SocNets Still Not Viable Commerce Platforms

June 23, 2009

This article is included in these additional categories:

Analytics, Automated & MarTech | Privacy & Security | Retail & E-Commerce | Women | Youth & Gen X

Though online social networks continue to post dramatic growth, users still see them as as a way to communicate and interact with one another rather than a means for conducting e-commerce, according to the most recent Consumer Internet Barometer report from The Conference Board, Retailer Daily writes.

According to the report, the number of Americans who go online daily has risen during Q209, and 43% of internet users now report that they participate in social networking sites such as Facebook, Twitter and MySpace. This is a 16 percentage-point jump from the 27% of users using social networks a year ago.


Not Just for Kids

The report confirmed previous studies that found online social networking participation has especially grown among users ages 55+. Last year, only 6% of internet users in this age group took part in online social networking, compared with 19% this year. Participation is higher among female users than male users, by a 48% to 38% margin.

Facebook Most Popular

Facebook is by far the most popular social networking site, used by 78% of online social networkers, the study found. Next most popular are MySpace, with 42% usage, LinkedIn, with 17% usage, and Twitter, with 10% usage.

SocNets: No-Commerce Zones

Despite the growing popularity of online social networks, most consumers still do not see them as a place where they look to shop for products and services, or even to be heavily marketed to. For example, members of Twitter say their top reasons for Tweeting are to connect with friends (42%), update their status (29%), look for news (26%), and for work-related reasons (22%). When users are asked with whom they would like more access/interaction , 15% say celebrities, but 14% say their favorite company, and 13% say service providers.


An April 2009 report from Harris Interactive generated similar results in terms of online social networking usage.

This is not to say that social networks cannot be used effectively in marketing and promotional campaigns, the Conference Board said. “Social media will transform marketing as we know it, notedLynn Franco, director of the organization’s Research Center. “They’re powerful communication tools, and are becoming an essential part of successful marketing strategies.”

Top Concerns

The top concerns of about 50% of social networkers are viruses, malware, exposure of information to strangers, and lack of privacy.? According to the Conference Board, women tend to be moderately more concerned than men. Only 14% claim they have no concerns, compared with 22% of men.

A recent study from Cloudmark showed that mobile users are similarly concerned about security and privacy, especially with regard to financial and commerce transactions.

About the study: The Consumer Internet Barometer is based on a survey of 10,000? households, which is conducted quarterly with a unique sample each quarter. Data is weighted as well to reflect the latest US household demographic information. The latest survey was conducted during Q209.


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