Monday, 23 September 2013

Consumer Behaviour - Time spent on social media….

According to a recent survey by Experian 27% of the time spent online by those in the US is spent on a social network, equating to 16 minutes of every hour. With sites such as Facebook having 1.15 billion active accounts and Twitter with over 550 million accounts, the potential time spent on social media websites is vast. This poses the question of what these people are doing whilst social networking and who are they are choosing to interact with?

Who do people connect with on social media?
Studies have found that young adults tend to use social networks as a way of connecting and maintaining relationships with people who are already in their lives, often family or friends who they haven’t seen in a while but who they do have an existing offline relationship with.  This time is mostly spent exchanging news, posting information, pictures, links and events with the majority of people who use Facebook spending their time posting on walls. In a world where we are constantly sharing information such as this, it provides a valuable and receptive audience for companies to spread new information quickly and effectively.  With the number of people who use social media websites increasing year on year, it is a constantly growing audience. Although social networking sites are mostly used as a method of connecting with friends and family studies have also shown that social networking sites are used as a way to use up free time and as a method of avoiding boredom.

Morrison & Foerster
Social media has also been found to be an influence on consumer behaviour – the actions which are taken by individuals, groups and organisations when purchasing and using products and services. Social media websites can therefore be used as a method for brands to connect with their consumers and to increase the awareness of their brand among a new audience influencing how a consumer makes purchases.  It has been found that social media has a positive effect on whether people are likely to recommend a brand to others, to trial new products and to stay loyal to the brand, with social media acting to turn one-off buyers into repeat purchasers of their product. Four out of five consumers said that they would purchase something from a brand more often in the future after being exposed to a brand’s social media presence and 83% of consumers exposed to social media would trial a brand’s product, showing the power of social media for companies hoping to market their brands.

The consumers also benefit from this as it provides a method for people to connect with certain brands in order to hear their news and get discounts and promotions whilst providing the consumers with a voice which otherwise might not be heard. Statistics show that 58% of users who ‘like’ a brand on Facebook will do so because they are a customer, and by connecting with the brand through social media they will be more aware of what the company has to offer.

Not only can social media help consumer brands, but it can also be advantageous to companies hoping to build a professional network. Sites like LinkedIn can build awareness of different companies and individual professionals who can connect with previous or current colleagues and help them to improve their job search. For instance, professionals are signing up to join LinkedIn at a rate of more than two new members per second. Of these professionals that have joined the LinkedIn network, over 30 million are students and recent college graduates – making up LinkedIn’s fastest-growing demographic.

What do you think? 
In what ways do you choose to use social media? And for what reasons?


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