BERLIN: Some 13m people follow companies or brands on social media services in Germany, new figures show.

According to research by BITKOM, the trade body, a 48% share of 14–29 year old internet users have connected with brands via this channel.

The total stood at 20% for  30–49 year olds belonging to the online population, and fell to just 11% of the web audience aged 50 years old and above.

However, the analysis also revealed that there are few discernible differences in this area when dividing brand "fans" by gender or educational qualifications.

"Social networks are playing an increasingly important role in purchasing decisions and building brand loyalty," said Bernhard Rohleder, of BITKOM.

"Younger consumers in particular are now heavily influenced by brands that are building their presence on social networks."

Rohleder further suggested that the potential of sites like Facebook, Twitter and Google+ went far beyond simply posting messages and content.

"Organisations can answer questions from customers, enter into conversation with users and involve them in the development of new products," he said.

Data sourced from BITKOM; additional content by Warc staff