Social Media, the New Voice of Advertising

Social Media, the New Voice of Advertising

Even with all the talk of Facebook’s increased privacy settings and the concern about sharing too much online, the majority of Americans still reveal personal information on social media networks. So why would it come as a surprise that these personal details include product, company, and brand preferences? If I have the most amazing sandwich ever or a really bad flight experience, I’m going to want to rant and rave to my friends. Maybe they will have had similar experiences or a better recommendation. Or maybe they’ll take my advice and go to that sandwich shop or choose a different airline.

A recent Harris Interactive Poll released last week showed that of the 2,131 U.S. adults surveyed, 34 percent use social media to broadcast their feelings, whether positive or negative, about a company, brand, or product. Of these respondents, 26 percent have been negative, 23 percent have been positive, and 19 percent have given reviews or recommendations. Similarly, as I mentioned in my post, The Social Media Revolution Continues, a video on Erik Qualman’s book Socialnomics showed 34 percent of bloggers post opinions about products and brands, myself included.

So with all these personal reviews, opinions, and recommendations out there, how much is this impacting traditional advertisements? …As it turns out, quite a lot.

The Socialnomics video revealed that 78 percent of consumers trust peer recommendations, whereas only 14 percent trust advertisements. Yikes! This makes sense though, since Harris Interactive found that 46 percent of Americans feel they can be brutally honest on the internet, whereas traditional advertisements may seem skewed to consumers since they are paid for by the brand they are portraying.

So, it appears as though all our social media exclaiming is making more of an impact on consumers and our peers than we may have thought.

The Harris Interactive Poll showed that 45 percent of Americans who use social media say reviews from friends or people they follow on social networking websites influence them either a great deal or a fair amount. And this is precisely what people talking about products or companies want. About 38 percent say they aim to influence others when expressing their preferences online (it’s interesting to note that this includes nearly half of the younger generation, 18-34 year olds).

With 90 percent of people now skipping traditional TV ads, according to that same video, thanks to the inventions of TiVo and DVR, social media is clearly stepping up to fill that space. So, be careful the next time you tweet about a company, product, or brand – it may be getting more attention than you think!

The Social Media Revolution Continues

The Social Media Revolution Continues

I’m amazed that people are still questioning whether social media is a fad or not. Social networks and online interactions have exploded over the past few years and are continuing to grow, without any hint of a plateau. Erik Qualman, author of Socialnomics, says it best in that “we don’t have a choice on whether we do social media; the question is how well we do it.” I found this video really interesting to show just how much social media is taking off.

The video shows stats from Qualman’s book and I’ve listed out just a few of the jaw-dropping numbers below:

  • 80% of companies use social media for recruitment – of those, 95% are using LinkedIn
  • 50% of mobile internet traffic in the UK is for Facebook
  • 25% of search results for the world’s top 20 largest brads are links to user-generated content
  • 34% of bloggers post opinions about products and brands
  • 96% of millennials (generation Y) have joined a social network
  • 78% of consumers trust peer recommendations, but only 14% trust advertisements
  • Only 18% of traditional TV campaigns generate positive ROI as 90% of people skip ads via TiVo or DVR
  • 24 or the 25 largest newspapers are experiencing record declines in circulation

The video notes an important shift in the wake of social media – we no longer search for news, news comes to us. This is something I’ve noted before, but still marvel at the implications and challenges, especially the challenge of reaching new audiences. How do you reach a new group of people who only have select news topics delivered to them? This dilemma presents opportunities for creative campaigns, which are sure to be centered around social media.

As word of mouth and peer recommendations are such high influencers now, it’s important that you are being talked about. If you, your company, or your clients are being left out of conversations in your field or industry, you will likely be forgotten.  Qualman notes that the real ROI of social media is that your business will still exist in 5 years… yikes!

So with the explosion of social media, I was surprised by a recent survey released by Citibank that found 81% of small businesses (of the 552 surveyed) are not using social media.  The survey, asking if small business owners use the Internet for business growth, also found that 37% are not even using their website to expand their business. It seems like these companies are really missing an opportunity.

Almost two years ago, Cone released results of a research study that found that 93% of social media users think companies should have a social media presence and 85% believe companies should also interact with its community via social media. These statistics can only have increased since social media has continued to grow exponentially with more and more users joining social sites like Twitter and Facebook every day.

So why wouldn’t companies take advantage of social media?  How are you, your clients, or company making social media work for you?