Influence in Purchasing Decisions at USAHOW DOES ‘SNS’ WORKWhile SNSs have implemented a wide variety of technical features, their backboneconsists of visible profiles that display an articulated list of Friends who are also users ofthe system. Profiles are unique pages where one can type oneself into being. Afterjoining an SNS, an individual is asked to fill out forms containing a series of questions.The profile is generated using the answers to these questions, which typically includedescriptors such as age, location, interests, and an "about me" section. Most sites alsoencourage users to upload a profile photo. Some sites allow users to enhance theirprofiles by adding multimedia content or modifying their profiles look and feel. Others,such as Face book, allow users to add modules ("Applications") that enhance theirprofile.The visibility of a profile varies by site and according to user discretion. By default,profiles on Orkut or hi5.com are crawled by search engines, making them visible toanyone, regardless of whether or not the viewer has an account. Alternatively, sites likeMySpace allow users to choose whether they want their profile to be public or "Friendsonly." Face book takes a different approach—by default, users who are part of the same"network" can view each others profiles, unless a profile owner has decided to denypermission to those in their network. Structural variations around visibility and accessare one of the primary ways that SNSs differentiate themselves from each other.After joining a social network site, users are prompted to identify others in the systemwith whom they have a relationship. The label for these relationships differs dependingon the site popular terms include "Friends," "Contacts," and "Fans." Most SNSs requirebi-directional confirmation for Friendship, but some do not. These one-directional ties aresometimes labelled as "Fans" or "Followers," but many sites call these Friends as well.The term "Friends" can be misleading, because the connection does not necessarilymean friendship in the everyday vernacular sense, and the reasons people connect arevaried.The public display of connections is a crucial component of SNSs. The Friends listcontains links to each Friends profile, enabling viewers to traverse the network graph byclicking through the Friends lists. On most sites, the list of Friends is visible to anyonewho is permitted to view the profile, although there are exceptions.Most SNSs also provide a mechanism for users to leave messages on their Friendsprofiles. This feature typically involves leaving "comments," although sites employvarious labels for this feature. In addition, SNSs often have a private messaging featuresimilar to webmail. While both private messages and comments are popular on most ofthe major SNSs, they are not universally available. Page 14
  15. 15. Social Media’s Influence in Purchasing Decisions at USABeyond profiles, Friends, comments, and private messaging, SNSs vary greatly in theirfeatures and user base. Some have photo-sharing or video-sharing capabilities; othershave built-in blogging and instant messaging technology. There are mobile-specific SNSs(e.g., Dodgeball), but some web-based SNSs also support limited mobile interactions(e.g., Face book, MySpace, and Orkut). Many SNSs target people from specificgeographical regions or linguistic groups, although this does not always determine thesites constituency. Orkut, for example, was launched in the United States with anEnglish-only interface, but Portuguese-speaking Brazilians quickly became the dominantuser group. Some sites are designed with specific ethnic, religious, sexual orientation,political, or other identity-driven categories in mind. There are even SNSs for dogs(Dogster) and cats (Catster), although their owners must manage their profiles.While SNSs are often designed to be widely accessible, many attract homogeneouspopulations initially, so it is not uncommon to find groups using sites to segregatethemselves by nationality, age, educational level, or other factors that typically segmentsociety, even if that was not the intention of the designers. Page 15
  16. 16. Social Media’s Influence in Purchasing Decisions at USAUtilization in BusinessThere are many ways that business’ can use social networking web sites to theiradvantage but we are going to focus on three. The first aspect of a business that coulduse a social networking website for would be the hiring of employees. Such sites asMonster.com actually help many people searching for jobs and many companies lookingfor employees to find each other. It’s as simple as creating your own resume and puttingit out there. Monster.com then takes your resume and compares it to the needs andwants that companies have posted on the web site and connects the company withpeople who meet or exceed their posted standards. This a lot faster and involves a morebroad spectrum of resources for which a company can use to find the perfect employee.Another aspect of business affected by social networking websites is marketing. With themillions of people that use social networking web sites, what better way to market yourproduct then by buying space on those web sites? Whether it’s through banners or linksmillions of people will view your ads should they be placed on a social networkingwebsite. An example is that of 1up.com. Through its great reputation to gamers manygaming companies are willing to spend thousands of dollars for advertising space sincethey know that gamers who view the web site will most likely learn about their product.Not only is online advertising more effective than commercial advertising such as TV adsand magazines, it’s also more cost effective and reaches far more people than otherforms of advertising. An example of the effectiveness of internet advertising isYouTube.com in which experts have estimated that “Given its traffic levels, videostreams and page views, some have calculated that YouTubes potential revenues couldbe in the millions per month.” (YouTube, 2007)A third aspect of business that is affected by social networking websites is that of fairpricing. With so many businesses’ out there creating virtually the same product it’s easyfor one to get lost in the broad spectrum of products. With social networking websitespeople can get advice from experts, gain knowledge of product through others who haveused it, and get reviews on nearly anything that is mass produced today. This in turn isalso great for businesses. With all this information out there concerning products it’seasy for a company to look through it and see what customers want and for how much.This in turn leads to better products being made to suit the customers’ needs and wants. Page 16
  17. 17. Social Media’s Influence in Purchasing Decisions at USASocial Media OptimizationSocial Media Optimization (or SMO or Social SEO) is the methodisation of social mediaactivity with the intent of attracting unique visitors to website content. SMO is one ofmany online methods of website optimization. One of the many other methods is searchengine optimization or SEO.There are two categories of SMO/Social SEO methods:(a) Social media features added to the content itself, including: RSS feeds, social newsand sharing buttons, user rating and polling tools, and incorporating third-partycommunity functionalities like images and videos(b) Promotional activities in social media aside from the content being promoted,including: blogging, commenting on other blogs, participating in discussion groups, andposting status updates on social networking profiles.Social Media Optimization is related to search engine marketing, but differs in severalways, primarily the focus on driving traffic from sources other than search engines,though improved search ranking is also a benefit of successful Social Media Optimization.Social Media Optimization (SMO) is not limited to marketing and brand building.Increasingly smart businesses are integrating social media participation as part of theirknowledge management strategy (i.e. product/service development, recruiting,employee engagement and turnover, brand building, customer satisfaction and relations,business development and more). Additionally, Social Media Optimization is often attimes implemented to foster a community of the associated site, allowing for a healthybusiness to consumer relationship. Page 17
