LONDON: Brands still have a long way to go to connect with consumers on social media in the same way they do via their official websites, research from Shoppercentric shows.

According to a new report from the research agency, only 6% of netizens use social media platforms such as Facebook to buy goods and services.

By contrast, 63% have used other websites - whether through multi-brand online retailers such as Amazon or direct through brands' official sites - to make such purchases.

More broadly, only 9% of consumers follow, "like" or are otherwise fans of brands' official social media pages and profiles - and 37% said they did not see the point of brands having such pages in the first place.

"The use of social networking and mobile commerce in the business context is still in its early stages of development," Danielle Pinnington, managing director at Shoppercentric, said.

Brands' social media presence could become more important in the future, as younger consumers are far more likely to engage than their older counterparts.

In all, 38% of 16–24 year olds follow brands, compared to just 18% of 35–44 year olds and 18% of over-55s.

The report also offered pointers for brands hoping to make their social media presence more engaging.

When asked for reasons to engage with these pages, 32% of consumers cited the desire to feel "part of a group", while 29% said they offered the opportunity to "share thoughts" and "be part of a forum".

But there remains considerable consumer scepticism over those brands which claim their pages were made to boost consumer engagement - rather than the bottom line.

Over half (54%) of those polled by Shoppercentric said brands had set up the social media profiles to "sell more products", while 43% said they were on the networks "because everyone else is".

Data sourced from Shoppercentric; additional content by Warc staff