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Posts Tagged ‘social networks’

Social Networks are Touchpoints for Customer Acquisition and Retention

Monday, May 31st, 2010

Touchpoints serve as the point of contact between a buyer and a seller. As the race to socialize commerce escalates, these touchpoints represent the nodes that define the human network, connecting people across the social Web and uniting them around common interests, themes, and movements.

While the technology to connect buyers and sellers on the social Web is universal, the architecture for true engagement is antiquated. Customers are flocking to the social web to not only connect with friends, family, and peers, but also the brands that attract their attention. However, there is a tremendous disconnect between the volume of potential customers and the brands who truly understand how to find and more importantly, how to establish mutually beneficial connections with them.

The roadblocks that contribute to the absence of traffic on the bridges built between consumers and brands are trivial once brands understand the dynamics of social engineering and the allure of content in order to stimulate transactions.

Everything starts with an acute awareness of where existing and potential customers are discovering and sharing information today combined with a genuine appreciation for what moves them. The moment we have the insight necessary where to construct our presences, we can then engage with influencers, peers, and consumers based on a transparent foundation of contributing value, direction and resolution to each interaction.

According to research conducted by ForeSee, the opportunity for online retailers is profound. In the 2010 Social Media Report, ForeSee observed that 60% of online shoppers already use social media sites and networks regularly. And, 56% of those online shoppers friend or follow retailers, but they can only do so, if the retailer is actively engaging within those networks. The study found that only one-fourth of the top 100 e-tailers (e-retailers) has yet to create a Facebook page.

ForeSee found that of all the social networks frequented by online shoppers, Facebook consistently earned the top spot.

56% of online shoppers frequented Facebook, followed by YouTube at 22%. MySpace, believe it or not, ranked third with 15% and actually edged out Twitter by 4%.

However, pay attention to the real opportunity. While existing users are important, over 30% reported that they do not use social sites…at least not yet.

If only 25% of the top 100 online retailers maintains a Facebook page and with Facebook ranking as the most active network among online shoppers, the following data should be more than enough to change 2010 marketing plans posthaste.

Over 60% of consumers follow one-to-five brands online with another 21% following six-to-ten.  10% actually reported following 11-20 brands and 8% stated that they follow over 20 of their favorite products and services.

What motivates them?

Affinity and allegiance are of course among reasons for following brands, but as documented late last year, consumers are also motivated by receiving invitations for events, special offers or promotions.

For those skeptics who have yet to allocate funds and resources to engaging customers and prospects in social networks, perhaps this information will erode suspicion.

Your customers ultimately will engage with their favorite brands where and when possible, but eventually, your absence will eventually contribute to the insignificance of the brand as competitors will ultimately step in and capture the attention and loyalty of the very people you need to reach.

This research is testament to the rapid evolution of customer acquisition, retention, as well as defining the new landscape for advocacy.

Connect with Brian Solis on Twitter, LinkedIn, Tumblr, Google Buzz, Facebook

The Age of Social Networks

Friday, May 21st, 2010

Social networks share a common ingredient in design and intent, the connection of people and the facilitation of conversations, sharing, and discovery. What they do not share however, are culture, behavior, and prevailing demographics. Each network is unique in its genetic and cultural composition and it is for that reason that we benefit by becoming digital anthropologists in addition to new media marketers.

Demographics are distributed within all social networks, but only concentrated within a select few. Where specific demographics materialize varies from network to network and as such, the more effective social strategies and tactics are designed to reach target audiences where, when and how they engage.

Over the years, I’ve relied on Google Ad Planner to surface the critical demographics in order to construct meaningful and targeted social programming. Pingdom recently examined the data and packaged the results in a visually rich presentation worthy of sharing.

