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.

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , ,

About the Author, Patricia Redsicker

Patricia Redsicker writes research reviews for Social Media Examiner. She is the Social Media Manager at US Pharmacopeia, a public standards setting organization. Follow her on Twitter at @predsicker. Other posts by »




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  • http://www.EntrepreneurOnFire.com/ John Lee Dumas

    Interesting insights on social media trends Patricia. I find #6 Mixed feelings about social ads most useful and enlightening. Although, I am making sure that my ads are targeted and highly relevant, it still helps to see this kind of advice from you. 

    Have a wonderful Wednesday everyone! 

  • http://www.EntrepreneurOnFire.com/ John Lee Dumas

    Interesting insights on social media trends Patricia. I find #6 Mixed feelings about social ads most useful and enlightening. Although, I am making sure that my ads are targeted and highly relevant, it still helps to see this kind of advice from you. 

    Have a wonderful Wednesday everyone! 

  • myspalmer

    Hiya Patricia,

    Aome surprising and not so surprising insights here for sure. Social ads, not so surprising, The positive feelings analysis though is interesting. I’ll definitely be looking into that one.

    Thanks for a research Patricia!

  • myspalmer

    Hiya Patricia,

    Aome surprising and not so surprising insights here for sure. Social ads, not so surprising, The positive feelings analysis though is interesting. I’ll definitely be looking into that one.

    Thanks for a research Patricia!

  • predsicker

    Thanks as always for your input John. I agree about #6. It’s interesting to see the macro effect of social ads especially since we’re so used to evaluating them on a personal level. Thank you for reading :)

  • predsicker

    Thanks as always for your input John. I agree about #6. It’s interesting to see the macro effect of social ads especially since we’re so used to evaluating them on a personal level. Thank you for reading :)

  • predsicker

    You’re welcome, thanks for your thoughts.

  • predsicker

    You’re welcome, thanks for your thoughts.

  • Keith Jasper

    CMO’s take note!

  • Keith Jasper

    CMO’s take note!

  • Ellen

    Thanks for this summary. Will use it in a client preso soon (and give you credit of course!). Notable: Just posted it to my pinterest board “work stuff”. Know anything about people using Pin for things other than buying stuff? eg using it as a cloud based filing cabinet?

  • Ellen

    Thanks for this summary. Will use it in a client preso soon (and give you credit of course!). Notable: Just posted it to my pinterest board “work stuff”. Know anything about people using Pin for things other than buying stuff? eg using it as a cloud based filing cabinet?

  • http://www.theownerbuildernetwork.com.au David Wilks

    Excellent summary.  Thanks Patricia.

  • http://chrisendresmarketing.com/ Chris Endres

    I like what you stated about Social becoming the new support. I had inspiration a year or so ago that social was a great option for instant support and got distracted… whoa… did you see that shiny…. brb 

  • http://chrisendresmarketing.com/ Chris Endres

    I like what you stated about Social becoming the new support. I had inspiration a year or so ago that social was a great option for instant support and got distracted… whoa… did you see that shiny…. brb 

  • FitMissy

    I am totally jumping on the Pintrest platform, starting to see lots of traffic from it.

    I also agree with nr 7 social listening is key to running a successful biz.

    Thanks for sharing!

  • FitMissy

    I am totally jumping on the Pintrest platform, starting to see lots of traffic from it.

    I also agree with nr 7 social listening is key to running a successful biz.

    Thanks for sharing!

  • http://GrowMap.com/ Gail Gardner

    Excellent post, Patricia. Definitely some strong insights here and I agree with you on all of them. One thing you did not mention that I would have is the growing importance of video and photo sharing (which coincides with mobile growth which you did put first). 

    One other major factor. I now consider LinkedIn the most important social network of all because what works better than anything else in life is personal recommendations and that is where LinkedIn excels. Regardless of whether you are promoting a business, offering services, or looking for employment, LinkedIn is THE place to be. It should definitely be optimized and made the highest priority. 

  • http://GrowMap.com/ Gail Gardner

    Excellent post, Patricia. Definitely some strong insights here and I agree with you on all of them. One thing you did not mention that I would have is the growing importance of video and photo sharing (which coincides with mobile growth which you did put first). 

    One other major factor. I now consider LinkedIn the most important social network of all because what works better than anything else in life is personal recommendations and that is where LinkedIn excels. Regardless of whether you are promoting a business, offering services, or looking for employment, LinkedIn is THE place to be. It should definitely be optimized and made the highest priority. 

