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McKinley’s Take: Internet Users Turn to Social Media to Seek One Another, Not Brands or Products

“A new report by Knowledge Networks gives advertisers, marketers and researchers a clearer picture of the motivations and attitudes of social media users – with sometimes-surprising results. While 83% of the Internet population (ages 13 to 54) participates in social media – 47% on a weekly basis – less than 5% of social media users regularly turn to these sites for guidance on purchase decisions in any of nine product/service categories. In addition, only 16% of social media users say they are more likely to buy from companies that advertise on social sites.1

The study indirectly states that the relationship between social media marketing and advertising is not as fruitful as once believed, and that only a small percentage of Internet users are looking to social media for purchasing advice. A company’s knee-jerk reaction may be to throw up the white flag and deem social media as an unimportant facet of their marketing plan. McKinley’s knee-jerk reaction? Hold on.

It may be that only 5% of social media users regularly turn to these sites for guidance on purchasing decisions, but what about those that happen to stumble upon these websites and uncover useful information or a new product/service? While they may have initially been using a site for other purposes, your company’s presence on one of these sites may make an impact on a future purchase with this person (whether it be conscious or subconscious). Many times, users might find something and pass it along to friends or coworkers who also find it interesting, that’s the viral piece. We are not sure the study could account for tracking of viral marketing. We suspect that the indirect benefits of a social media presence far exceed that 5%.

The good news is that 83% of internet users are using these sites! Think of all the opportunities for branding and customer relationship building. Did we mention that building a social media presence ranges in cost from being free to very inexpensive? Maybe users don’t turn to these websites specifically for purchasing goods or services, but they are going there, and your company needs to be seen!

At the end of its press release, Knowledge Works acknowledged high hopes for social media’s future. And we couldn’t agree more, “The fact that they are using social media more now than a year ago is a strong indicator that the influence of these sites and features is here to stay.2

Knowledge Networks is the consumer information company for the 21st century, helping companies grow by delivering consumer insights and research that speak directly to client business issues.

1 Knowledge Networks, INTERNET USERS TURN TO SOCIAL MEDIA TO SEEK ONE ANOTHER, NOT BRANDS OR PRODUCTS, 2009, http://www.knowledgenetworks.com/news/releases/2009/052009_social-media.html (May 2009)

2 Knowledge Networks, INTERNET USERS TURN TO SOCIAL MEDIA TO SEEK ONE ANOTHER, NOT BRANDS OR PRODUCTS, 2009, http://www.knowledgenetworks.com/news/releases/2009/052009_social-media.html (May 2009)

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by McKinley Marketing Partners