  18. 18. Social Media’s Influence in Purchasing Decisions at USASocial media marketingSocial media marketing is a addition to personal, small business, corporate, and non-profit organizations’ integrated marketing communications plans. Integrated marketingcommunications is a multifaceted, orchestrated marketing and advertising practiceorganizations follow to connect with their target markets. Integrated marketingcommunications coordinates promotional elements: advertising, personal selling, publicrelations, publicity, direct marketing and sales promotion. Increasingly, viral marketingcampaigns are also grouped into integrated marketing communications. In thetraditional marketing communications model, the content, frequency, timing, andmedium of communications by the organization is in collaboration with an externalagent, i.e. advertising agencies, marketing research firms and public relations firms.However, the growth of social media has impacted the way organizations communicate.With the emergence of Web 2.0, the internet provides a set of tools that allow people tobuild social and business connections, share information and collaborate on projectsonline.Social media marketing programs usually centre on efforts to create content that attractsattention and encourages readers to share it with their social networks. A corporatemessage spreads from user to user and presumably resonates because it is coming froma trusted, third-party source, as opposed to the brand or company itself.Social media has become a platform that is easily accessible to anyone with internetaccess. Increased communication for organizations fosters brand awareness and often,improved customer service. Additionally, social media serves as a relatively inexpensiveplatform for organizations to implement marketing campaigns. With emergence ofchannels like Twitter, the barrier to entry in social media is greatly reduced. Page 18
  19. 19. Social Media’s Influence in Purchasing Decisions at USASoftware toolsSeveral companies are now providing specialized tools and platform for social mediamarketing. Tools can be used for a variety of different things such as: • Social Media Monitoring • Social Aggregation • Social Book Marking and Tagging • Social Analytics and Reporting • Automation • Social Media • Blog Marketing • Validation Page 19
  20. 20. Social Media’s Influence in Purchasing Decisions at USAMajor Social Networking sites and description about themFacebookFacebook is a social networking service and website launched in February 2004,operated and privately owned by Facebook, Inc. As of January 2011, Facebook has morethan 600 million active users. Users may create a personal profile, add other users asfriends, and exchange messages, including automatic notifications when they updatetheir profile. Facebook users must register before using the site. Additionally, users mayjoin common-interest user groups, organized by workplace, school or college, or othercharacteristics. The name of the service stems from the colloquial name for the bookgiven to students at the start of the academic year by university administrations in theUnited States to help students get to know each other better. Facebook allows any userswho declare themselves to be at least 13 years old to become registered users of thewebsite.Facebook was founded by Mark Zuckerberg with his college roommates and fellowcomputer science students Eduardo Saverin, Dustin Moskovitz and Chris Hughes. Thewebsites membership was initially limited by the founders to Harvard students, but wasexpanded to other colleges in the Boston area, the Ivy League, and Stanford University.It gradually added support for students at various other universities before opening tohigh school students, and, finally, to anyone aged 13 and over, but based onConsumersReports.org on May 2011, there are 7.5 million children under 13 withaccounts, violating the sites terms.A January 2009 Compete.com study ranked Facebook as the most used socialnetworking service by worldwide monthly active users, followed by MySpace.Entertainment Weekly included the site on its end-of-the-decade "best-of" list, saying,"How on earth did we stalk our exes, remember our co-workers birthdays, bug ourfriends, and play a rousing game of Scrabulous before Facebook?" Quantcast estimatesFacebook has 138.9 million monthly unique U.S. visitors in May 2011. According toSocial Media Today, in April 2010 an estimated 41.6% of the U.S. population had aFacebook account. Nevertheless, facebooks market growth started to stall in someregions, with the site losing 7 million active users in the United States and Canada inMay 2011.Facebook has affected the social life and activity of people in various ways. It can reunitelost family members and friends. One such reunion was between John Watson and thedaughter he had been searching for 20 years. They met after Watson found herFacebook profile. Another father-daughter reunion was between Tony McNaughton andFrances Simpson, who had not seen each other for nearly 48 years. Page 20
  21. 21. Social Media’s Influence in Purchasing Decisions at USASome studies have named Facebook as a source of problems in relationships. Severalnews stories have suggested that using Facebook causes divorce and infidelity, but theclaims have been questioned and refuted by other commentators. Page 21
  22. 22. Social Media’s Influence in Purchasing Decisions at USATwitterTwitter is a website, owned and operated by Twitter Inc., which offers a socialnetworking and micro blogging service, enabling its users to send and read messagescalled tweets. Tweets are text-based posts of up to 140 characters displayed on theusers profile page.The website is based in San Francisco. Twitter also has servers and offices in SanAntonio and Boston. Twitter, Inc. was originally incorporated in California, but as of 2011is incorporated in Delaware.Twitter was produced in March 2006 by Jack Dorsey and launched in July. Since thenTwitter has gained popularity worldwide and is estimated to have 200 million users,generating 190 million tweets a day and handling over 1.6 billion search queries per day.It is sometimes described as the "SMS of the Internet".The company experienced rapid growth. It had 400,000 tweets posted per quarter in2007. This grew to 100 million tweets posted per quarter in 2008. In February 2010,Twitter users were sending 50 million tweets per day. By March 2010, the companyrecorded over 70,000 registered applications. As of June 2010, about 65 million tweetswere posted each day, equalling about 750 tweets sent each second, according toTwitter. As noted on Compete.com, Twitter moved up to the third-highest-ranking socialnetworking site in January 2009 from its previous rank of twenty-second.Twitters usage spikes during prominent events. For example, a record was set duringthe 2010 FIFA World Cup when fans wrote 2,940 tweets per second in the thirty-secondperiod after Japan scored against Cameroon on June 14, 2010. The record was brokenagain when 3,085 tweets per second were posted after the Los Angeles Lakers victory inthe 2010 NBA Finals on June 17, 2010, and then again at the close of Japans victoryover Denmark in the World Cup when users published 3,283 tweets per second. WhenAmerican singer Michael Jackson died on June 25, 2009, company servers crashed afterusers were updating their status to include the words "Michael Jackson" at a rate of100,000 tweets per hour.Twitter acquired application developer Atebits on April 11, 2010. Atebits had developedthe Apple Design Award-winning Twitter client Tweetie for the Mac and iPhone. Theapplication, now called "Twitter" and distributed free of charge, is the official Twitterclient for the iPhone, iPad and Mac.From September through October 2010, the company began rolling out "New Twitter",an entirely revamped edition of twitter.com. Changes included the ability to see picturesand videos without leaving Twitter itself by clicking on individual tweets which contain Page 22
