Though many big brands are diving headfirst into social networks with hopes of enhancing their image, an overwhelming 96% of employed consumers say their opinion of a product brand does not change if that brand has no presence on a social networking site, according to a study from WorkPlace Media.
In fact, just 12% of respondents say their opinion of a brand actually changes if that brand maintains a significant social networking presence and only 11% of social networkers report following any major brand through a social networking site.
Moreover, while 25% of respondents have recommended a business or a product on a social network and 33% have received a recommendation, only 18% say they have actually acted upon a such a recommendation,? WorkPlace Media said.
These findings from the “Brand Impact Social Networking” study, suggest that big brands may face an uphill battle in moving the perception needle because “the overall impact of a brand’s presence on social networking sites was shown to be minimal in terms of impact and perception.”
To this point, a recent blog post by Caroline McCarthy, entitled “Social Media Will Not Get Me to Eat Your Gross Pizza,” also appears to anecdotally confirm this sentiment.
The research, which polled office internet users, revealed that 55% maintain at least one social networking account (Facebook, MySpace, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc.). However, of these social networkers,? only 43% report accessing their accounts at work – a place where they spend a large chunk of their day and are potentially open to many other types of brand messages. Even among those with social-network access, 78% report spending less than 30 minutes per day on their social networking site(s).
Additional survey findings:
- When asked what appeals most about social networking, the leading response (89%) was that it “allows me to stay connected to friends/family.”
- Of the 18% who reported acting upon a business or product recommendation on a social networking site, the leading categories were: Entertainment (53%), dining out (50%), groceries (23%), beauty care/cosmetics (21%), apparel (20%), electronics (15%) and pet care (15%).
“When it comes to influencing brand perception and purchase decisions, the data shows that social networking still has a long way to go,” said? Stephanie Molnar, CEO of WorkPlace Media. “Most of our meaningful recommendations continue to be old-fashioned, word of mouth recommendations from friends, co-workers, and/or family.”
Recent research from Mintel confirms this assertion, finding that real-life product and brand recommendations still beat out those found online.
Similarly, a study by the Conference Board found that 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.
About the survey: The survey was conducted by WorkPlace Media in May 2009 among 753 American workers who have access to the internet at work.