Brands Beat Out Celebs in Social Media Popularity

Forget about the Kardashians and other irritating celebrity B-Listers. Brands and retailers are the real celebrities in the social media world, a new report shows. Nearly two-thirds (61 percent) of social media users who "fan" social media pages are choosing to follow brands and retailers—beating out celebrities and TV shows, which are followed by just over half of users.

Contrary to a widespread misperception, most likely pumped up by their own self-promotion machine, the Kardashians are not the leaders of the Facebook pack, according to a survey measuring how the power of social media and online information are affecting buying decisions.

The survey of nearly 1,800 shoppers was conducted by WSL/Strategic, an authority on shopper behavior and retail trends.

"In fact, Walmart is the greater social media 'celebrity' with more than double the number of followers as the Kardashian family’s most popular member, Kim," said Wendy Liebmann, CEO of WSL/Strategic Retail. "That said, awareness doesn’t necessarily translate into sales — yet. Today only 26 percent of all users go to their social networks for information about something they want to buy. However, that number jumps to 40 percent among millennial shoppers, a strong indication that social media’s influence on buying decisions will continue to grow."

Retailers wanting to get a glimpse of the future of shopping should pay close attention to millennial behavior, the survey found. While the amount of time Americans spend online continues to inch up, social media usage has declined for the first time, led by Generation X, boomers and seniors. Only millennials remain consistent in usage.

In fact, millennials showed the highest increase in time spent online — a full 25 hours per week (up 5 hours per week over 2011. In addition to relying heavily on their social networks for information about products they want to buy (40 percent), they are also the leaders in using mobile phone to help them shop (63 percent), resulting in a 15-point margin over Gen X shoppers.

Reach BusinessNewsDaily senior writer Ned Smith at nsmith@techmedianetwork.com. Follow him on Twitter @nedbsmith.We're also on Facebook & Google+.