  23. 23. Social Media’s Influence in Purchasing Decisions at USAlinks to images and clips from a variety of supported websites including YouTube, Flickr,as well as a complete overhaul of the interface, which shifted links such as @mentionsand Retweets above the Twitter stream, while Messages and Log Out becameaccessible via a black bar at the very top of twitter.com. As of November 1, 2010, thecompany confirmed that the "New Twitter experience" had been rolled out to all users.On April 5, 2011, Twitter tested a new homepage, as well as phasing out the "OldTwitter." However, a glitch came about after the page was launched, so the previous"retro" homepage was still in use until the issues were resolved. On April 20, 2011, thenew homepage was reintroduced, though the "Switch to Old Twitter" option is stillavailable to users. Page 23
  24. 24. Social Media’s Influence in Purchasing Decisions at USALinkedInLinkedIn is a business-related social networking site. Founded in December 2002 andlaunched in May 2003, it is mainly used for professional networking. As of 22 March2011, LinkedIn reports more than 100 million registered users, spanning more than 200countries and territories worldwide. The site is available in English, French, German,Italian, Portuguese, Spanish, Romanian, Russian and Turkish. Quantcast reportsLinkedIn has 21.4 million monthly unique U.S. visitors and 47.6 million globally.LinkedIn filed for an initial public offering in January 2011 and traded its first shares onMay 19, 2011, under the NYSE symbol "LNKD".One purpose of the site is to allow registered users to maintain a list of contact details ofpeople with whom they have some level of relationship, called Connections. Users caninvite anyone (whether a site user or not) to become a connection. However, if therecipient of an invitation selects "I dont know", this counts against the person invitingthem, and after five such "IDKs" a member cannot invite another to connect without firstsupplying their recipient mail address.This list of connections can then be used in a number of ways: • A contact network is built up consisting of their direct connections, the connections of each of their connections (termed second-degree connections) and also the connections of second-degree connections (termed third-degree connections). This can be used to gain an introduction to someone a person wishes to know through a mutual contact. • It can then be used to find jobs, people and business opportunities recommended by someone in ones contact network. • Employers can list jobs and search for potential candidates. • Job seekers can review the profile of hiring managers and discover which of their existing contacts can introduce them. • Users can post their own photos and view photos of others to aid in identification. • Users can now follow different companies and can get notification about the new joining and offers available. • Users can save (i.e. bookmark) jobs which they would like to apply for. Page 24
  25. 25. Social Media’s Influence in Purchasing Decisions at USAThe "gated-access approach" (where contact with any professional requires either a pre-existing relationship, or the intervention of a contact of theirs) is intended to build trustamong the services users. LinkedIn participates in the EUs International Safe HarbourPrivacy Principles.LinkedIn also allows users to research companies with which they may be interested inworking. When typing the name of a given company in the search box, statistics aboutthe company are provided. These may include the ratio of female to male employees,the percentage of the most common titles/positions held within the company, thelocation of the companys headquarters and offices, or a list of present and formeremployees.The feature LinkedIn Answers, similar to Yahoo! Answers, allows users to ask questionsfor the community to answer. This feature is free and the main difference from the latteris that questions are potentially more business-oriented, and the identity of the peopleasking and answering questions is known.Another LinkedIn feature is LinkedIn Polls.A mobile version of the site was launched in February 2008 which gives access to areduced feature set over a mobile phone. The mobile service is available in sixlanguages: Chinese, English, French, German, Japanese and Spanish.In mid-2008, LinkedIn launched LinkedIn DirectAds as a form of sponsored advertising.In October, 2008, LinkedIn revealed plans to opening its social network of 30 millionprofessionals globally as a potential sample for business-to-business research. It istesting a potential social-network revenue model-research that to some appears morepromising than advertising.In October, 2008, LinkedIn enabled an "applications platform" that allows other onlineservices to be embedded within a members profile page. Among the initial applicationswere an Amazon Reading List that allows LinkedIn members to display books they arereading, a connection to Tripit, and a Six Apart, WordPress and TypePad application thatallows members to display their latest blog postings within their LinkedIn profile.In November, 2010, LinkedIn allowed businesses to list products and services oncompany profile pages; it also permitted LinkedIn members to "recommend" productsand services and write reviews.In January 2011, LinkedIn acquired CardMunch, a mobile app maker that scans businesscards and converts into contacts. LinkedIn plans to integrate this functionality into theirservices in the near future. Page 25
  26. 26. Social Media’s Influence in Purchasing Decisions at USALinkedIn also supports the formation of interest groups, and as of March 24, 2011 thereare 870,612 such groups whose membership varies from 1 to 377,000. The majority ofthe largest groups are employment related, although a very wide range of topics arecovered mainly around professional and career issues, and there are currently 128,000groups for both academic and corporate alumni.Groups support a limited form of discussion area, moderated by the group owners andmanagers. Since groups offer the ability to reach a wide audience without so easilyfalling foul of anti-spam solutions, there is a constant stream of spam postings, andthere now exist a range of firms who offer a spamming service for this very purpose.LinkedIn has devised a few mechanisms to reduce the volume of spam, but recently tookthe decision to remove the ability of group owners to inspect the email address of newmembers in order to determine if they were spammers.Groups may be private, accessible to members only or may be open to Internet users ingeneral to read, though they must join in order to post messages. Page 26
