Consumer behavior has evolved rapidly in recent years, and as traditional media marketing tools such as print and television continue to return flat growth at best, the internet is looking like an increasingly attractive alternative for brands. Meanwhile use of social media networks, such as LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook and MySpace, is growing, with much of the growth over the past year attributable to older users becoming involved online.
A new social media study conducted by Knowledge Networks and MediaPost Communications called The Faces of Social Media interviewed 2,242 people online aged 13-80 across the United States. It found that 15 percent of those surveyed would be more inclined to buy brands that advertised through social media – equivalent to more than 30 million people nationwide. And a quarter said they would be more inclined to find out more about a brand that is advertised on social media sites.
Chief strategy officer of Knowledge Networks Patricia Graham said: “We have learned that as social media usage has become nearly universal, its influence on inclination to purchase cannot be ignored.”
The reach of online advertising is expanding too. Although the study found that younger consumers aged 13-31 were still the biggest social media users – and their usage grew from 84 to 91 percent over the past year – those in the Baby Boomer generation (aged 46-65) took up social media in large numbers during 2010, with usage growing from 54 to 76 percent on 2009. Among Generation X, defined as those aged 32-45, social media usage also grew, from 70 to 85 percent.
Overall, users were not resistant to the idea of advertising on social media platforms, with 59 percent agreeing that “ads are a fair price to pay for social media sites/features”.
Another key finding of the study was that users of mobile applications tended to be more responsive to social media advertising. Of users aged 13-54 with apps on their phone, 70 percent agreed that ads were a fair price to pay for social media, and 32 percent said they were more inclined to purchase brands that have marketing messages in the app, compared to 15 percent of users as a whole.