  • Shelley

    Psst…when I went to Pin this article, the image options that came up did not have one with a good image representing this post, nor did they have a description attached to them with a title and link back to your page. As a habit, I always label my images ( especially the highly Pin-able one’s ) with a clear post description and name of my blog.
    Besides the critique of this post….I love all the info I get from here! Michael Stelzner, I listen to your podcasts religiously….your talking in my ears while I’m cleaning the house and working in the garden. Which is about the only times I’m not on line :) Keep the good work up!

  • Shelley

    Psst…when I went to Pin this article, the image options that came up did not have one with a good image representing this post, nor did they have a description attached to them with a title and link back to your page. As a habit, I always label my images ( especially the highly Pin-able one’s ) with a clear post description and name of my blog.
    Besides the critique of this post….I love all the info I get from here! Michael Stelzner, I listen to your podcasts religiously….your talking in my ears while I’m cleaning the house and working in the garden. Which is about the only times I’m not on line :) Keep the good work up!

  • Marcia Brown

    Hi, Patricia!  This is my first time to comment on one of your articles, I think.  The section on Pinterest was the most enlightening to me.  I knew Pinterest was gaining in usage in leaps and bounds, but your graph really helped me see how important it is beginning to be.  It’s a good reason to start using it to gather a following for my niche area.  Thanks for the great content!

  • Marcia Brown

    Hi, Patricia!  This is my first time to comment on one of your articles, I think.  The section on Pinterest was the most enlightening to me.  I knew Pinterest was gaining in usage in leaps and bounds, but your graph really helped me see how important it is beginning to be.  It’s a good reason to start using it to gather a following for my niche area.  Thanks for the great content!

  • http://www.facebook.com/theanitaclub Anita Frances Southall

    As a new Pinterest user I started with two boards focused on my key areas.
    I have started using more social media sites as part of being a digital media/journalism student. Pinterest is very handy for sorting and shuffling ideas and knowing you will not have trouble finding “that” item again!
    I have since added more boards including media matters. So although I have a means of researching and recording textbook and e-book and internet ideas using Zotero; Pinterest is immediately more user friendly, customer focused and quick to use, open and locate ideas Pics and referred articles. It is easy to sort the professional things from the more personal interests. In effect as you say a cloud based filing cabinet. I would be interested to find out how their business model works compared to other social media platforms.. there is another topic for one of the official blog writers here!

  • http://www.facebook.com/theanitaclub Anita Frances Southall

    As a new Pinterest user I started with two boards focused on my key areas.
    I have started using more social media sites as part of being a digital media/journalism student. Pinterest is very handy for sorting and shuffling ideas and knowing you will not have trouble finding “that” item again!
    I have since added more boards including media matters. So although I have a means of researching and recording textbook and e-book and internet ideas using Zotero; Pinterest is immediately more user friendly, customer focused and quick to use, open and locate ideas Pics and referred articles. It is easy to sort the professional things from the more personal interests. In effect as you say a cloud based filing cabinet. I would be interested to find out how their business model works compared to other social media platforms.. there is another topic for one of the official blog writers here!

  • http://www.facebook.com/theanitaclub Anita Frances Southall

    Hi yes my overnight research dug up the fact that Face book is for the people you actually know, Twitter for the ones that you want to get to know or to get you known better and Linked in for your miost professional contacts and recommendations, neatly reflecting your comments above..

  • http://www.facebook.com/theanitaclub Anita Frances Southall

    Hi yes my overnight research dug up the fact that Face book is for the people you actually know, Twitter for the ones that you want to get to know or to get you known better and Linked in for your miost professional contacts and recommendations, neatly reflecting your comments above..

  • http://www.facebook.com/theanitaclub Anita Frances Southall

    I now have commenced new social media exposure with a view to longer term aims and goals. A way of supporting and nourishing my desire to write, a means of communicating key points of difference and as a way of getting a following before a product may even become available. So all the above advice resonates well for me.

  • http://www.facebook.com/theanitaclub Anita Frances Southall

    I now have commenced new social media exposure with a view to longer term aims and goals. A way of supporting and nourishing my desire to write, a means of communicating key points of difference and as a way of getting a following before a product may even become available. So all the above advice resonates well for me.