  27. 27. Social Media’s Influence in Purchasing Decisions at USAMySpaceMySpace is a social networking website. Its headquarters are in Beverly Hills, Californiawhere it shares an office building with its immediate owner, News Corp. Digital Media,owned by News Corporation.MySpace became the most popular social networking site in the United States in June2006, a position that it held throughout 2007 until 2008. However by April 2008,according to comScore, MySpace was overtaken internationally by its main competitor,Facebook, based on monthly unique visitors. MySpace employs 1,000 employees, afterlaying off 30% of its workforce in June 2009; the company does not disclose revenues orprofits separately from News Corporation. Quantcast estimates MySpaces monthly U.S.unique visitors at 19.7 million as of May 2011.Profiles contain two standard "blurbs": "About Me" and "Who Id Like to Meet" sections.Profiles also contain an "Interests" section and a "Details" section. In the "Details"section, "Status" and "Zodiac Sign" fields will always display. However, fields in thesesections will not be displayed if members do not fill them in. Profiles also contain a blogwith standard fields for content, emotion, and media. MySpace also supports uploadingimages. One of the images can be chosen to be the "default image", the image that willbe seen on the profiles main page, search page, and as the image that will appear tothe side of the users name on comments, messages, etc. A photo editor powered byFotoflexer is available which can not only crop images and adjust contrast but alsoconvert the image to a cartoon or a line drawing made with neon lights, or put the usersface in a photo of a $100 bill. Flash, such as on MySpaces video service, can beembedded. Blogging features are also available. These features could be hidden on aprofile by using the module customizer or using HTML/CSS codes. Photos could bedisplayed on the MySpace profile instead of a link that it was used in previous years.Photos can be made into a slide show.Bulletins are posts that are posted on to a "bulletin board" for everyone on a MySpaceusers friends list to see. Bulletins can be useful for contacting an entire friends listwithout resorting to messaging users individually. They have also become the primaryattack point for phishing. Bulletins are deleted after ten days.MySpace had a Groups feature that allowed a group of users to share a common pageand message board. Groups could be created by anybody, and the moderator of thegroup could choose for anyone to join, or to approve or deny requests to join. InNovember 2010, the group feature was turned off; a user clicking on the "Groups" link inthe features menu was led to a page that announced that groups were being revamped,and the user could sign up to be informed of when groups would come back. A similar Page 27
  28. 28. Social Media’s Influence in Purchasing Decisions at USAmessage has been posted repeatedly in the Help page. No date for the reappearance ofthe group has been mentioned.In early 2006, MySpace introduced MySpaceIM, an instant messenger that uses onesMySpace account as a screen name. A MySpace user logs in to the client using the samee-mail associated with his or her MySpace account. Unlike other parts of MySpace,MySpaceIM is stand-alone software for Microsoft Windows. Users who use MySpaceIMget instant notification of new MySpace messages, friend requests, and comments.MySpaceIM was added as an default feature of MySpace by the end of 2009.In early 2007, MySpace introduced MySpaceTV, a service similar to the YouTube videosharing website. MySpace has been showing videos as early as 2006, but it has changedit name to MySpaceTV for a while. In 2009, MySpaceTV reverted back to MySpace Videoonce again. MySpace Video continues to be not as popular as other video sharing sitessuch as YouTube, but many sites had partnered with MySpace such as Hulu to promotetheir media to the MySpace community.In 2008, MySpace introduced an API with which users could create applications for otherusers to post on their profiles. The applications are similar to the Facebook applications.In May 2008, MySpace had added some security options regarding interaction withphotos and other media. Many applications that are popular on MySpace had spin offversions on Facebook. The MySpace app Mafia Wars has become a Facebook sensationas well. On the other hand, Facebook applications such as Bumper Stickers and Farmvillehave been used in MySpace and were popular as well. Many application partnershipssuch as Zygna and Slide has been responsible from creating third party apps for use onboth MySpace and Facebook, along with for use in the iTunes app store.There are a variety of environments in which users can access MySpace content on theirmobile phone. American mobile phone provider Helio released a series of mobile phonesin early 2006 that can utilize a service known as MySpace Mobile to access and editones profile and communicate with, and view the profiles of other members.Additionally, UIEvolution and MySpace developed a mobile version of MySpace for awider range of carriers, including AT&T, Vodafone and Rogers Wireless.In April 2007, MySpace launched a news service called MySpace News which displaysnews from RSS feeds that users submit. It also allows users to rank each news story byvoting for it. The more votes a story gets, the higher the story moves up the page.Full service classifieds listing offered beginning in August 2006. It has grown by 33percent in one year since inception. MySpace Classifieds was launched right at the sametime the site appeared on the internet. Page 28
  29. 29. Social Media’s Influence in Purchasing Decisions at USALaunched April 29, 2008, ksolo.myspace.com is a combination of MySpace and kSolo,which allows users to upload audio recordings of themselves singing onto their profilepage. Users friends are able to rate the performances. A video feature is not yetavailable, but Tom Anderson, MySpace co-founder and president, states that it is in theworks.MySpace Polls is a feature on MySpace that was brought back in 2008 to enable users topost polls on their profile and share them with other users.MySpace uses an implementation of Telligent Community for its forum system. Page 29
  30. 30. Social Media’s Influence in Purchasing Decisions at USAUnited States of AmericaThe United States of America (also referred to as the United States, the U.S., the USA,or America) is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federaldistrict. The country is situated mostly in central North America, where its forty-eightcontiguous states and Washington, D.C., the capital district, lie between the Pacific andAtlantic Oceans, bordered by Canada to the north and Mexico to the south. The state ofAlaska is in the northwest of the continent, with Canada to the east and Russia to thewest across the Bering Strait. The state of Hawaii is an archipelago in the mid-Pacific.The country also possesses several territories in the Caribbean and Pacific.At 3.79 million square miles (9.83 million km2) and with over 310 million people, theUnited States is the third or fourth largest country by total area, and the third largestboth by land area and population. It is one of the worlds most ethnically diverse andmulticultural nations, the product of large-scale immigration from many countries. TheU.S. economy is the worlds largest national economy, with an estimated 2010 GDP of$14.780 trillion (23% of nominal global GDP and 20% of global GDP at purchasing powerparity).Indigenous peoples of Asian origin have inhabited what is now the mainland UnitedStates for many thousands of years. This Native American population was greatlyreduced