New Research Provides A Social Media Reality Check

CNW Group and Leger Marketing today announced the results of new research into social media use in Canada (disclosure: CNW Group is a client).

The research provides a useful insight into social media trends along with some of the challenges that social media faces, but also sheds an interesting light on the differing perspectives between practitioners and regular social media users.

The top-level results are available online now. The full results will be released in a webinar on April 29 (register through the site).

Some key findings:

  • 49 per cent of social media users use social media at least once per day
  • 31 per cent of users agree that social media is more credible than advertising
  • 61 per cent are researching products to purchase
  • 36 per cent depend on social media to help them with purchase decisions
  • 40 per cent are “talking” to or learning from specific organizations
  • About one-quarter of users feel better about an organization that is engaged in social media
  • 89 per cent of users say they use social media the same or more than they did last year.

Once you dig down into these top-level facts, though, it gets more interesting.

User/Practitioner Gap

Social media is highly influenced by practitioners. For example, 19 per cent of social media users say their opinions are influenced by social media outlets, while 53 per cent of practitioners said the same – a significant difference. Similar, though smaller, differences show through in responses to other questions.

The implication of this is that practitioners often think that other people find social media to be more credible than they do in reality. 

There’s a gap between social media practitioners’ perceptions and those of users. However, given the time that social media has been around, the proportion that are influenced by social media is a good start.

Measurement is uncommon

Practitioners are generally only using broad objectives – there is a lot of room for improvement.

As well, few practitioners using social media tools are measuring what they do, and even fewer are going beyond looking at traffic. Interestingly, few managers are asking for this at this point. You can differentiate yourself by proactively digging deeper.

Room for improvement

While practitioners have a higher awareness of social media and its uses, they still think they, and organizations could use it better.

  • Few practitioners have a dedicated budget for social media
  • Few are monitoring social media (which astonishes me – I see it as a foundational piece for social media engagement)
  • Few practitioners are using social media for community building – most use it for marketing (although the lines blur in my eyes

Interesting stuff.

Which points stand out for you?