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Social network usage survey

Posted by Michael Bloch in web marketing (Wednesday April 11, 2007 )

33% of Internet users are using social networking sites that include user-generated content to assist in making purchase decisions according to a recent survey.

To clarify; the iProspect/JupiterResearch survey defined a social networking web site as one that allowed for user-generated content which could include comments, reviews, feedback, ratings, or user profile pages; so this means that sites such as Amazon were included in the study.

Other key findings:

– The big three search engines still attract the majority of searchers, so while social search is important, it won’t be anytime soon that online businesses can afford to ignore “traditional” search engines – especially given the number of visitors are driven to social sites by Yahoo, Google and MSN.

– The most popular social networking sites are visited by around 25% of Internet users at least once a month

– Approximately 20% of visitors do not perform a search once they arrive at a social search engine; likely due to bookmarks and major traditional engines having been the original source of the visit, i.e. the user is directed to the content they seek.

– Visitors arrive at social networking sites via direct navigation/bookmarking, Google, Yahoo! and email links; in that order

Harking back to the importance of social networking sites and purchase decisions; I know that before any purchase of physical goods such as electronics, I certainly run searches for feedback and genuine product reviews.

It’s always a very useful exercise, for example, I recently saved about $400 on a new piece of electronic equipment; a model I probably wouldn’t have purchased without having seen good writeups from other (real) users.

Given the level of this sort of activity, it’s another reason why businesses need to keep track of the online buzz about their goods and services.

The iProspect report also states that marketers should see negative comments about their businesses, goods and services on social networking sites as an opportunity rather than a threat. By openly and honestly addressing each negative comment in a sensitive way, taking on board the feedback and acting on it; hearts and minds can be won over.

Of course, not all that applies to the more colorful and strange comments you might come across. Every, shall we say, “reality challenged” person in the world has a high speed broadband connection and can type at 120 words per minute it seems at times. Still, “out there” comments do need to be handled with care; others will judge your business by the way you handle these people.

Read more of the iProspect Social Networking User Behavior survey

Read more of my posts on social networking


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