Social media sites are on their way to becoming a brand's best advertising medium, according to a new study.
"The Impact of Social Media," a report from Performics, the marketing arm of Publicis Groupe's VivaKi Nerve Center, and analytics firm ROI Research found that 46 percent of social media users have recommended or talked about a product or brand on Facebook, and 44 percent have done the same on Twitter.
The report, which drew on over 3,000 responses to an online survey from social network users, was presented at the Ad:tech conference today. The research found that almost a third of respondents (31 percent) felt social networking sites are great for seeking company and product information.
Thirty percent said they have learned about a new product, service or brand from a social networking site, and 25 percent have gone directly to an online retailer or ecommerce site after learning about a new product or brand.
Additionally, a quarter of participants have recommended a product or brand to friends through social networking sites, while 20 percent have discussed them on social sites after seeing an ad elsewhere.
The analysts behind the research said they were surprised at how high the numbers were. "Brands have a bigger opportunity than people would think-consumers are open to receiving promotions and offers from brands that they've connected with through social networks," said Scott Haiges, president of ROI Research.
He added: "Social networking between a consumer and a brand has created this interesting dynamic where you're making a brand your friend and you're treating like a friend."
Indeed, 27 percent reported being receptive to invitations to events, special offers or promotions received through social networking sites.
As far as which brand messages connect with consumers, freebies and deals dominate. Printable coupons are at the top, with 32 percent of consumers saying it resonates with them. Sales and special deals (28 percent) and offers to win points for some type of online currency (23 percent) follow.
"What's happened in the social space is an extension of search," said Michael Kahn, svp of marketing for Performics. "They may have had a great experience with you or they may post something on Twitter about having an horrendous opportunity with you, but turn that into an opportunity to connect with someone and build a relationship with them."
Kahn said this shows that consumers are willing to be approached in the digital and social networking space with promotions and information about brands. "Find where your audience is and go out there and engage with them to give them things that will get them to buy with you."
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