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Facebook Like Button May Be Bad For Business: Survey Says

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FACEBOOK LIKE BUTTON
Like it or not: A new study shows the Facebook "like" button may discourage online shoppers. | AFP/Getty Images

Including Facebook "like" and Twitter "tweet this" buttons on your website is widely considered a no-brainer -- a great way to encourage interaction with consumers and boost your business. But if you own an ecommerce site, you might want to think twice before adding the ubiquitous digital icons. According to a new study, the presence of the buttons could actually hurt your business.

The study, conducted by the University of Miami School of Business Administration, Empirica Research and StyleCaster Media Group, found that when Facebook and Twitter icons appear on a product page next to "embarrassing" products like Spanx or Clearasil, subjects were 25 percent less likely to buy the products. However, when the icons appear on a product page next to products consumers are “proud” to buy (like designer clothing or fragrances) subjects were 25 percent more likely to make the purchase. Whether or not the shoppers remembered seeing the social media icons did not affect their actions.

Why it matters to your business: "The mere presence of social media icons on a Web page when we’re shopping, apparently causes us to feel as if our purchases are being 'watched' by our social network, and we adjust our buying decisions accordingly,” says Claudia Townsend, an assistant professor involved in the study. Whether or not customers actually tweet or share their purchases, there's apparently a lingering paranoia that, say, the purchase of Rogaine or an ear-hair-trimmer might get blasted out to your entire network. Solution? Assess page-by-page whether your products are something purchasers would want their friends and colleagues to know about -- and if not, remove the buttons.

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