Survey Sheds Light On Canadians’ Views Towards Social Media

A new survey released today shows that Canadian business leaders plan to invest more in social media in 2009, while increasing numbers of Canadians see social media tools as important for learning about products, services, organizations and brands.

Increased social media spend planned by marketers

The second annual Social Media Barometer survey, conducted by Pollara and com.motion, shows that 82 per cent of the Canadian business and marketing leaders who responded plan to spend as much or more on social media in 2009 compared to this year. That’s up from 51 per cent in the 2007 survey. Also, more than three quarters indicated that senior management supports greater investment in social media.

Interestingly, the only other communications discipline that showed a net increase in planned spending in 2009 was public relations, while banner, newspaper, radio, TV and magazine advertising show over a quarter of respondents plan to decrease spending in those disciplines.

Trends in marketers' planned media spend for 2009

This may be due, in some small part, to the other significant trend revealed by the survey…

Social media seen as more credible

The survey also gives some interesting insights into Canadian respondents’ use of social media.

While Facebook unsurprisingly rears its head as the top social network for Canadians (with 87 per cent of social media users having tried it), the survey showed that 13 per cent of social media users have tried Twitter.

One result that is surprising, though, is that the same proportion of respondents (65 per cent) rated social media tools as important for learning about products, services, organizations and brands as rated them important for developing relationships. Interestingly, in 2007 more people viewed social media as important for products than for relationships (59 per cent compared to 52 per cent).

Methodology concerns

With all that said, I need to offer a caveat around the methodology used for the survey.

This survey – on social media – was conducted online, which is akin to asking Democrats how they voted. It’s hardly surprising that people who responded to an online survey indicated they think online tools are important.

I would love to see this addressed in future surveys – as things stand the credibility and applicability of the results is reduced by the methodology. While the trends revealed here are useful, and the survey offers a useful insight into the views of online consumers, as it stands the results aren’t really translatable to Canadian consumers as a whole.

What do you think about the trends highlighted by the survey?

(Disclosure: com.motion and its parent company Veritas Communciations are competitors of my employer Thornley Fallis. Thanks to Keith McArthur for the information on the survey)

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  • Dave – Thanks for taking the time to write about the poll.

    After reading your methodology concerns, I checked in with Robert Hutton, executive vice president at Pollara Strategic Research, which conducted the survey.

    He told me this issue – of online versus offline results – comes up regularly. But he said there is no evidence in any polling research to suggest that there would be any meaningful differences between the two. This is especially true in the case of the consumer data where we’re talking specifically to the subset who say they have used social media.

  • Keith – thanks for the response, and for checking-in with Pollara – that was very helpful of you.

    I’m with you on the data relating to the subset of social media users – that data is very useful and very interesting.

    As far as generalizing it out to the ‘average Canadian’ goes, that’s still something I’m not sure I’d do. While that issue may come up regularly with other surveys, this one specifically relates to online tools. It might not matter as much if you’re asking about eating habits, but asking the online population whether they use online tools is clearly going to skew the results (as much as it pains me to say so, because the results are very encouraging).

  • Darren Kelly

    This survey seems to quantify what those of us who have been working in social media that last couple of years have felt in our gut – marketeers are tired of old media’s promises of audience and effectiveness. Hold on to your hats (or tuques, in the case of Canadians), folks, the money is starting to flow where brands can actually have an impact.

    -DK

  • Interesting stats there, and as a business owner in Canada already promoting and using social media, encouraging to see.

    Yet I’d agree that the figures, while encouraging, are also not telling the whole story. Just because someone goes online to read an email doesn’t mean they’ll use Twitter (or are even aware of it).

    Same goes for Friendfeed, Google Reader, Stumbleupon, BackType and so many more tools. Pretty much all household names for anyone in social media, but what do they mean (if anything) to the average person or business professional.

    Perhaps an email poll or some form of online market research would offer more substantial figures?

    Not that I’m demeaning the findings or results – far from it. But while I and others here believe in social media and its numerous benefits, I still feel we’re the minority among the majority.

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