Americans prefer to interact with brands via social media

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When you use social media tools on a daily basis, you can forget that to a lot of people, it’s a whole new territory. Yes that’s right, there a people (gasp) who don’t know what Twitter or Friendfeed are. Who don’t read blogs on a regular basis and wouldn’t know the first thing about subscribing to an RSS feed.

Which is why I read with great interest a recently published study about the preference of Americans to interact with brands via social media tools.

According to Cone, a US-based strategy and communications agency, 93 per cent of online Americans feel companies should be interacting with them via social media. (I apologize now for not having Canadian stats.)

The online study titled, “2008 Cone Business in Social Media Study”, was conducted September 11-12, 2008 by Opinion Research Corporation.

A summary of its findings:

  • Companies should use social networks to solve their problems (43 percent).
  • Companies should solicit feedback on their products and services (41 percent) via social media.
  • Companies should develop new ways for consumers to interact with their brand (37 percent) e.g. using widgets, web applications, etc.
  • Companies should market to consumers (25 percent) using social media.

The research is considered good news for marketers as it highlights that social media is a good way to reach the traditionally hard-to-reach markets: men and younger consumers:

  • Men are twice as likely as women to interact frequently (one or more times per week) with companies via social media (33% to 17%, respectively)
  • One-third of younger, hard-to-reach consumers (age 18-34) believe that companies should actively market to them via social networks.

One other finding of interest: two-thirds of the wealthiest households ($75K+) and the largest households (3 or more members) feel stronger connections to brands they interact with online.

While all of this is great news for marketers looking into or already invested in social media as a way to extend brand reach, it’s still a long road ahead in terms of reaching all consumers. Because in my anecdotal experience, there a still a huge number of people who don’t interact with friends and family via social media, let alone corporations.

Further, there are still a huge number of organizations who don’t have a social media strategy in place, nor do they intend to in the foreseeable future. Something to think about.

btw: The study polled 1,092 adults (525 men and 567 women) 18 years of age and older with a margin of error of ± 3%. The study is available for download from Cone’s website.

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