More than 65% of food shoppers use social media, the new research suggests, but they would be apprehensive about following food or food retail brands unless there was an incentive.
At the same time, 21% of people said they would use social media, such as Twitter or Facebook, to find vouchers or other offer codes.
James Johnson, lead analyst at Evolution Insights, which produced the research, said brands were increasingly using social media "to engage consumers through conversation, and to build emotional loyalty".
"But our research finds that shoppers would be more likely to follow brands on Facebook, if it led to them receiving the latest coupons and special offers."
The research also suggested that smartphones were playing an increasingly important role.
Johnson said 37% of UK grocery shoppers now owned a smartphone.
"One in five say they use the device to find grocery offers and coupons, and a similar number use it to access a social network."
Demand for digital grocery coupons is increasing, with 81% of those surveyed saying they would be interested in receiving coupons and offers for food and grocery using the internet or mobile device.
Integrating social media with voucher codes would tap into the consumer demand for a bargain, and drive traffic.
Evolution Insights surveyed 1,546 people and conducted focus groups to compile its Digital Shopper Marketing 2010 survey.
Consumer desire for a bargain was demonstrated last week, when an offer for multiple Clubcard points at Tesco crashed the Tesco Clubcard website.
Further research suggests brands do not integrate social media well with email.
This article was first published on marketingmagazine.co.uk