Social media is evolving. What began as a way to "hang out" with friends online has morphed into an entirely new platform for communication, information sharing, and marketing. Businesses are quickly discovering that if they want to reach the youngest demographic, Generation Y (born after 1979), they had best get online. But maintaining a web presence alone isn't enough anymore. According to new research from August 2008, web retailers are now actually trying to engage that demographic segment using social media.
Want To Market To Gen Y? Get on Facebook
According to to a research from shopping comparison site PriceGrabber. Some 85% of Gen Y respondents said they participated in social networking, and 57% reported involvement with blogs. In order to market to Gen Y, web retailers are now starting to use social media to do so. According to an August 2008 survey by Internet Retailer, 39.3% of retail respondents use social networks for marketing purposes, 32% have a page on Facebook, 27% are on MySpace, and 26% are on YouTube.
Shouldn't Those Numbers Be Higher?
While it's encouraging to see web retailers reaching out to the youngest shoppers in this way, those number still seem sort of low. Do only 39.3% of retailers need to sell to Generation Y customers? We think that number should be higher.
So why aren't more brands involved in social media yet? Is the problem that they're still learning how to use these tools or is it that they don't have room in their budgets for non-traditional marketing and advertising campaigns? Perhaps it's a little of both. But another big issue to take into account is fear. Companies have relied on one-way communication methods for years as the method of reaching their customers. Social media, however, demands a two-way conversation. That means giving up some control, yes, but it also means there's an opportunity for increased loyalty when done correctly. When someone feels like their voice is being heard, there's the potential for having a customer for life.
Another reason it's important for brands to listen to their customers is because there are now more ways than ever for customers to share their experiences with others online. A 2008 study conducted by the Society for New Communications Research for Nuance Communications found nearly three-quarters choose retailers and products based on others' customer care experiences shared online. In addition to word-of-mouth and other trusted sources like Consumer Reports, respondents found information about others' customer care experiences online in the following ways:
Who's Doing What
It's interesting to see micro-blogging sites on that chart above - you wouldn't have seen that even a year or two ago. Twitter, of course, is the main micro-blogging site of interest these days, at least here in the U.S. We looked at companies using Twitter for customer service not too long ago, and since then even more companies have come on board.
However, if you're really interested in following companies that use social media for marketing, the best resource we've found so far is this extensive list collated by Peter Kim which, as of October 4th, includes 237 companies actively using social media for marketing purposes. At some point, though, we hope that making a list of involved companies will become impossible to do because they are just too many of them. Apparently, we're not there yet.
Data in this article courtesy of eMarketer
Image credit dollar sign, by pfala