Social media's influence overstated?

A new report from JupiterResearch has questioned the tactic of targeting high value customers through social media sites, saying they may be more traditional in their online behaviour than social marketers think.

The research found that, although nearly 25% of all online adults are classed as influential ‘brand advocates’, they spend more time gathering product information and purchasing items than spreading the word through social media sites.

They also preferred mainstream rather than social media when finding information on products.

Brand advocates have a high rate of online activity - the report found more than two-thirds research and purchase products online, compared to slightly over half of all online users.

But Emily Riley, an analyst at JupiterResearch, said social marketers should use the right tactics to target them.

“Although a high level of online activity may suggest the influential brand advocates would respond to social marketing tactics, they are actually more traditional in their manner of research.

“This group is more likely to read a blog for information rather than create their own; advocacy toward a product or service is most likely to be generated by word-of-mouth.”

David Schatsky, president of JupiterResearch, added:

“Behavioural and content targeting are likely to attract brand advocates, since more than half of this segment is likely to pay attention to online ads that fit their interests or current activity.”

The report is at least partly backed up by an interview we did recently with DoubleClick’s director of research Rick Bruner.

He said the most influential customers tend to consume more media of all forms, not just the web or social media, and that they are particularly receptive to online advertising.

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