Nearly one-third (31%) of social networkers in the UK say they dislike constant requests to join groups and invitations to download applications, according to new research from the UK’s Internet Advertising Bureau (IAB).
On the other hand, the study of nearly 2,000 internet users found that 28% would be happy to join a group if they were offered exclusive content or something relevant and free, and more than one-third (37%) would join a group if there is a genuine interest in what is being offered.
SocNet Users Don’t Want to Pay
Study findings suggest that though efforts need to be carefully targeted, brands do have an opportunity to engage through social media sites, since only 3% of users say they prefer to pay to be a member of a site than see advertising on it, IAB said.
Ad Preferences for Social Networkers
Of the various forms of advertising social networkers prefer, the study found:
- 12% prefer regular banners
- 11% like free music downloads
- 9% prefer sponsored gifts
- 8% prefer banners that offer something free such as video clips or exclusive news
“Regardless of what may be the hot social media property of any particular month or year, social networking has become a core part of our daily lives,” said Amy Kean, senior marketing manager at the IAB. “However, despite its popularity, respect for the user is just as important in social media – consumers will not respond to SPAM or irrelevant advertising.”
Mobile Social Networking Increasing
The study also found that updating social network sites via mobile handsets is increasing, with 25% of all respondents logging on to check or update their pages. Not surprisingly, 16-to-24-year-olds are the biggest mobile social network fans, with 44% saying they have updated via mobile, compared with 17% of those ages 55+.
Opportunities for Marketers
The research points to the fact that marketers need to work harder at providing a reason for people to join their sponsored sites, IAB said, noting the finding that 7% of respondents claim to sign up to find out about brands or products, while only 5% join groups or communities sponsored by a brand or product.
The study also indicates that marketers need greater insights into the effectiveness of advertising in this space, since 16% of respondents say they are “turned off” by irrelevant advertising even though only 5% specifically dislike messages from brands.
Other findings from the survey:
- Though widgets, branded content and applications are relatively new marketing formats, 17% of respondents had a sponsored widget or application on their social networking page, with 15% claiming to have one on their desktop.
- Social networkers have taken on a new role in the purchase decision-making process during the recession: 41% of members say they place more value on ratings/reviews from friends and family on a social network in this recession.
- Staying in touch with friends and family is the key driver for more than three quarters (77%) of social networkers, while more than half (57%) share photos, and half (49%) seek out old friends or acquaintances.
- Nearly? a third (30%) use social networks to monitor activities of friend and family; a quarter (24%) log on to join a group or a community; 16% join to make new friends; 16% to support causes they feel strongly about.
- 12% of respondents dislike the fact that other people can monitor their own activity, which suggests they don’t know about the privacy functions available on social media properties.
- Usage is largely similar by gender, although more men use sites for dating and finding new friends. Women do more communicating with friends and family than men. They are also more inclined to use sites for “monitoring'”and tracking down old friends and acquaintances.
Social Site Usage
The study suggests that more than half the UK online population belongs to at least one social networking website, with almost half of members registered on two or more sites. Other key findings about usage:
58% of the population are members of at least one social network, with more than half (53%) of members belonging to one site, a third (33%) belonging to two networks, while 14% log on to three or more. Looking at the 55+ age group 13% have a membership of three or more sites.
Other findings about UK usage:
- Almost50% of members say they are on a social network at least once a day, with 14% more than once a day. More than a third (35%) log on once a week.
- Women are heaviest users – more than half (53%) – compared witha third (35%) of men -? use them at least once a day. Some 16% of females use them more than once a day compared with 11% of men.
- 68% of those ages 16-24 are on a social network at least once a day. At the other end of the age spectrum, more than a quarter (31%) of over-55s use social sites at least once a day.
- Facebook was cited as the most popular site, but niche communities are growing in importance, with respondents citing diverse destinations such as Mature Times, Hammersmith Community, Loquax, as well as established names such as MySpace, Friends Reunited and Bebo.
About the survey: The survey of 1,909 UK adults, of whom 1,060 are members of social networking or community sites, was conducted online by Opinion Matters using its Tickbox.net panel.