  • http://www.sagarmandal.wordpress.com/ Sagar Mandal

    The Social Media Report is compiled based on the data available till July 2012. Don’t you think by 6 months the trends have actually  changed or deviated?

  • http://www.sagarmandal.wordpress.com/ Sagar Mandal

    The Social Media Report is compiled based on the data available till July 2012. Don’t you think by 6 months the trends have actually  changed or deviated?

  • http://www.facebook.com/rajatgarg Rajat Garg

    At the end of day, large number of businesses spend advertising dollars where there is direct correlation to revenue. Internet medium provided that visibility!

    For FB to attract serious dollars, they will have to show those results.

    If they keep competing for Brand advertisement, they will have to fight it out with TV/Radio/Print (which outside US/UK is still pretty strong)

    Thx
    Rajat
    SocialAppsHQ

  • http://www.facebook.com/rajatgarg Rajat Garg

    At the end of day, large number of businesses spend advertising dollars where there is direct correlation to revenue. Internet medium provided that visibility!

    For FB to attract serious dollars, they will have to show those results.

    If they keep competing for Brand advertisement, they will have to fight it out with TV/Radio/Print (which outside US/UK is still pretty strong)

    Thx
    Rajat
    SocialAppsHQ

  • http://www.ydeveloper.com/e-smart-ecommerce-suite.html Ydeveloper

    There isn’t any perfect trend I found for social media anywhere, as it’s confirm that it’s going to be a more challenging than last year.

  • http://www.ydeveloper.com/e-smart-ecommerce-suite.html Ydeveloper

    There isn’t any perfect trend I found for social media anywhere, as it’s confirm that it’s going to be a more challenging than last year.

  • Andrew Schiestel

    Hey Patricia, thanks for putting this together. In #4 the infograph references “active Twitter users” but doesn’t describe how it defines an active Twitter user. This # will matter to networks and marketers who are evaluating Twitter’s audience potential. 

    Do you happen to know how they are defining “active Twitter users?”

    Thanks, 

    Andrew Schiestel | tbk Creative

  • Andrew Schiestel

    Hey Patricia, thanks for putting this together. In #4 the infograph references “active Twitter users” but doesn’t describe how it defines an active Twitter user. This # will matter to networks and marketers who are evaluating Twitter’s audience potential. 

    Do you happen to know how they are defining “active Twitter users?”

    Thanks, 

    Andrew Schiestel | tbk Creative

  • Nicole Sands

    I couldn’t agree more, especially with prioritizing time for mobile marketing! 

  • Nicole Sands

    I couldn’t agree more, especially with prioritizing time for mobile marketing! 

  • predsicker

    Thanks for reading David :)

  • predsicker

    Thanks for reading David :)

  • predsicker

    Well, no time like the present to get inspired again. Thanks for sharing Chris :)

  • predsicker

    Well, no time like the present to get inspired again. Thanks for sharing Chris :)

  • predsicker

    Sure thing FitMissy. Good things are happening with Pinterest!

  • predsicker

    Sure thing FitMissy. Good things are happening with Pinterest!

  • predsicker

    Totally agree with you about Linkedin Gail! And yes video/photo sharing are huge, not sure if they were included in the report.

  • predsicker

    Totally agree with you about Linkedin Gail! And yes video/photo sharing are huge, not sure if they were included in the report.

  • predsicker

    Thank you for your kind comments Marcia and for reading my article. So glad to hear that you enjoyed it  – do come back :)

  • predsicker

    Thank you for your kind comments Marcia and for reading my article. So glad to hear that you enjoyed it  – do come back :)

  • predsicker

    Glad to hear that Anita – thanks for reading!

  • predsicker

    Glad to hear that Anita – thanks for reading!

  • predsicker

    Probably – social media trends change quickly but there’s still much to be learned even from a 6 month old report. We analyze research reports as they become available to us and we do try to use the very, very latest reports. But sometimes it’s not that easy. Thanks Sagar, and I’ll keep your sentiments in mind for next time :)

  • predsicker

    Active Twitter users are those who are posting updates and having conversations regularly on Twitter :)

  • Marcia Brown

    You bet!  I’ll be looking for more articles!

  • Marcia Brown

    You bet!  I’ll be looking for more articles!

  • http://www.facebook.com/RichardNgHS Richard Ng

    I personally think that Social Listening is the most enlightening but yet obvious one! This is also the reason why Facebook is launching their Graph Search feature which is tapping on the needs of social listening by the users. 

