This week, we’re going to be taking an in-depth look at some recent research conducted by Beyond, M Booth, and Lexis that followed the social consumption and sharing habits of 3,000 US and UK participants.
The participants were prompted to respond to a number of questions about two products or services they had recently researched online, and the findings offer valuable insight into the habits and profile of an emerging figure in marketing: the social consumer.
High Sharers and Low Sharers – and Who You Need the Most
According to the report, there are two types of consumers who engage products over social media channels, differentiated by the quantity of content they create and share. These are the “high sharers” and the “low sharers,” and they react to products and brands differently, but sometimes predictably, according to which “sharing” category they are in.
It was found that high sharers:
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- tend to be young;
- are 3x as likely to recommend products;
- have a strong sense of brand loyalty;
- own multiple Internet devices;
- research low involvement products; and
- constitute 20% of total consumers online.
On the other hand, low sharers:
- tend to be older;
- are more likely to research high involvement products;
- are more likely to purchase a researched product; and
- are less loyal to brands and more concerned with product quality.
High sharers are of particular value to marketers and form a de facto foot soldier force for brands, carrying their message and distributing it to others. These sharers are also 3x as likely to review a product, which is one of the leading factors driving conversion of researched, high involvement products. So, high sharers are important to companies because they act as brand advocates and generate more trust and interest in those brands.
The study also determined that the high sharing population is more likely to make a purchase from a brand that has a modern image, an important detail to keep in mind for marketing groups that want to target this demographic.
How Much Do We Talk About Our “Stuff” On the Web?
Of the participants surveyed, the following additional findings were made:
- 53% of participants who had researched a product online had interacted with a brand via Facebook;
- 40% had liked a product on Facebook;
- 20% used Facebook to research products at least once a week;
- 42% made some kind of social or online post about a product or brand; and
- 33% wrote a review of a product online.
People are Researching Brands and Products – But Where?
If you’re asking yourself how you can best influence these high sharing groups and other social consumers, don’t worry – the study covered that, too. Across the board and among all groups, organic and paid search channels reigned as the most influential resources for those researching brands and products. “Owned” channels, such as websites and social media profiles, and “earned” channels, like rating sites, news articles, and word-of-mouth feedback, were found to be mostly neck and neck for secondary influence.
It comes as no surprise to savvy SEO-ers, but despite all, search results are still considered the most influential online source for brand interactivity, followed by a brand’s website, review sites, news clips, and online advertisements. Least influential in the decision-making process are Facebook comments, blog posts, Wikipedia, Foursquare, and – surprisingly – Twitter.
What we can conclude from this is that while brand interaction is certainly a social business, it’s still dominated by the regular players: search results and organic web presence.
Here is the infographic that accompanied the white paper documenting Beyond, M Booth, and Lexis’ findings.