We follow social media trends pretty closely. Over the years, I come across research and pick up little bits of information. The problem is that I then forget the exact figures and where I found them. I end up spending time digging around looking for something that I already know. So, I decided I’d gather some important pieces of recent research into one place so I could find it easily. I thought it might be useful to others, so here it is. My great big list of Social Media Research.
This is pretty long and includes 3 sections:
- Social Media Usage and Growth
- Social Media and Conversions
- How Marketers Use Social Media and What Works
Social Media Usage and Growth
Social Networking Usage Hits 65% of Online Adults
According to Pew Internet in August 2011,
- 65% of online adults use a social networking site. 43% daily.
- Of daily activities only email (61%) and search engines (59%) are used more frequently.
- Pace of growth wise, in feb 2005 only 8% of Internet users and 5% of all adults said they used them.
Social network users were asked for one word to describe their experiences. The resulting word cloud really tells a story:
There is also information in this study about the changing demographics of social use if that’s of interest to you.
“The graying of social networking sites continues, but the oldest users are still far less likely to be making regular use of these tools,” said Mary Madden, Senior Research Specialist and co-author of the report. “While seniors are testing the waters, many Baby Boomers are beginning to make a trip to the social media pool part of their daily routine.”
The Social Habit 2011
Conducted by Edison Research and Arbitron, The Social Habit studies consumer adoption of the Internet and new technologies. This data is from May 2011:
- 52% of Americans (12+) have a profile on one or more social networks
- Facebook 51% of Americans (12+).
- Twitter is as familiar to Americans as Facebook (with 92% and 93% familiarity, respectively).
- however, Twitter usage stands at just 8% of Americans 12+.
- One in four social network users knowingly follow brands, products or services on social networks.
- For those who use these sites and services several times per day, this figure increases to 43%.
Jay Baer wrote a summary of the above research on his blog Convince and Convert back in May. It is interesting for Jay’s commentary on what he calls Super Socials (use social media several times a day).
Understanding this group is really important to your online marketing. They are:
- More likely to be on Twitter
- More likely to use Smartphones
- More likely to interact with brands
It is important to be aware that Twitter’s adoption is tiny and it’s also important to understand that Twitter users can be very important to your marketing strategy.
Psychology of Twitter Users
28% of Americans use mobile or location based services of some kind.
This report from Pew Internet was released in September 2011. It assessed 3 things:
- Get directions or recommendations based on current location – 28% of cell owners and 23% of all adults.
- Check in to geosocial services such as Foursquare – 5% of cell owners and 4% of all adults
- Set up social media services to automatically tag posts with their location – 9% of internet users, 7% of all adults.
Kathryn Zickuhr, Pew Internet Project research specialist summarises things quite well in this quote:
“Americans are not currently all that eager to share explicitly their location on social media sites, but they are taking advantage of their phones’ geolocation capabilities in other ways,”
“Smartphone owners are using their phones to get fast access to location-relevant information on-the-go.”
Social Media and Conversions
Consumers Say They are Willing to go From Social to Shopper
The Social Commerce Study was released in May 2011 by Shop.org, comScore and Social Shopping Labs. Here are some of the headlines:
- 42% have followed a retailer through Facebook Twitter or a blog.
- 58% to find deals
- 49% to keep up to date on products
- 39% for information on contests and events
- 56% of Facebook users say they have clicked through to a retailer’s website
- 67% of Twitter users have clicked through
- One third of shoppers would purchase directly from Facebook (35%) or Twitter (32%)
That’s what people say they do but what do they actually do?
Social Media Has Almost No Effect on Online Retail Purchases
This research was conducted by Forrester Research and GSI Commerce based on data from online retailers gathered in November – December of 2010.
The study concludes that:
- Social media rarely leads directly to purchases online – Less than 2% of orders were the result of shoppers coming from a social network.
- Email and search advertising were much more effective at turning browsers into buyers.
- Social media was more effective for distributing news about short term deals (in which case 5% to 7% of purchases are influenced by social media).
What Traffic Sources Generate Conversions?
A couple of weeks ago we covered research from See Why showing email (67.37%) and direct visits (23.69%) driving the massive majority of e-commerce conversions. Please, please read the “Last Touch Attribution Sucks!” section of this post. It is really important to understand that both email and direct visits are channels massively dominated by return visits. They are hugely valuable but you need to address where these visitors FIRST found your site as well.
How Marketers Use Social Media and What Works
Social Media Marketing Lifts Organic Search Conversions
If I needed a reason to use Social Media, this would be it. This post from August last year covers some really useful stuff on the relationship between search and social. The post is based on last year’s Marketing Sherpa Search Benchmarking Report. The new one ought to be out by now but the analysis here is worthwhile.
Marketers working in social media reported a 27% conversion rate on average from organic search traffic. Marketers not working in social media reported 17%. Massive difference. Social media increases the effectiveness of your SEO in terms of driving conversions.
“More marketers said SEO, rather than social media, was a “very effective” way to:
- Increase brand or product awareness (42% vs. 37%)
- Increase website traffic (57% vs. 33%)
- Increase lead generation (35% vs. 18%)
- Increase offline sales revenue (17% vs. 10%)
- Increase online sales revenue (26% vs. 9%)
On the flipside, more marketers said social media was a “very effective” way to:
- Improve brand or product reputation (37% vs. 29%)
- Improve public relations (36% vs. 27%)
This leads me to a hypothesis: marketers who engage in SEO and social media have 58.8% higher conversion rates for organic traffic because their social media work has increased trust in their brands and products.”
Social Media Marketing Industry Report 2011
Social Media Examiner’s Social Media Marketing Industry Report gives great insight into how marketers are using social media. The report covers areas such as the time commitment, what social media services are used etc. This year’s report found:
- Marketers place a high value on social media (90% indicating it is important for their business)
- 58% are using social media for 6 hours or more per week and 34% invest 11 or more hours per week.
- Video marketing is on the rise
- Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and blogs were the top 4 social media tools used. In that order.
The full text of the report is downloadable at Social Media Examiner. One of the things I like most about this survey is that it is annual. You can compare to previous years and get a feel for developments in the industry. This year the report asked marketers what question about marketing with social media did they most want answered. The number one question:
- How do I measure the effect of social media marketing on my business?
I don’t know whether that’s a sign that marketers are plowing into social media with no idea whether it is providing a return, or simply them seeking ways to prove it to management and the bean counters? Either way, this section of the report is interesting.
Email, Social Media and Search (SEO and PPC) Budgets to Increase
This survey from StrongMail was conducted at the end of 2010. It showed businesses planning to increase or maintain their budgets. The most popular places they planned to increase spend were Email marketing, Social Media and Search. The most popular places they planned to decrease spend were Direct Mail, Tradeshows and events and Advertising. I should note that this survey was conducted through Zoomerang and I’m not sure who they surveyed. If an email marketing company surveys it’s followers for example, wouldn’t this be what we’d expect to hear?
Technorati: The State of the Blogosphere
Technorati’s annual State of the Blogosphere research was last updated in late 2010. Blogging persists. Business bloggers see an impact on their business and 56% of bloggers plan to blog more frequently. Only 14% said that their blog had not yet had an impact on their business.
Hopefully that gives a decent cross section of worthwhile research data. I’m sure I’ve missed some very useful stuff and I might add some if I come across it. Feel free to offer suggestions if you think there is anything missing here.