7 Social Media Trends for Consumers: New Research

social media researchAre you wondering what the changing social trends are for consumers?

If so, look no further.

In Nielsen and McKinsey’s Social Media Report, consumers were surveyed to discover how they use social networks.

Here are seven key findings from that report.

#1: More Time Invested in Mobile

The survey found that consumers are increasingly looking to their smartphones and tablets to access social media.

While the PC is still the most widely used device when it comes to social media consumption, the study found that time spent on mobile apps and mobile websites accounted for a 63% increase (compared to 2011) in total time spent.

Additionally, 43% of users said they use smartphones to access social media, while 16% connect using a tablet.

social is mobile

Mobile and particularly apps are where people are spending their social networking time.

Key Takeaway: When it comes to consuming social content, it’s all about mobile. For marketers, that means that mobile has to be your top content priority this year.

If you haven’t done so already, here are some ideas to get you started:

#2: Pinterest Usage Continues to Rise

Pinterest continues to experience exponential growth since its launch in 2011. The platform had the highest increase in audience and time spent of any social network across all devices such as PC, mobile web and apps.

spotlight on pinterest

Pinterest continues to be the most popular social networking site on the Internet.

In addition, a May 2012 Harvard Business Review article titled, “Moving customers from pinning to purchase,” states that:

“Pinterest users reported a surprisingly high correlation between pinning and subsequent purchasing: more than 1 in 5 Pinterest users has pinned an item that they later purchased. In the social world, this is a high conversion rate.”

Key Takeaway: As a marketer, remember that product photography is more important than ever when trying to persuade Pinterest shoppers to pin and buy your hottest-looking items. Capitalize on their shopping experience and make your profile as creative and visually engaging as possible.

Also, don’t forget to engage with people who have pinned your items to see if you could nudge them into buying something!

#3: Social Networking Generates Positive Sentiments

One of the most interesting findings in this survey was that 76% of participants said they experienced positive feelings after engaging in social networking.

Some of the words used to describe how they felt were: informed, energized, excited, connected and amused. However, 21% reported negative sentiments after social networking; examples are overwhelmed, anxious and wasted time. 24% remained neutral.

social networking sentiments

Consumers generally feel good after engaging in social media.

Key Takeaway: Social media is saturated with sentiment-rich data. Every update, tweet, blog comment or online review is a critical source of data that can inform your CRM program. As a marketer, you should be very interested in gathering and analyzing sentiment data to see if your social messages are producing the desirable outcomes you’re looking for.

#4: Twitter Drives Social TV

Twitter has emerged as the most powerful driver of ‘social TV’ interaction. That means when people are watching the Super Bowl, American Idol or the elections, they are simultaneously using Twitter to share their thoughts and experiences with friends.

In June 2012, a third of active Twitter users tweeted about TV-related content, which was up from 26% at the beginning of the year.

social tv

Tweeting while watching TV is becoming a very popular social phenomenon.

Key Takeaway: Social TV is still a new concept for marketers. However, considering that an average of 43 minutes are spent each day watching TV (HubSpot), and that many of those viewers are then sharing their experiences online, marketers should find ways to align any TV advertising with their online strategies (e.g., incorporating hashtags or tweetable sound bites in their TV commercials). This prolongs the conversation about brands beyond the TV, while allowing for extended word-of-mouth marketing.

#5: Social Care is the New Customer Care

Social care is a way for companies to provide regular customer service through social media platforms. The study revealed that one in three social media users prefers social care to contacting a company by phone.

Consumers use a variety of channels for social care. For example, they are most likely to comment or ask a question about a company’s products or services on the company’s Facebook page (29%), on their own personal Facebook profile (28%), on official company blogs (15%), on Twitter (personal handle – no mention of company, 14%) and on Twitter (company’s handle, 13%).

social care vs telephone

Social care is transforming the way brands respond to customers.

Key Takeaway: Social media has conditioned consumers to get immediate feedback. As a marketer, the risk of failing to meet such high expectations is not just losing customers, but having negative comments about your brand blasted around the user’s network and their friends’ networks. If you can get social care right, you will create a wide gap between your brand and your competition.

#6: Mixed Feelings about Social Ads

Another interesting finding was how people react to social ads. While 33% of people surveyed find ads on social networks to be annoying, 26% are more likely to pay attention to an ad posted by a friend.

Generally a Like is the most common action taken after seeing a social ad (26%), followed by a share (15%) and a product purchase (14%). As far as demographics go, the study found that Asian-American consumers were the most likely to respond positively to social ads, while white consumers were the most likely to be turned off by social media advertising.

not listening

A lot of people find social ads annoying, especially if the ads are not relevant to them. Image source: iStockphoto.

Key Takeaway: Because advertising on social media is more annoying than other digital areas, marketers should proceed with caution and make sure their ads are highly relevant and targeted. On the bright side, many people don’t mind social ads if they’re tailored to suit personal tastes and interests. This presents a great opportunity for marketers to raise brand visibility.

#7: Social Listening a Key Consumer Activity

Social media is transforming the way consumers around the globe make purchasing decisions. Consumers are using social media to listen and learn about other consumers’ experiences (70%); find more information about brands, products and services (65%); and compliment brands (53%).

social listening

Most social media users are listening to other people's experiences.

Key takeaway: We tend to think of social listening as something only marketers and research analysts do. However, it’s interesting to see that consumers are also active listeners. This is an opportunity for marketers to educate consumers through compelling content, improve customer experiences (using social care) and maintain strong customer relationships to uphold a positive brand image.

Your Turn

What do you think? Which of these trends did you find most enlightening? Please share your thoughts and comments in the box below.

Image from iStockPhoto.

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About the Author, Patricia Redsicker

Patricia Redsicker writes research reviews for Social Media Examiner. She helps business owners craft content that sells. Her blog provides healthcare industry content marketing advice. Other posts by »




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