Social media is coming of age

A recent report by global information and measurement company Nielsen and NM Incite has cast a light on the growing influence of social networks on consumer choice.

In the State of the Media: The Social Media Report 2012, social media is painted in a mature light, having evolved from a purely social platform to an important tool for marketing; exerting influence over consumer product choices and viewing habits. Driving this growth and influence is an explosion in the use of smartphones and mobile applications, as well as the rise of new concepts such as social TV and socially-focussed consumer engagement.

Mobile has been at the heart of social media’s coming of age, with mobile web traffic and app downloads up 82% and 85% respectively between July 2011 and July 2012. This rise is accompanied by a 4% drop in desktop and laptop based web traffic, marking a shift in consumer habits towards mobile and away from traditional media. This trend continues into the world of social media, with both male and female users spending more time on social networks through mobile apps and web compared to PC based usage.

It’s not only mobile that is driving social media forward, but also the rise of second-screen activity; which has vastly increased in popularity in a relatively short space of time. 41% of tablet owners and 38% of smartphone owners now engage with their devices whilst watching television, with between 38% and 44% of those users spending their time on social networks. The creation of this “social TV” experience has had a major effect on both consumer viewing and product choices, with social media now holding considerable sway over popular opinion.

The study found that consumers are increasingly likely to base a number of key purchasing decisions on reviews found on social media. In Europe alone, 48% of consumers are likely to base electronic purchases on social media and online product reviews, whilst 29% would be swayed in their choice of bank or financial product. The Asian market seems particularly driven by social media; 75% of consumers would base their decision to buy an electronic good on social media and other online reviews.

The rising influence of social media is now clear to see, which is why we pride ourselves on efficient targeted social media strategies to ensure the effective use of this growing medium.

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