by disease and warfare after European contact. The United States was foundedby thirteen British colonies located along the Atlantic seaboard. On July 4, 1776, theyissued the Declaration of Independence, which proclaimed their right to self-determination and their establishment of a cooperative union. The rebellious statesdefeated the British Empire in the American Revolution, the first successful colonial warof independence. The current United States Constitution was adopted on September 17,1787; its ratification the following year made the states part of a single republic with astrong federal government. The Bill of Rights, comprising ten constitutional amendmentsguaranteeing many fundamental civil rights and freedoms, was ratified in 1791.Through the 19th century, the United States displaced native tribes, acquired land fromFrance, Spain, the United Kingdom, Mexico, and Russia, and annexed the Republic ofTexas and the Republic of Hawaii. Disputes between the agrarian South and industrialNorth over the expansion of the institution of slavery and states rights provoked theAmerican Civil War of the 1860s. The Norths victory prevented a permanent split of thecountry and led to the end of legal slavery in the United States. By the 1870s, thenational economy was the worlds largest. The Spanish–American War and World War Iconfirmed the countrys status as a military power. It emerged from World War II as thefirst country with nuclear weapons and a permanent member of the United NationsSecurity Council. The end of the Cold War and the dissolution of the Soviet Union left the Page 30
  31. 31. Social Media’s Influence in Purchasing Decisions at USAUnited States as the sole superpower. The country accounts for 43% of global militaryspending and is a leading economic, political, and cultural force in the world. Page 31
  32. 32. Social Media’s Influence in Purchasing Decisions at USAEconomy of USAThe United States has a capitalist mixed economy, which is fueled by abundant naturalresources, a well-developed infrastructure, and high productivity. According to theInternational Monetary Fund, the U.S. GDP of $14.780 trillion constitutes 23% of thegross world product at market exchange rates and over 20% of the gross world productat purchasing power parity (PPP). It has the largest national GDP in the world, though itis about 5% less than the GDP of the European Union at PPP in 2008. The country ranksninth in the world in nominal GDP per capita and sixth in GDP per capita at PPP.The United States is the largest importer of goods and third largest exporter, thoughexports per capita are relatively low. In 2008, the total U.S. trade deficit was $696billion. Canada, China, Mexico, Japan, and Germany are its top trading partners. In2007, vehicles constituted both the leading import and leading export commodity. Japanis the largest foreign holder of U.S. public debt, having surpassed China in early 2010.The United States ranks second in the Global Competitiveness Report.In 2009, the private sector was estimated to constitute 55.3% of the economy, withfederal government activity accounting for 24.1% and state and local governmentactivity (including federal transfers) the remaining 20.6%. The economy is post-industrial, with the service sector contributing 67.8% of GDP, though the United Statesremains an industrial power. The leading business field by gross business receipts iswholesale and retail trade; by net income it is manufacturing. Chemical products are theleading manufacturing field. The United States is the third largest producer of oil in theworld, as well as its largest importer. It is the worlds number one producer of electricaland nuclear energy, as well as liquid natural gas, sulfur, phosphates, and salt. Whileagriculture accounts for just under 1% of GDP, the United States is the worlds topproducer of corn and soybeans. The New York Stock Exchange is the worlds largest bydollar volume. Coca-Cola and McDonalds are the two most recognized brands in theworld.In August 2010, the American labour force comprised 154.1 million people. With 21.2million people, government is the leading field of employment. The largest privateemployment sector is health care and social assistance, with 16.4 million people. About12% of workers are unionized, compared to 30% in Western Europe. The World Bankranks the United States first in the ease of hiring and firing workers. In 2009, the UnitedStates had the third highest labor productivity per person in the world, behindLuxembourg and Norway. It was fourth in productivity per hour, behind those twocountries and the Netherlands. Compared to Europe, U.S. property and corporate incometax rates are generally higher, while labor and, particularly, consumption tax rates arelower. Page 32
  33. 33. Social Media’s Influence in Purchasing Decisions at USADemographics of USAAs of June 23, 2011, the United States has a total resident population of 311,610,000,making it the third most populous country in the world. It is a very urbanized population,with 82% residing in cities and suburbs as of 2008 (the worldwide urban rate is 50.5%).This leaves vast expanses of the country nearly uninhabited. California and Texas arethe most populous states, as the mean center of United States population hasconsistently shifted westward and southward. New York City is the most populous city inthe United States.The total fertility rate in the United States estimated for 2009 is 2.01 children perwoman, which is below the sub-replacement fertility threshold of 2.1. However, U.S.population growth is among the highest in industrialized countries, since the vastmajority of these have below-replacement fertility rates and the U.S. has higher levels ofimmigration. The United States Census Bureau shows population increases rangingbetween 0.85% and 0.89% for the twelve-month periods ending in 2009. Nonetheless,though high by industrialized country standards, this is below the world average annualrate of 1.19%.There were 155.6 million females in the United States in 2009. The number of males was151.4 million. At age 85 and older, there were more than twice as many women as men.People under 20 years of age made up over a quarter of the U.S. population (27.3%),and people age 65 and over made up one-eighth (12.8%) in 2009. The national medianage was 36.8 years. Racially, the U.S. has a White American majority.The American population more than tripled during the 20th century—at a growth rate ofabout 1.3% a year—from about 76 million in 1900 to 281 million in 2000. It reached the200 million mark in 1967, and the 300 million mark on October 17, 2006. Currently,population growth is fastest among minorities as a whole, and according to the CensusBureaus estimation for 2005, 45% of American children under the age of 5 belonged tominority groups.Hispanic and Latino Americans accounted for almost half (1.4 million) of the nationalpopulation growth of 2.9 million between July 1, 2005, and July 1, 2006. Immigrantsand their U.S.-born descendants are expected to provide most of the U.S. populationgains in the decades ahead.The Census Bureau projects a U.S. population of 439 million in 2050, which is a 46%increase from 2007 (301.3 million). However, the United Nations projects a U.S.population of 402 million in 2050, an increase of 32% from 2007 (the UN projects a gainof 38% for the world at large). In either case, such growth is unlike most European Page 33
