Active social media users are more likely than the average person to have engaged in a variety of consumer activities, whether online or in person, finds a survey [pdf] released in June 2012 by Allstate, in association with National Journal. They are almost 10% more likely than the average respondent to have consulted with friends, family or co-workers about a product or service to buy (79% vs. 72%), and 18% more likely to have bought a product or service online (78% vs. 66%). Social media users also pay attention to what others have to say: 64% report having changed their mind about purchasing a product or service because of the opinions of others, compared to 58% of respondents overall. And beyond listening to others, they are keen to have their say too: they are more likely than the average to have participated in groups made up of people concerned about a particular product, service, or company (33% vs. 28%).
Somewhat unsurprisingly, social media users are more likely than the average to say that when making a new purchase, they give at least some consideration to comments by other consumers on online forums, comment sections, and social media (72% vs. 59%). They also are more likely to pay attention to online reviews from other consumers (66% vs. 54%) and reviews by bloggers (40% vs. 32%).
Interestingly, though, they’re also more apt to pay at least some attention to expert reviews in publications and major newspapers (77% vs. 73%) and advertising from companies on TV, signs, online, in print, or in-store displays (63% vs. 57%). Conversations with friends, family, or other acquaintances, as well as information shared by these people also play a role more with social media users than the general population.
Data from the Allstate/National Journal “Heartland Monitor Poll XIII” indicates that 64% of social media users want to see an increase in companies using social media to respond to customer questions and complaints. This may be a reflection of the finding that just 1 in 5 users believe corporations are using social media to more easily interact with current and potential customers, with 73% instead believing that companies are using social media to more easily advertise their products and services.
According to a recent report from IBM, though, companies may be paying heed to these consumers’ wishes. 57% of the more than 1,700 global CEOs surveyed anticipate engaging customers through social media in the next 3-5 years, a dramatic increase from just 16% who currently do so. This would make social media one of the dominant customer engagement tools, behind only face-to-face interaction, and ahead of websites and call centers.
Consumers who have used social media for customer service are more engaged and vocal in speaking about their experiences than the general population, says American Express in May 2012 survey results, and the Allstate survey appears to back this finding up.
Further data from the survey reveals that social media users are more likely than the average respondent to have talked about a negative product or service experience in person with friends, family or acquaintances (87% vs. 81%), and also more likely to have posted a review or comment online (47% vs. 34%) and posted something on social media (31% vs. 22%). These findings are significant, considering the importance these users place on reviews and comments when making new purchase decisions.
Luckily, social media users are even more apt to take action after a positive experience with a product or service. 56% have posted a review or comment online and 41% have posted something on social media.
About the Data: The Heartland Monitor Pol was conducted May 19-23 via landline and cell phone among a national sample of 1000 adults aged 18 and older. 640 were active social media users.
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