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New Research Reports Support Growing Influence Of Facebook and Other Social Media Channels

New Research Reports Support Growing Influence Of Social Media

Even for the naysayers who have written off social media as a passing fad, the numbers are getting difficult to ignore. Several new research reports released over the past two months have not only highlighted the exploding usage of social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter, they have also validated the influence these and other networks are now having on the buying process.

From a pure traffic standpoint, the momentum Facebook has built in the past year is staggering. For example, a recent survey from Nielsen showed the average time users spend on Facebook has increased 10% to 7 hours per month. To appreciate this in comparison to other Web site stickiness, Facebook’s closest competitor is Yahoo, which ranks second at 2 hours, 28 minutes per month.

According to a separate report from

Facebook has also surpassed Yahoo, as the number-two most popular site (behind Google) in the U.S. , with nearly 134 million unique visitors in January 2010. In fact, the data showed that 11.6% of all time spent online in January was spent on Facebook (compared to 4.25% for Yahoo and 4.1% for Google).

Another recent report from the leading technology blog Tech Crunch highlighted the expanding role social sites such as Facebook are playing in sharing widgets and applications. Incorporating data from Gigya, a company that powers widgets on more than 5,000 sites, Tech Crunch found that the distribution of shared items broke down as follows:

  • Facebook (44%)
  • Twitter (29%)
  • Yahoo (18%)
  • MySpace (9%)

Twitter recently announced a new feature, called @anywhere, designed to enable users to send and receive its short messages while they are browsing other Web sites, making it easier for partner sites to reach the mass of tweets posted by users.

While the exploding activity among social channels has been impossible to ignore, many companies are still debating the channels potential to drive purchases. However, new research study from Rice University's Jones Graduate School of Business, which is featured in the March issue of the Harvard Business Review, made strides in supporting the influence businesses see by creating and marketing fan pages.

The research for the article, "How Effective is Facebook Marketing?" built a test case around a Houston-based bakery called Dessert Gallery. The study, based on surveys of more than 1,700 respondents over a three-month period, found that compared with typical Dessert Gallery customers, the company's Facebook fans:

  • Made 36% more visits to its stores each month
  • Spent 45% more of their eating-out dollars at the bakery
  • Spent 33% more during visits to its stores
  • Had 14% higher emotional attachment to the brand
  • Had 41% greater psychological loyalty toward DG

While Facebook is clearly having more of an impact from a BtoC standpoint, DemandGen Report’s new “BtoB Buyer Transformation Survey” showed social networks such as LinkedIn and Twitter are having a growing impact with business purchases. More than 20% of buyers connected directly with potential solution providers via social channels, and 37% posted questions on social networking sites looking for suggestions and feedback as part of their research process.

The survey also showed the growing influence social media, blogs and other Web 2.0 tools are having on the BtoB buying process. A majority of respondents said Twitter and LinkedIn influenced their decisions during the “Solution Analysis” and “Problem Identification” phases. Nearly 90% indicated that blogs impacted their research during the “Solution Analysis” phase and 3 in 4 respondents said social bookmarking sites such as Digg and Delicious were utilized during the early Analysis phases.


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Tags: Facebook, Growing Influence, New Research Reports, Social Channels, Social Media, Social media Marketing, Support


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Comment by Sarah Myers on March 18, 2010 at 2:33am
You can not ignore social media-these results are powerful-good info. Social media sites allow customers to take a look at the dealership's personality and social media gives that opportunity and bridge. The classified sections on myspace, oodle, lycos, and especially facebook, are all growing as more and more people begin to get involved in social media. My mother and father have a facebook! And I assure you, if my dad saw a car dealership, he would take a moment to check out that dealership's to keep up with the movements and make sure you are doing it first and media takes time to build, but the earlier you start, the quicker it goes.
Comment by David Johnson on March 17, 2010 at 10:17am
Social media IS getting very hard to ignore. As I've said countless times, if you take away the technology all you're left with is people, people communicating with people. It's the human side of marketing and is the oldest form of building your business, networking.

@Kieth: As always, I agree with you 100%. Social media is "permission marketing" and is the ultimate way for a customer to say, "HEY! Lets get to know each other because I want to feel comfortable when I make my purchase."
Comment by Keith Shetterly on March 17, 2010 at 8:34am
Social Media is the most modern and powerful form of Seth Godin's "Permission Marketing". That guy is such a visionary; those who don't understand SM need to look at his book. Essentially, "interruption marketing" is interruping a consumer while they are doing something they want to do: Radio and TV commercials are the most obvious forms of interruption marketing, but even newspapers use this by taking a three-column article and spreading it to several pages so that they can interrupt the flow of the reading eye with jams of advertisements. "Permission Marketing" means people are actually interested in something your marketing adds to what they are already doing, even just a part: Social Media groups about fly fishing might accept your Montana summer vacation spot marketing. And they might also accept your 4x4 SUV marketing if you also provided exciting information about off-road efforts to get to remote fly fishing spots on the vacation.

Social Media represents the sea change to consumer-driven marketing (hence the term "inbound marketing" for SM) which is really "permission marketing". The Internet is blooming the rose bush of PM, and the flower of SM is going to last a long time.

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