  • http://www.facebook.com/RichardNgHS Richard Ng

    I personally think that Social Listening is the most enlightening but yet obvious one! This is also the reason why Facebook is launching their Graph Search feature which is tapping on the needs of social listening by the users. 

  • Addie Van Gessel

    Great summary. Thanks for sharing and linking to the full study.

  • Addie Van Gessel

    Great summary. Thanks for sharing and linking to the full study.

  • http://roarmkting.com Ryan Rosado

    I especially liked the trend regarding “social care.” People are less and less inclined to call a 1-800 number and more inclined to post a comment or tweet and have their problem solved.  When it happens, it’s a beautiful thing. Great post :)!

  • http://roarmkting.com Ryan Rosado

    I especially liked the trend regarding “social care.” People are less and less inclined to call a 1-800 number and more inclined to post a comment or tweet and have their problem solved.  When it happens, it’s a beautiful thing. Great post :)!

  • predsicker

    Thanks Ryan, I agree – can’t remember the last time I called a 1-800 number (apart from my bank)

  • predsicker

    Thanks Ryan, I agree – can’t remember the last time I called a 1-800 number (apart from my bank)

  • predsicker

    You’re welcome Addie, thanks for reading :)

  • predsicker

    You’re welcome Addie, thanks for reading :)

  • Kaz

    Awesome post! You hit all the key trends. On the #6 Social Ads, we’ve been experimenting w/ FB sponsored posts and stories and, while effective, we receive frequent hate comments filled with profanity. It seems some people feel like you’ve intruded into their personal space. Wondering if others are seeing the same hate?

  • Kaz

    Awesome post! You hit all the key trends. On the #6 Social Ads, we’ve been experimenting w/ FB sponsored posts and stories and, while effective, we receive frequent hate comments filled with profanity. It seems some people feel like you’ve intruded into their personal space. Wondering if others are seeing the same hate?

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=590537006 Hanne Lene Dalgleish

    Thanks for sharing how you’re using Pinterest. It gives me a few ideas on how to interact on Pinterest with my followers, and I love how you compare it to using Zotero, which is such a useful tool.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=590537006 Hanne Lene Dalgleish

    Thanks for sharing how you’re using Pinterest. It gives me a few ideas on how to interact on Pinterest with my followers, and I love how you compare it to using Zotero, which is such a useful tool.

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  • Diane Gibbs

    Great content and i like that you pulled out the top seven areas for me to focus on. These are actionable! Love that. I am converting my site to a custom wordpress site which will give me more flexibility for mobile. Thanks as always!!

    diane gibbs

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  • Norman Ridenour

    I strongly believe that this line of comments is talking to the converted.  A survey of my Adorewoods mailing list produced two out of 120 respondents who used Facebook.  The others did not know what it was or sneered at it and those who do use it. (My fellow artists/crafts people whom I consider successful also sneered.)  Twitter I did not ask about.  In short my clients do not have time for or interest in vacuous activities.  NEVER have I had a Facebook contact show up on my web page and only 3-4 times on ETSY.  After three years the Likes on FB are limited to my real friends.  There is NO spiral out to the second level of contacts.  The idea of playing with Social Media while watching football produces an image totally opposite to my clients.  

    Linked In recommendations are fraudulent hype.  People recommend me for things in which I have NO knowledge or experience.  I assume they expect me to return the ‘favor’.  I do not!   

    As I expected in the beginning this social marketing is liked not because of dollars but because one can sit and spread IT!

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  • http://twitter.com/s_verdonschot Saskia Verdonschot

    Interesting insights Patricia! Especially insight #2 about Pinterest and #5 about Social Care. What do you advice about #5? Is it best to be open in your social care so everybody can see? Imagine there is a complaint, will you show the total discussion online at Facebook for example, untill it’s solved? Or will you seek personal contact with your client/complainer by telephone, e-mail or personal meeting?

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  • eva

    lovin this findings….definitely keeps me thinking!

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  • Andrew

    Hi Patricia, first of all I’d like to thank you for giving us this wonderful information. I find #5 very interesting, it really shows how business adopt to the social media era.

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  • http://www.callbox.com.my/ Dara Lin

    Hi Patricia,

    #1 and #2 is my bet of all, because everybody can afford to buy mobile phone so it’s easy for them to go business any where and everywhere, images on business can be uploaded afterward to the Pinterest..

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