Consumers are spending more time than ever using social media, as demonstrated in the Social Media Report recently published by Nielsen and NM Incite, a Nielsen/McKinsey company. Building on this report, research by NM Incite helps uncover what impacts social media may have for marketers trying to build their brands and connect with their audience more directly.
Social media plays an important role in how consumers discover, research, and share information about brands and products. In fact 60 percent of consumers researching products through multiple online sources learned about a specific brand or retailer through social networking sites. Active social media users are more likely to read product reviews online, and 3 out of 5 create their own reviews of products and services. Women are more likely than men to tell others about products that they like (81% of females vs. 72% of males). Overall, consumer-generated reviews and product ratings are the most preferred sources of product information among social media users.
Research shows that social media is increasingly a platform consumers use to express their loyalty to their favorite brands and products, and many seek to reap benefits from brands for helping promote their products. Among those who share their brand experiences through social media, at least 41 percent say they do so to receive discounts. When researching products, social media users are likely to trust the recommendations of their friends and family most, and results from Nielsen’s Global Online Survey indicate that 2 out of 3 respondents said they were either highly or somewhat influenced by advertising with a social context.
Social Media also plays a key role in protecting brands: 58 percent of social media users say they write product reviews to protect others from bad experiences, and nearly 1 in 4 say they share their negative experiences to “punish companies”. Many customers also use social media to engage with brands on a customer service level, with 42 percent of 18- to 34-year-olds acknowledging that they expect customer support within 12 hours of a complaint.
On the flip side, another interesting trend is the interest of consumers to act as ambassadors and advocates for brands through social media. A majority of active social networkers (53%) follow brands. These brands are increasingly recruiting their fans and followers to spread word-of-mouth recommendations about their products and services, and among consumers who write product reviews online, a majority say their share their experiences to “give recognition for a job well done” by the company. Social media users are also interested in collaborating with their favorite brands, with 60 percent of 18- to 34-year-olds saying they want to give product improvement recommendations, and another 64 percent who want to customize their products.