12 Sep Impact of Social Media
Impact of Social Media
Despite widespread usage by individuals and businesses, as well as large amounts of media coverage, there is still skepticism about the value of social media. To many, social media are the purview of a small minority of young people, typically university students. Viewed through that prism, many question whether social media are a shift in communication or merely a passing fad. In order to understand how prevalent social media are, one only needs to look at the numbers.
FACEBOOK alone has over 500 million active users. In terms of sheer population, that is significantly more than the number of people who live in the United States, and behind only China and India.
Almost 50% of Canadians are on FACEBOOK and over 900,000 Canadians signed up in May 2010 alone. FACEBOOK is the second most visited site in the world, behind only GOOGLE. In Canada and the United States, FACEBOOK is visited more often than GOOGLE.
Over two million Canadians are on LINKEDIN. TWITTER is one of the top 10 most visited sites in Canada. In recent months, TWITTER has seen the number of “tweets” grow by an average of 16% per month.
The idea of social media as an arena of young people is not evidenced by the numbers in recent reports. The average age of a social network user is 37. 61% of FACEBOOK users are aged 35 or older and the average age of a TWITTER user is 39. LINKEDIN, with its business focus, has a predictably high average-user age of 44.
Not only is the scope of social media usage enormous, it is growing. A June 2010 study found that Americans spend nearly a quarter of their online time on social networking sites and blogs, a 43% increase from the previous year.
Businesses have also jumped on board the social media bandwagon. A recent report by the Retail Council of Canada indicated that just over two-thirds of Canadian retailers are using social media sites to reach their customers.
Businesses have come to realize that consumers are increasingly turning to social media for product review. Over one-third of people who use social media have employed it as an outlet to rant, or rave, about a company or product. Nearly 50% of social media users say that reviews by friends or people they “follow” on social networking sites sway their interactions with companies or products.