  34. 34. Social Media’s Influence in Purchasing Decisions at USAcountries, especially Germany, Russia, Italy, and Greece, or Asian countries such asJapan or South Korea, whose populations are slowly declining, and whose fertility ratesare below replacement.The United States has dozens of major cities, including 8 of the 60 "global cities" of alltypes, with three in the "alpha" group of global cities: New York City, Los Angeles andChicago. As of 2008, the United States had 52 metropolitan areas with a population ofover 1,000,000 people each.As of 2011, about 250 million Americans live in or around urban areas. That means morethan three-quarters of the U.S. population shares just about three percent of the U.S.land area. Page 34
  35. 35. Social Media’s Influence in Purchasing Decisions at USAThe following table shows the populations of the top ten cities and their metropolitanareas, as of July 1, 2008. Rank Core City Population Metro Metro area Region rank pop. 1 New York City, 8,363,710 1 19,006,798 Northeast New York 2 Los Angeles, 3,833,995 2 12,872,808 West California 3 Chicago, Illinois 2,853,114 3 9,569,624 Midwest 4 Houston, Texas 2,242,193 6 5,728,143 South 5 Phoenix, Arizona 1,567,924 12 4,281,899 West 6 Philadelphia, 1,447,395 5 5,838,471 Northeast Pennsylvania 7 San Antonio, 1,351,305 28 2,031,445 South Texas 8 Dallas, Texas 1,279,910 4 6,300,006 South 9 San Diego, 1,279,329 17 3,001,072 West California 10 San Jose, 948,279 31 1,819,198 West California 2008 U.S. Census Bureau estimates Page 35
  36. 36. Social Media’s Influence in Purchasing Decisions at USALeveraging Social Networking Sites to Generate BusinessIt wasn’t until 1997, that the World Wide Web reached 50 million users throughout theUnited States. Facebook has gained over 100 million users in the US, since January,2009, marking a 145% growth within a year. If you’re a business owner and you stillhaven’t embraced the boon of a social networking website, you’re perhaps laggingbehind. Business organizations can easily boost their profits by marketing their productthrough a social networking website and stay away from debt. Though the business debtconsolidation options are there to assist you in managing your surging commercial debts,you must always take the needed steps to leave behind debt and stay financially fit.The financial health of your business can easily be determined by perusing the balancesheet where there is a clear comparison of the revenue and the investment. Though fewyears ago, a social networking website was primarily used for networking and friendship,yet nowadays, most businesses are leveraging the most famous social networkingwebsites to generate more revenue within their business organizations. Such steps arebeing taken to make ends meet amidst the tough economic conditions in the US. Have alook at the significant ways in which you can build your business organization byeffective socialization in the social networking websites.• Builds brand awareness – Targeting the brand-conscious peopleThe online social networking websites are the best platform for building and reinforcinga brand or an image that can be done easily. You just need to create a commercialprofile in the most famous networking websites like Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn andplace an image or a logo of your company as the display picture. This not only booststhe visibility, but also creates brand awareness among the visitors. However, you alsoneed to maintain a consistency in your words and actions in order to further develop andenhance your identity as the business owner.• Being with your customers – Targeting the right audience for your businessThis effect of the social networking websites is unavoidable. Such websites entirely relyon the regular presence of the millions of users. There are a huge number of people whospend their whole day browsing through different profiles in the social networkingwebsites, irrespective of their age. Thus, if you can create a niche in such a website, youcan well understand the effect that you may create online. Page 36
  37. 37. Social Media’s Influence in Purchasing Decisions at USA• Level of acceptability – Using the popularity of the websites to your benefitYou must be well aware of the fact that the social networking websites are becomingincreasingly popular with time. A large number of users are resorting to such sites forcreating their personal business network and boosting the traffic to their company. Oneof the biggest benefits of leveraging the social networking sites is to boost theacceptability of your company website. As the networking websites are extremelyacceptable by the people, any company that has a profile in such a site is alsoautomatically accepted by the people.• Cost effective method – Enhancing profits in a relatively cheap wayWhile a business organization comes into operation, there are multiple things that needto be considered by the owner. The business costs are one of the most important pointsto be taken into consideration by the lenders. Boosting your business profits through asocial networking website is a relatively cheap method as there is no such cost involved.You just have to create a profile in a site to continue with your efforts.Before opening an account and becoming active on a particular social networkingwebsite, it is crucial to consider what each site offers to its visitors and how you maybenefit from their resources. Take some time to realize your personal social mediamarketing strategy and create a fully developed plan to enhance your business goals.Augment the returns and use the proceeds in creating an emergency fund so that youneed not run to business debt consolidation companies during a financial urgency.It is a golden rule of networking that people do business with people that they know,like, trust and respect. Networking meetings are facilitated at all times, breakfast,brunch, lunch, evenings, dinners, events etc all over the country enabling people tonetwork face to face on a regular basis in order to build up those relationships.You need to present yourself to the outside world in a way that attracts interest. Not justa very brief note of who you are and a list of the things you do but a personal statementthat brings your personality to life and makes people want to know more about you andwhat you do. Photographs are important because research shows that people are farmore likely to respond to someone they can "see". Page 37
  38. 38. Social Media’s Influence in Purchasing Decisions at USABenefits of promoting your business and expertise within a networkYou gain credibility and visibility. You gain and dispense knowledge and expertise. Youhelp others and are helped by others. You can market, promote, advertise and sell yourproducts or services online. You can use a social network as a marketing database tofind customers or clients through key word searches. You can conduct market researchthrough polls. You can look at what your competition is doing. You can define your targetmarket and address them. It is a low cost route to market.People do business with people that they know, like, trust and respect. You can "meet"online and then arrange face to face meetings. Online networks are a great filter. Theybring together people with mutual wants and needs and with like minds. They find yousuppliers and clients. They find you partners, they find you staff and consultants. Theymatch supply and demand. The community may be purely business, purely social orincreasingly somewhere in between because "people are people".Utilising personal networks and the internet to find new contactsOnline networks and clubs bring together people with similar interests. Search facilitiesallow you to find people, people to find you and people to find each other. Visibility todaydoes not mean what you know or who you know but who knows YOUBuilding your business through referrals and collaborationOnce you have established visibility and credibility you will start to get testimonials andpeople will advocate and recommend you and you will quickly find you have a regularsupply of referrals being passed to you based upon your reputation and expertise.Others will approach you and ask you to collaborate with them or work in partnershipand together you may be able to win contracts that you would not win as a sole trader. Page 38
