UM Wave 6 research studied Consumers across 62 countries to see how they engage with social media sites and brands.
Results from the study showed that in January 2012 the top 10 search terms worldwide were all social media related sites which included Google, Facebook, YouTube, Baidu, blogspot.com and Twitter. Facebook was found to be the most searched word on the internet and accounted for over 10% of all website visits in the United States.
As many online users continue to spend large portions of their day on social media sites, brands should look at this as excellent opportunity to engage with their customers 24-7.
Brands using social media to respond to customer issues and complaints were found to be the most successful use of social media for companies.
Developing social media strategies that are more sophisticated will increase the chance of meeting commercial objectives. The most effective thing a brand can do is to offer personal responses to customer queries and complaints via social media sites. This creates a sense of respect and loyalty between the brand and the customers.
"Companies' social media strategies are all starting to look the same," said Glen Parker, research director UM EMEA. "Businesses need to think about creating social experiences that answer specific objectives, before embarking on any social strategy. Simply getting consumers to 'Like' them is no longer a valuable enough tactic."
The study also shows that online users have no intention of slowing down their constant interaction on social media sites. Despite concerns about revealing online data, sharing personal data is becoming an accepted risk; with over 55% of those polled saying social networking is more important than actual privacy.
People are willing to take the risk of sharing personal data online in order to do things like updating their profile on Facebook, or sharing personal information and views on blogs and other social media sites.
"It would appear that social networking has become too deeply ingrained in people's lives for them to consider sacrificing it - even for something as important to them as their data privacy - it's an issue but not one that will curtail continued growth", said Parker.
As social media has become an important part of the media world, engaging with customers through this channel is imperative for brands.
"With social media becoming so important in the media mix, it is crucial that brands start looking at how they can use these platforms in conjunction with more traditional platforms such as outdoor and press, in order to reach more consumers more effectively," said Parker.
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