While many commentators have predicted growth in social media marketing in 2011, traditional internet marketing services strategies such as search engine optimisation may be more effective at seeing a return.

This is according to research by Foresee Results, which revealed that more people are likely to use search results as a major influence when making a purchase than use a social media recommendation.

A study of nearly 10,000 visitors to major retailers showed that 13 per cent used a search engine as their primary reason for visiting a website, while three per cent were directed via a social network.

Brand familiarity was the top motivation for people, with 46 per cent using a company they already knew and were comfortable with.

These are also more likely to be satisfied with their visit than those who arrive at a domain through social media.

Commenting on the results, Econsultancy's Graham Charlton said: "Retailers shouldn't allow these figures to discourage them from using social media.

"Instead, [they] could look at how they can do more to make their presence on sites like Facebook more effective."

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