Conducted by Anderson Analytics, the survey of 5,000 US social media users found that Facebook “far exceeds” the other three major social networking services (SNS) in terms of popularity and value for users.
According to the report, an estimated 110m people in the US – or 36 percent of the total population – are regular users of social networking sites, which positions the medium as a valuable brand-building avenue for consumer goods manufacturers.
Out of those surveyed on their preferred SNS, 75 percent voted for Facebook, followed by MySpace (65 percent), LinkedIn (30 percent) and Twitter (12 percent).
Only 29 percent of respondents said they could “probably do without” both Facebook and LinkedIn, compared to 43 percent for Twitter and 35 percent for MySpace.
According to Anderson Analytics, its findings back up the growing practice by companies to use social media for brand-building and promotion.
Many firms – including food and beverage manufacturers – have started creating social networking site profiles or widgets for this purpose.
The study found that fifty percent of participants said they have followed a commercial service, product, or brand on a social networking site.
“These efforts seem to be paying off, but the results are somewhat mixed: almost half of users surveyed (46 percent) report saying something positive about a brand on a social networking site, while just under one quarter (23 percent) have said something negative about a brand,” writes Tom Anderson, managing partner of Anderson Analytics.
Internet for food
As part of the survey, participants were asked about the products they had purchased online during the past 12 months. Overall, SNS users were more likely to purchase goods online compared to non-users.
For example, some 31 percent of SNS users said they had purchased food online over the past year, compared to 22 percent of non-users. In addition, 25 percent of SNS users have purchased cosmetics products online compared to 13 percent of non-users.
When asked about online interest in food or cooking, 32 percent of SNS users reported using the internet to investigate these. This is broken down into 29 percent of LinkedIn users, 31 percent of Facebook users, 34 percent of Twitter users and 33 percent of MySpace users.
The report, conducted as part of Anderson Analytics’ new AA-Social Media service, is part of the group’s efforts to help its clients better understand the reach and overlap among major social networks.
“Even if you’re not actively marketing using social networking sites yet, a critical first step is to understand which of your customers are on what networks and how they view the medium,” said Anderson.
To access more information on Tom Anderson’s blog, click here.