While the full results will be made public in a webinar on April 29 (SMRC link above), they released key findings at mesh 2009, including:
- 61 per cent of consumers use social media when researching purchases
- 42 per cent of the 45+ crowd on social media are likely to do online research for purchases
- Facebook is the most popular social media tool in Canada (77 per cent of respondents); followed by YouTube (65 per cent) and MySpace (20 per cent)
- 63 per cent of consumers get some of their news and information from social media sites
- 62 percent of PR practitioners ‘use social media at least once a day’ – (hopefully, some of that is being conducted for work)
- 70 per cent of PR practitioners ‘do not have a tool to monitor social media’
A couple of things jumped out at me.
I’m not surprised an increasing number of boomers are turning to social media (i.e. it’s not just for kids). However, that says brands targeting an older demographic shouldn’t ignore social media because they believe their audience isn’t participating (nor should they switch to ALL online tactics, either). It does say we should consider social media as part of an overall communications strategy designed to reach boomers.
From a PR perspective, I’m surprised that 70 per cent of practitioners feel they don’t have a tool to monitor social media. Right now there are a number of really good options available including Google, Technorati, Postrank, Radian6 and Twitter search, to name just a few. Sure, there’s no ONE source we can turn to – but is there for MSM monitoring? I think it’s incumbent on the profession to invest in finding out the best combination for a client’s or organization’s needs.
The good news is the results reinforce what many of us already know: social media is becoming more important to consumers and, as a corollary to the PR profession.
However, rather than blindly jumping on the bandwagon and simply adding it to our communications toolbox, we need to continue to educate ourselves, spend time testing, learning and evaluating, sharing case studies and best practices, and being transparent and ethical in all our programs.
In doing this, I hope and believe the PR profession can continue to establish ourselves as social media thought, strategy and practice leaders.