The study included 19 social networks…

Age Distribution

The disposition of age groups within social networking as a whole is representative of the state of social media engagement, but this is fleeting. Age groups will only continue to meander as online networking becomes pervasive. At the moment, we can see that those 35-44 dominate the social web, representing 25% of total participation. For those who have actively monitored adoption of social networks, this next stat might not come as a surprise, but it’s worth highlighting nonetheless. Following at 19% isn’t a younger generation at all, in fact, those 45-54 are the second most active group within social networks, just ahead of the 25-34 segment at 18%.  Individuals under 17 rank fourth with 15%. I find it fascinating that the 45 to 65+ group, those who are usually considered laggards in the technology adoption cycle, symbolize almost one-third of total users of social networks. They’re equally connecting with not only each other but also the younger generations who are spending an increasing amount of time online as well.

Distribution of Age Within Social Networks

Reviewing the age groups broadly across social media serves only as a primer to the deeper level of analysis required to identify exactly where we need to connect with target demographics. As such, Pingdom performed the first level of segmentation to showcase how age groups are distributed within each specific social network.

Bebo - Over 40% are 17 and under followed by 35-44 and 55-64 at just under 15% each - The 45-54 dominate at just over 30% followed by 20% at 55-64 and just under 10% at 65+ (Represents the highest concentration of the older demographics with 78% over 35)

Delicious - Over 25% of users are 35-44

Digg – 35-44 constitute over 25% of the total user base followed by just under 20% at 25-34 (80% of users are over 25)

Facebook - ~25% of users are 45-54 with the 35-44 group at just 20% (61% are 35 or older)

FriendFeed – Shy of 40%, 35-44 represent the majority of users

Friendster - Polar opposites with 25% under 17 and roughly 20% 45-54

Hi5 - 25-34 collectively represent close to 30% of all users – Almost 20% are under 17 with the 35-44 category also representing just under 20%

LinkedIn – Less than 30% are 35-44, 20% are 45-54 and more than 15% are 55-64

LiveJournal -25-34 and 35-44 are tied at 20+% percent each

MySpace - Over 30% of all users are under 17 and slightly less than 20% are 45-54

Ning – 25% of 35-44 and over 60% are 35 and older

Reddit - 30% are 35-44

Slashdot – More than 30% are 35-44

StumbleUpon – The 35-44 segment symbolize just under 30% of all users followed by 25-34 at just under 20%

Twitter – More than 25% of users are 35-44, trailed by the 45-54 group at less than 20% (65% of all users are over the age of 35 with less than 20% representing the 24 and under age groups)

Tagged - Almost 30% are 45-54 and slightly over 25% are under 17

Xanga – Over 20% are under 17

Governing Age Groups

If we further review the data, we can see which age groups are dominant across the social Web

17 and under: 21%

18-24: 0%

25-34: 5%

35-44: 58%

45-54: 16%

55-64: 0%

65 and over: 0%

Average User Age by Network

Cascading further down stream, the data when crunched, reveals the average age per network, which allows businesses to better understand the general user within each.

Bebo – 28.4 – 44.9
Delicious – 41.3
Digg – 38.5
Facebook - 38.4
FriendFeed - 38.4
Friendster – 33.4
Hi5 – 33.5 – 35.8
LinkedIn – 44.3
LiveJournal – 35.2
MySpace – 31.8
Ning – 37.8
Reddit – 37.4
Slashdot – 40.4
StumbleUpon – 38.5
Twitter – 39.1
Tagged – 34.4
Xanga - 32.3

In social media, not only do women rule, but it seems that the middle-aged are Social Media’s largest share holders.  Again, the average number is just that, a generalization of users classified by age, not by usage, theme, or connectivity. As we identify whom it is we need to reach and why, analyzing data as it relates to age groups is just one side of a multi-faceted program. In order to possess and convey value and meaning, it is anthropology, sociology and the psychographic mapping of people to themes, interests, and aspirations that will prevail now and over time. It’s the difference between visibility and presence, and in social media, presence is felt.

Connect with Brian Solis on Twitter, LinkedIn, Tumblr, Google Buzz, Facebook

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