  39. 39. Social Media’s Influence in Purchasing Decisions at USA1.1 Background of the problem Social media use is increasing and with that, more companies are investing time and money to market via social networks. Is the use of social media by companies influencing purchasing decisions? In this age of globalization, the world has become too small a place thanks to the electronic media and portals. Communication has become effective as never before thanks to the advent of internet. The social networking sites have also played a crucial role in bridging boundaries and crossing the seas and bringing all people at a common platform where they can meet like minded people or find old friends and communicate with them. It has become a potential mean to relation building and staying in touch with all known. Hence the objective that I wanted to achieve through my research is to: Find out the influence of social networking sites on the purchasing decision of the people- how it affects the business, what are its uses for each individuals and how have they been influenced by these sites. Page 39
  40. 40. Social Media’s Influence in Purchasing Decisions at USA1.2 Introduction to the Company iSource Solutions IT Enabled Pvt Ltd iSource Solutions Inc., is one of the largest BPO Company in North America. iSource helped hundreds of small and medium enterprises in North America and Europe by their impressive cost savings and unassailable delivery turnaround time. iSource is one of the largest transcription companies in North America. They bring with them a truck load of transcriptioning experience, serving big ticket companies, media powerhouses, medical behemoths, technology blue chips, law firms etc. as well as independent media content providers, podcasters, market research groups, elite institutes, government departments, insurance companies, NGOs etc. TranscriptionStar is a flagship division of iSource Solutions Inc., which has been providing business process outsourcing needs for small and medium enterprises in North America and Europe since its inception in 2004. Headquartered in Pomona, California, with branch offices in New York, Texas, Florida, New Jersey and having its offshore delivery facility in different parts of India, iSource is a technology-driven company that has a rich client base in UK and US. A customer- oriented approach, acquired from years of experience in handling diverse clients, has led us to innovate with flexible and client specific programs designed to conform to the requirements of even the most fastidious customer. Their prodigious work in the field of general transcriptions has led the name of TranscriptionStar to be synonymous with Quality Voice to Text services. iSource guarantee superior customer service and our transparent, cost-efficient pricing has made their services highly favourable with small business units and individual clients. The iSource management teams ensure seamless interaction between our project management, business development and administrative teams in US with the production teams in India. Leveraging the advantages of experienced, industry professionals and an extensive, highly skilled human resource pool, iSource provides high quality, cost-effective service for our extensive client base. Coupling quality product with quality customer service, they are successfully supporting more than 100 customers from the different domains of business, academia, media, legal, finance, marketing and healthcare. iSource Data Division has handled large size Data Processing and Conversion Projects for Corporate (US & Europe) from varied industries like Finance, Insurance, Legal Healthcare, & Publishing. Page 40
  41. 41. Social Media’s Influence in Purchasing Decisions at USAHiring Virtual Assistants is global trend and it is saving thousands of dollars everyyear for Small and Medium Businesses. Their Virtual Assistants are enablingentrepreneurs to enjoy the luxury of hiring at the fraction of cost and not having tokeep office overheads. Todays Blackberry age gives comfort to stay in touch withVirtual Assistant. At iSource, their Virtual Assistants are armed and equipped withstate-of- the-art collaborative tools, which enable Virtual Office. With Web based workflow tools, Working together got easier like never before. Industry leading Virtualoffice tool such as WebEx Web Office offers key functions like Sharing documents,calendars, databases and holding web meetings. “Real-time and anytime collaborationis buzz word, Keep everyone connected, Keep their clients office open 24 hours a day,with Zero hardware, zero software, and zero IT”. Page 41
  42. 42. Social Media’s Influence in Purchasing Decisions at USA1.3 Brief introduction to the Research Methodology1.3.1 Objective of the study:  To find out the influence of social networking sites on the purchasing decision of the people  To find out how Social Networking sites helps the marketers  To Understand the various advantage of using Social networking sites  To find out whether the users believe in online marketers1.3.2 Methodology and Sample selection: The methodology of the study is as follows, Data Collection method: After secondary data collection through data collection over the internet, a primary research was carried out through a questionnaire. The questionnaire was well structured and the responses were sought from the respondents. The nature of the questions was such that it avoided ambiguous responses from the respondents and it also helped in quick analysis of the data collected. Two methods of questioning were used for the data collection: a). Person Assisted: The responses were collected by telephonic personal questioning. The responses were taken from the clients of iSource Solutions Inc. This form of questioning helped the respondent to understand the questions better and answer accordingly. b). Wed enabled: The questionnaire was e-mailed to respondents who filled it and then mailed it back. A flaw that I realized there was that some of the respondents did not understand the questions and hence could not answer them to the best of their capability, unlike the other method employed where the questions could be explained if required. Sample Size: In this study, 100 clients of iSource IT Enabled Service Pvt Ltd are selected as sample1.3.3 Research Design: Page 42
  43. 43. Social Media’s Influence in Purchasing Decisions at USAResearch: Descriptive researchData Source: Primary and SecondaryResearch Instrument: QuestionnaireType of Questionnaire: Structured non-disguisedType of questions: Closed ended questionsSample unit: Clients of iSource IT Enabled Service Pvt LtdSample unit: 100 qualified usersSampling procedure: Simple random procedureContact method: In personal via telephone and onlineMode of collecting data: the respondent will be chosen randomly and requested togrand interviews. The questions then will be asked in a firm.Determined sequence: The secondary data will be collected from various books,journals, report – both published and unpublished. Page 43
