Peer referral or review carries more influence than ads, claims Deloitte
In their third  annual State of the Media Democracy report, Deloitte have said that reviews found in social media influence our buying decisions more than advertising. 53% of respondents said that they had decided against buying a particular product due to a negative review online.

Only 4% of respondents responded positively when asked if advertisements on social platforms influenced their buying decisions, compared to a massive 72% who said they didn't.

Brand interaction is China’s second most popular social media activity
An eMarketer report has shown that 265 million internet users will access social media networks at least once a month in 2011, a 28% increase compared to 2010. Following and 'friending' official product or brand profiles is the nation’s second most popular online activity, a statistic that plays neatly into the hands of digital marketers looking to capitalise on China’s high growth digital domain.

But Mike Froggatt, the report’s author, is right to caution: “although social networks in China will increase reach, sites often have very specific audiences - choosing how and where to target these audiences can determine whether social media campaigns are successful or flop".

Google search becomes more social

Google have added a number of social search features. First, a feature that prioritises content created by friends or people close to you in the real world over other third party content. Secondly, if one of your friends has shared a link on a social platform and you do a relevant search, then that link will be boosted up the rankings, along with a little picture of your friend and a note to let you know they shared it. They've also made it possible to consolidate various social media accounts through your Google account privately as well as publicly. And Google will now search automatically to find accounts that they think might be yours, but that aren't yet consolidated.

Facebook continues to lead in terms of sales conversion value
ChompOn has released data comparing the values of various social media actions in relation to Groupon-style eCommerce deal sites. In line with the findings of a study we featured on the blog last week, Facebook came out tops, with a Facebook 'share' being valued at a strong $14, compared to a tweet at just $5.

We agree with TechCrunch though, when they say the results are "a bit tenuous  and anecdotal. And it's important to note that this analysis does not capture the long-term value of customer over time".

Twitter's leaked pitch to advertisers
Twitter are officially on the profit warpath. Despite having been slow to capitalise on the massive popularity of the platform - which in retrospect now seems like a good idea - they are looking to earn $100 million of revenue in 2011. No mean feat, but Twitter have been proactive in their attempts so far, pitching to agencies like us on the virtues of their promoted tweets and promoted accounts, and advising major firms on how best to use these tools.

StumbleUpon hits 500 million pageviews a month milestone
Last month, StumbleUpon got one over on Facebook in terms of social media traffic generation. This month, they announced that they had passed more than 500 million page views per month. The site is, in some ways, an unlikely victor, having remained largely unchanged since its inception. Just goes to show that even in the digital age, sometimes the old adage; 'if it ain't broke, don't fix it', still rings true.

TV reconsiders its relationship with social media
Every week people are tuning into their favourite shows and tweeting simultaneously; watching and discussing in real time. It's taken them a while, but TV execs are now cottoning onto the fact and trying their best to capitalise on this trend.

Fashion retailer creates its own branded social network
UNIQLO have developed a social platform that lets their customers upload and compare images of themselves with other UNIQLO shoppers, commenting, complimenting and (hopefully not)  criticising on one another's dress sense and choice of UNIQLO products.

The network, called UNIQLOOKS, has employed a team of moderators to ensure that the commentary is constructive and offers customers the chance to see their range 'in action', and to appreciate the tastes of other UNIQLO shoppers.

Oreo goes for Guinness 'likes' record
Oreo tried to cement its reputation as the world’s favourite cookie last week, as it attempted to beat the Guinness World Record for number of likes in 24 hours. Oreo set the bar at 50,000 – a figure that had, ironically, been met by Bieber only a few hours before when his post, “happy Valentine’s Day”, elicited 54,853 ‘likes’ from his fans. In something of an anti-climax for cookie lovers the world over, on the day, Oreo was actually toppled by Lil’ Wayne, who snuck in and mustered 200,000 likes in just 45 minutes, doubling that figure shortly thereafter and later breaking 500,000. Unfortunately, it's still unclear whether or not Lil' Wayne formally registered his attempt with Guinness and as such, whether he can receive the title. But either way, a crummy result for Oreo...

Swatch use real time Twitter promotion at New York Fashion Week party
At a New York Fashion Week party, Swatch dressed a model up in an outfit made entirely of Swatch's pastel coloured watches. Party goers were then asked to tweet #swatchgirl and @swatchus to receive one of the aforementioned timepieces.

By 1:30, the dress was off of the girl and onto the wrists of the attendants, leaving the model - somewhat belittlingly referred to as 'Swatch girl' - in only a branded sheath. Swatch estimate that the promotion had a reach of 400,000 - although how much of this was simply party-goers wanting to see what was under the watches, is for you to decide...

ChildLine traffic up 900% thanks to Facebook
Last week, ChildLine saw a 900% increase in site visits, with 73% of this traffic coming from Facebook.

This put ChildLine ahead of their third sector peers in terms of traffic, with 13% of all traffic to charity sites going to ChildLine.

Toyota's rapid response to potential PR debacle
We all love a happy ending, and so to round off this week's Mashup let's look at Toyota's response to what could have turned into a fairly messy brand crisis, but turned out to work right into their hands.

@crissy, a popular mum blogger, wrote that she had been offered a $10 voucher by mommynetworks.org to spread positive word of mouth about Toyota via her blog. Although mommynetworks.org never claimed to have any official relationship with Toyota, it was heavily implicit in the wording of the email. For this reason, when the rightly peeved @crissy took to Twitter to bring this dubious behaviour to light, Toyota came to bear the brunt of the public response.

Quickly - as tends to be the case with these things - word spread, and soon #toyotafail was setting itself up to be another in a long list of late or poorly managed corporate responses to a brand crisis taking place on a social media platform. Thankfully, Toyota was monitoring the situation as it unfolded and nipped the situation in the bud by respond appropriately.

As it turned out, there was absolutely no contracted affiliation between Toyota and mommynetworks.org and Toyota were absolved of all responsibility - meaning they could Corolla on to the next challenge they may face.