There are 2.3billion active social media users. Facebook has 1.71billion users, with 500,000 new users joining the network each day. Twitter has 1.3billion accounts, and while only 320million of those are active, 500million tweets are thought to be sent daily.

The growth of these platforms has had a strong impact on the retail industry and it is estimated 91% of retail brands now use at least two social channels to reach and engage with their audience.

In a recent report conducted by PwC, it was found 78% of consumers are influenced by online social media; an increase of 10% in the last 12 months.

In fact, 43% of consumers proclaim interaction with a favourite brand on social media results in a greater belief in the brand -– showcasing social media as an effective tool in building trust, loyalty and longevity for consumers and retailers alike.

OnBuy.com analysed data to find out exactly which aspects of social media hold the biggest influence over consumers. It was found that a generous 45% claim it is reading stranger’s reviews, comments and feedback that made the most difference to how they shop.

Proving today’s consumer is more concerned with experience than instant, impulsive purchases (16%) or staying on top of current fashions and trends (25%.)

Increasingly, utilising social media as a shopping tool is a revolution led by the young.

Jan-Pieter Lips, president of international coalitions at Aimia, comments: “It’s the younger demographic that are driving the ‘social shopping’ trend. Brands need to keep up with this demand if they are going to make the most of the future generation of shoppers.”

Fittingly, it was found 33% of 18 – 24-year-olds would like to purchase items from Facebook directly. 27% would like to purchase from Instagram, 20% from Twitter, followed by Pinterest (17%) and Snapchat (15%.)

Given social shopping advances in place so far, such as major sites like Instagram assisting purchases through a clickable link on ‘most liked’ items; it’s true to say that an investment into a social media shopping strategy for companies around the globe could prove to be very fruitful indeed.

Today, social scrolling acts as a good indicator of the potential value of social commerce – and what products will sell in retail – with more than half (56%) of consumers who follow brands on social media saying they do so to view products.

Though many brands are yet to enable this type of direct shopping, consumers are liberated – using social channels as a source of inspiration. In fact, social networks are the UK’s leading source of inspiration (39%) – 2% ahead of individual retailer websites (37%) and 4% ahead of price comparison websites (35%.)

Cas Paton, MD of OnBuy.com, comments: “Logging online is part of our everyday narrative in 2017, so it’s impossible for what we see whilst surfing the net to not influence us in some way – particularly when it comes to personal activities like shopping. We all want the best deal, the most suited appliance and the sturdiest investment