  44. 44. Social Media’s Influence in Purchasing Decisions at USA 1.3.4 Period of Study: The period of study was from 20-4-2011 to 31-5-2011.1.3.5 Tools of data Collection: A questionnaire is developed to collect data from respondents. The primary data are analysed and interpretation of the results was made done with the help of pictorial representation1.3.6 Statistical Analysis: Statistical tools are for used for analyzing and for interpreting the data with the help of pictorial representation. 1. Percentage analysis 2. Chi-Square analysis 3. Binomial Distribution Fitting 4. Median Page 44
  45. 45. Social Media’s Influence in Purchasing Decisions at USAPercentage analysisPercentage refers to a special kind of ratio. Percentages are used in making comparisonbetween two or more series of data. Percentages are used to describe relationships.Percentages are also be used to compare the relative terms, the distribution of two ormore series of data. % of respondent = No: of Respondents X 100 Total RespondentChi square testThe Chi square test is one of the simplest and most used non-parameter tests instatistical work. The quantity chi square describes the magnitude of the discrepancybetween theory and observation.The steps involved in Chi square tests are as follows. 1. Observed frequencies O are tabulated. 2. Expected frequencies E are tabulated. Expected frequency for any cell can be calculated using the formula, E = (RT * CT) / N Where E → Expected frequency RT → The row total for the row containing the cell CT → The column total for the column containing the cell N → The total number of observation 3. The difference between the observed and expected frequencies are obtained and squares of these differences are tabulated (O – E )2 4. The values of (O – E )2 obtained in step 3 are divided by the respective expected frequency and total Σ (O – E )2 / E is obtained. 5. The calculated value of X2 is compared with the table value of X 2 for a given degree of freedom at a certain level of significance (generally 5% level is Page 45
  46. 46. Social Media’s Influence in Purchasing Decisions at USA selected).By degrees of freedom we mean the number of classes to which the values can beassigned arbitrarily if at the 5% level of significance, the calculated value of X2 is morethan the table value of X2, the difference between theory and observation is consideredto be significant.On the other hand, the calculated value of X2 is not considered as significant, i.e. it isregarded as due to fluctuations of sampling and hence ignored. The degree of freedomcan be calculated by using v = (c-1) (r-1) where c refers to column and r refers to rows.Binomial distributionIn probability theory and statistics, the binomial distribution is the discrete probabilitydistribution of the number of successes in a sequence of n independent yes/noexperiments, each of which yields success with probability p. Such a success/failureexperiment is also called a Bernoulli experiment or Bernoulli trial; when n = 1, thebinomial distribution is a Bernoulli distribution. The Binomial distribution is an n timesrepeated Bernoulli trial. The binomial distribution is the basis for the popular binomialtest of statistical significance.The binomial distribution is frequently used to model the number of successes in asample of size n drawn with replacement from a population of size N. If the sampling iscarried out without replacement, the draws are not independent and so the resultingdistribution is a hyper geometric distribution, not a binomial one. However, for N muchlarger than n, the binomial distribution is a good approximation, and widely used.MedianIn probability theory and statistics, a median is described as the numerical valueseparating the higher half of a sample, a population, or a probability distribution, fromthe lower half. The median of a finite list of numbers can be found by arranging all theobservations from lowest value to highest value and picking the middle one. If there isan even number of observations, then there is no single middle value; the median isthen usually defined to be the mean of the two middle values.In a sample of data, or a finite population, there may be no member of the samplewhose value is identical to the median (in the case of an even sample size), and, if thereis such a member, there may be more than one so that the median may not uniquelyidentify a sample member. Nonetheless, the value of the median is uniquely determinedwith the usual definition. A related concept, in which the outcome is forced to correspondto a member of the sample, is the medoid. Page 46
  47. 47. Social Media’s Influence in Purchasing Decisions at USAAt most, half the population have values less than the median, and, at most, half havevalues greater than the median. If both groups contain less than half the population,then some of the population is exactly equal to the median. For example, if a < b < c,then the median of the list {a, b, c} is b, and, if a < b < c < d, then the median of thelist {a, b, c, d} is the mean of b and c; i.e., it is (b + c)/2.The median can be used as a measure of location when a distribution is skewed, whenend-values are not known, or when one requires reduced importance to be attached tooutliers, e.g., because they may be measurement errors. A disadvantage of the medianis the difficulty of handling it theoretically. Page 47
  48. 48. Social Media’s Influence in Purchasing Decisions at USACharts used in the projectColumn Chart:A column chart, also known as a bar chart, is a chart with rectangular bars of lengthsusually proportional to the magnitudes or frequencies of what they represent. The barscan be horizontally or vertically oriented. The column chart is vertically oriented bars.Column charts are useful for showing data changes over a period of time or forillustrating comparisons among items. In column charts, categories are typicallyorganized along the horizontal axis and values along the vertical axis.Line Chart:A line chart or line graph is a type of graph, which displays information as a series ofdata points connected by straight line segments. It is a basic type of chart common inmany fields. It is an extension of a scatter graph, and is created by connecting a seriesof points that represent individual measurements with line segments. A line chart isoften used to visualize a trend in data over intervals of time – a time series – thus theline is often drawn chronologically.Pie Chart:A pie chart (or a circle graph) is a circular chart divided into sectors, illustratingproportion. In a pie chart, the arc length of each sector (and consequently its centralangle and area), is proportional to the quantity it represents. When angles are measuredwith 1 turn as unit then a number of percent is identified with the same number ofcentiturns. Together, the sectors create a full disk. It is named for its resemblance to apie which has been sliced. The earliest known pie chart is generally credited to WilliamPlayfairs Statistical Breviary of 1801.The pie chart is perhaps the most ubiquitous statistical chart in the business world andthe mass media. However, it has been criticized, and some recommend avoiding it,pointing out in particular that it is difficult to compare different sections of a given piechart, or to compare data across different pie charts. Pie charts can be an effective wayof displaying information in some cases, in particular if the intent is to compare the sizeof a slice with the whole pie, rather than comparing the slices among them. Pie chartswork particularly well when the slices represent 25 to 50% of the data, but in general,other plots such as the bar chart or the dot plot, or non-graphical methods such astables, may be more adapted for representing certain information. It also shows thefrequency within certain groups of information.Bar Chart: Page 48

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