Does social media play a role in your purchase decision among brands? In many, it does.

A new study shows that those who are fans or followers of a brand on Facebook or Twitter, respectively, are significantly more likely to buy products and services or recommend the brand to a friend.

The recent study by Chadwick Martin Bailey and iModerate Research Technologies found 51% of Facebook fans and 67% of Twitter followers said they are more likely to make a purchase from at least a few brands since they became engaged with those brands on social media. Additionally, 60% of study respondents reported that their status as a Facebook fan would increase the likelihood of recommending a brand to a friend. 80% of respondents said the same thing about following a brand on Twitter.

So, what does this mean for businesses ?

Customers and brand enthusiasts are saturating the various networks, and it is crucial for businesses to join them in a space that is not only impactful, but engaging. Some of the top reasons users decided to follow or fan brands in the first place were because they are current customers (49%) and wanted to show support (42%).

In addition, this information-savvy group is looking towards an incentive for participating. For 40% of users, receiving deals, discounts, and promotions from their favorite brands ranked on the top of their wish list.

These users are active, and if businesses want to make a difference in 2010, they need to utilize social media as a direct, open, transparent channel where communication and organic conversation can take place.

Via eMarketer