Did you know that 32% of consumers aged 18-24 use social media in the bathroom? Incredible but true, the statistic is yet another example of how pervasive social networking technologies have become.
The stat comes from Nielsen’s Social Media Report 2012, released earlier this month to provide a snapshot into what drives continued growth of social networking, how consumers’ social media behavior is evolving, and how these changes affect the relationship between brands and customers. It’s a great read for anyone who wants their finger on the pulse of social media’s growth around the world for both consumers and businesses.
Here are three key takeaways from the report:
Social media has fundamentally changed the consumer decision journey
If you didn’t know this in 2012, hear it from Nielsen today:
The days when companies could tightly control brand messaging and progress consumers along a linear purchase funnel have long ended. Social media has fundamentally changed the consumer decision journey. Consumer decisions and behaviors are increasingly driven by the opinions, tastes and preferences of an exponentially larger, global pool of friends, peers and influencers.
And they have the numbers to back up their claims.
65% of social media users learn about brands, products, and services through social networks, and 70% of users hear about their friends’ and colleagues’ personal experiences using those products. These are powerful figures that cement the power of social word of mouth marketing. Your customers today are more informed than ever before and they are not afraid to speak their minds loudly and publicly.
Indeed, 53% of social media users say they use the networks to compliment brands and a nearly equal number (50%) express concerns and complaints about brands and services online.
These figures should not be viewed as a detriment to your business, but rather as opportunities for re-establishing trust and loyalty with your customers. When receiving a compliment, thank the customer for their service and highlight the story to win over other prospective buyers. When addressing complaints, work quickly and sincerely to remedy the situation. Be open, transparent, and authentic, and your customers will show their appreciation when they make purchasing decisions.
Social media is all about mobile
Did you or someone you know get an iPad, iPhone, or Android for Christmas? Well, it probably didn’t take long for that new gadget to be used as a social networking device. More than ever, people today use smartphones and tablets to access all their favorite websites, especially popular social networks like Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.
Specifically, apps have become very popular for accessing social media. App usage, according to Nielsen, now accounts for more than a third of all social networking time across PCs and mobile devices. Out of all social media users, 46% say they use smartphones (up from 37% last year) and 16% say they use tablets (up from 3% last year) to access their favorite networks.
Mobile means more connectivity. And the more consumers are connected, the more they turn to social media. In 2013, it is imperative that businesses continue to invest in social media so that they can meet their customers where they already are. Additionally, it would be wise for companies to empower their salespeople, be they store managers or financial advisors, to also engage with their customers and clients via mobile devices.
Social media proliferation begets social media proliferation
Nielsen dedicates two whole pages in its report to Pinterest, the content sharing social network that experienced exponential growth in 2012. Especially popular among the white and female demographics, Pinterest grew from under five million unique U.S. visitors in July 2011 to 27.2 million this past July.
The takeaway for social marketers is bigger than “your brand absolutely must be on Pinterest.” In fact, Pinterest may not even be a right fit for all businesses. Instead, the lesson here is that social media, even today, still has much room for growth, be it on niche/verticalized platforms like Instagram, Pinterest, and Path or through new challengers like Google+ and (the revamped) Myspace.
In 2013, most social marketers should continue to focus their efforts on the three most popular social networks: Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn. But we should also be open to platform expansion, as the landscape still evolves.