Social networking becomes primary contact tool
People interacting more on social networking than face-to-face, email or phone says study
A recent research study of active internet users, entitled WAVE 5 - The Socialisation of Brands, conducted by UM, showed that internet users now contact more people in our personal life through social networks than by any other means.
The study by the global marketing communications firm showed that internet users no longer contact people primarily by phone or email or speak face-to-face and, on average are in frequent contact with at least 38 people via social networking. The study is the largest and longest running dedicated social media study in the world so far.
"Social media continues to change the way we interact with our peers and fundamentally impacts our thoughts, feelings, attitudes and behavior. For marketing communication specialists, it is crucial to understand consumers' social media usage, influence and motivation to help brands build equity, drive sales, increase loyalty and create brand endorsement," said Paul Katrib, Regional Managing Director of UM MENA.
The research also showed that internet users are not merely just reading and finding information on the web, but are commenting, contributing, writing and uploading and sharing their own pictures and video on their every-day lives.
The Wave 5 study identified over 540,000 social media amplifiers in the MENA region. Social media amplifiers are those users who have over 345 friends and followers and have a high level of online activity. These users are able to influence opinions and offer recommendations as well as create communities around a topic or interest.
In addition to this, around 60% of consumers in the region in the last six months have created pages on social networking sites. Over 50% of active internet users have access to broadband and own a laptop, while 90% have access to the internet from home. Twenty percent have mobile internet access.
Most importantly for brands and brand advertising, the study showed that 26% of regular active internet users have joined at least one brand community compared with 57% who visited official company websites.
According to the study, of those who joined a brand, 76% said they thought more positively of the brand as a result, 72% said they are more likely to buy the brand, 73% said they felt more loyal to the brand and 63% said they recommended others to join.
"It's essential for brands to understand why and where different groups of consumers participate in this new world. It's not merely a question of identifying the best places to target - the classic media planning/buying approach - but truly knowing what motivates them to be part of it. Understand that and brands can create campaigns, messages and communities that consumers want to be part of, spreading the message far and wide much more effectively than simply buying banners and buttons in these spaces," said Katrib.