Social networking sites are as influential on Hongkongers' purchasing decision as traditional media, said Ketchum Hong Kong that recently sponsored the BlogHer 2011 Social Media Matters Study.

The study was fielded by BlogHer, the participatory news, entertainment and information network for women online, and Nielsen Company, in the US, Brazil, Germany and Hong Kong, said Ketchum. A total of 387 people over the age of 18 in Hong Kong were polled in an online survey conducted in March 2011.

According to the survey results announced Monday, 50 percent of respondents had made a purchase based on a blog recommendation. Blogs, message boards and social networks 952 percent) ranked only a few percentage points behind TV (58 percent) in the media formats influencing purchasing decisions.

On a weekly basis, 77 percent of Hongkongers surveyed were reading blogs, 52 percent were writing blogs and 92 percent were engaged on Facebook indicating a significantly higher level of online participation than other markets surveyed around the world, said Ketchum.

In the US, 87 percent of those surveyed used Facebook weekly, 72 percent in Brazil and 58 percent in Germany, survey results indicated.

Social media is also playing a role in addressing challenges to work-life balance in Hong Kong -- a place well known for its work hard play hard lifestyle. 68 percent of those surveyed spend the same or more time with friends online than they do in person.

"When face time is being squeezed, people switch online to share stories, gossip, tips and advice," said Simeon Mellalieu, general manager Ketchum Hong Kong. "Supporting this trend is smartphone penetration in Hong Kong that doubles the global average. Teenagers, businessmen and grandparents are using even two minutes of downtime to stay connected and share experiences with friends and loved ones."