Brands may need to rethink their social media strategies, with half of Britons reporting being turned off social networks due to the “sheer volume” of advertising.

In a survey of 2000 respondents by Lithium technologies, over 1000 said the amount of advertising resulted in them cutting down their usage of sites like Twitter and Facebook, or even stopping altogether.

On the contrary, the vast majority (80%) preferred to connect with “actual people” on social channels.

It’s not a shocking result, but the findings should be a wake-up call to advertisers, says Lithium, which suggests brands should use social networking sites primarily as engagement channels for “meaningful conversation”.

That’s opposed to “mass broadcasts” to large follower bases. These campaigns could be largely falling on deaf ears, as 67% of UK adults don’t like being targeted, according to the survey.

Instead, consumers cite the words of celebrities and peer reviews as the main motivation to make a purchase.

Peers & influencers

Four in ten (40%) between 35-40 years old trusted celebrities a “fair amount”, up from just over a quarter (26%) in 2014.

Sites like Instagram and Pinterest appear to be making a glimpse into the lives of influencers more accessible, but the real value seems to be in positive recommendation from online social communities and product reviews.

Behind advice from friends and family, these are cited as the most trusted sources of information. Seven in ten (70%) UK adults claim they will not buy a product that doesn’t boast positive online reviews.

“Social media can be a powerful tool for brands looking to establish trust and engage with their customers online,” said Fabrice Etienne, EMEA marketing director for Lithium Technologies

“But brands need to be aware that direct advertising and pushing information broadcast style on social media isn’t effective. It’s also important to understand who holds the most influence, where their customers go to do their research, and which sources they trust most.”