"The Influence of Advertising Through Social Media": A Research Exploration Project by Trinity Hall's HUMM Institute and Holy Cross Academy

Note: This experiential learning activity was introduced through Trinity Hall’s HUMM Institute, an entrepreneurial ecosystem intentionally designed to encourage young women to explore the business of design through an entrepreneurial lens. This collaborative exercise conducted in joint partnership with a number of students from Holy Cross Academy in Rumson, NJ culminated with the following article highlighting the group’s qualitative research findings on a topic centered around the business of design and social media. Our mission at the HUMM Institute is to produce a curriculum that will inspire students to connect and engage with their school community and beyond to support socially-impacted work that is human-centered and can promote positive change in the world.
- Kali Lambrou and Erin Straine, HUMM Institute

The Influence of Advertising Through Social Media

What do you do when you first wake up? If you said check social media, you would be included in the many people around the world who also do this. Whether you are a teenager who uses TikTok or an adult reconnecting with old friends on Facebook, we are constantly being influenced to consume. Regardless of the app used the most, social media persistently feeds users advertisements, either directly from brands or more recently through influencers.

With the popularity of social media, online influencers have become more prominent. Influencers promote brands in a more subtle way than direct ads by simply showing their followers the material items they receive from a company, such as makeup and clothes. The most successful influencers have large following counts, which help them promote their personal brands and paid partnerships. This marketing tactic is incredibly successful because when young viewers see a popular influencer, they are likely to buy the product being recommended to them. When social media influencers promote brands online, they often do not mention the word “ad” but instead tag the company with whom they are working. By doing this, it appears what the viewer is watching is not an advertisement when in reality it is, and they are most likely being persuaded with this more subtle tactic.

Apps, such as TikTok and Instagram, personalize users’ browsing data in order to maximize the likelihood of a consumer to purchase the product shown in the ad. Brands now allocate marketing budgets to include social media-based and influencer marketing in addition to traditional methods of television and magazine advertising, with the strategy that this modern style will be effective in increasing sales.

The purpose of this research study was to determine how people are influenced through advertising with social media. Through gathering data and examining how effective marketing tactics were at convincing social media users to purchase products, the HUMM Institute at Trinity Hall assessed how this influence on consumers impacts their resulting online purchasing.


Members from the HUMM Institute at Trinity Hall collected data from members of the Trinity Hall and Holy Cross Academy community through a survey. Over the course of two months, our hypothesis was tested on real-life consumers. Clear data was needed to make a statistically-based statement on the impact of advertisement on social media and the techniques companies use to catalyze the “add to cart” rate and to solidify the “buy”. The survey was sent out via Google Form created through the collaboration of the HUMM Institute at Trinity Hall and 12 students from Holy Cross Academy in Rumson, NJ. The survey consisted of ten questions which varied from multiple choice to open response questions. The survey received a total of 87 responses.


The results for the multiple choice questions in the survey are as follows:
  • When asked, “Which type of social media is best for ads?” 43.4% claimed TikTok was the best, 32.5% chose Instagram, 12% chose YouTube, and 12.1% claimed another social media platform.
  • 53% of people have recommended a product to others from a social media platform and 47% have not.
  • Over 90% of surveyed people said they have seen an ad on social media, mainly on TikTok and Instagram. Of this number, only about 50% followed through and purchased the product being promoted in the advertisement.
  • More than 90% of those surveyed said that influencers have a major impact in promoting and advertising products.
  • 73.8% of respondents are followers of influencers, allowing the influencers to gain popularity and increase their impact.
  • 72% of respondents have screenshotted products they plan to buy in the future.
  • Almost 53% of those surveyed had recommended a product to others from a social media platform whereas about 47% had not, showing that social media allows new and upcoming products to reach the surface level and gain popularity through user sharing.

After gathering the answers to the open response questions on the survey, a few findings and
answers stood out:
  • When asked “How do people use social media, particularly TikTok to advertise?,” one participant answered, “There are many ways people on TikTok advertise a product. Three ways they can do this are creating a video and posting it on their account, paying an online influencer to talk about their product, or even paying a company like TikTok to put their ads up.”
  • When asked “How do companies use TikTok to advertise their products and grab the attention and interest of viewers?” answers from participants included advertisements with features such as being colorful, funny, and having influencers or celebrities promoting the products.
  • Participants said they would be more likely to buy the product an influencer promotes if they have a large following or if the viewer likes them.
  • One participant noted they will purchase an item if the influencer “talks highly about the products they are selling.”
These responses show examples of ways people are exposed to advertisements through social media.

The HUMM Institute used current research methods to conduct research on the use of social media by teenagers. Surveys are a great way to elicit valuable information that can translate into statistical data and help consumers make informed decisions. The results of the survey also helped us formulate an actionable goal to help users maneuver through the different marketing platforms offered through social media. Our student researchers concluded that while social media does have its upsides, sometimes taking a step away from all of the ads and colorful pictures can be helpful to one’s own influence in one’s life. Reflecting on the information that is readily available to us and understanding how that information relates to us as individuals may be a way to maneuver this rapidly evolving consumer purchasing landscape.
Collaborative Contributors and Acknowledgements:
Thank you to Mrs. Lambrou and Mrs Straine for your continued guidance and support. We appreciate your
dedication and introducing us to the extreme possibilities surrounding active entrepreneurship and the business of design.

Trinity Hall HUMM Institute:
AnneMarie Brunetti ‘24
Rachel Gardner ‘24
Lily Marzullo ‘24
Sophia Memtsoudis ‘24
Grace Merkler ‘24
Emma Grace Pedone ‘24
Sophia Ramos ‘24
Maddie Walker ‘24
Special thanks to the students and faculty of Holy Cross Academy who were key collaborative partners with the development and execution of our research and data collection. Names and grades listed below.
Faculty facilitators:
Ms. Amy Evans (STEM Teacher-Upper School Coordinator)
Mr. Christopher McCarrick (Principal)
Student participants:
Caelin Burke (7th)
Chloe Burke (7th)
Davida Cumbo (8th)
Pietra Cumbo (7th)
Rose Johnston (8th)
Clarissa McGuinness (7th)
Sophia Musella (8th)
Margaret Nitka (8th)
Giuliana Schiano (8th)
Grace Smith (8th)
Ennis Straine (7th)
Sophia Trocchio (8th)

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