Is Your Consumer Using Social Media?

Nine Profiles of Who Your Targets Are and Where They Might Be Online

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YORK, Pa. ( -- Raise your hand if you believe social media is an important way to build a brand. Now raise your other hand if you're still not sure how to do that properly.
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Photo: Pierre Desrosiers

Some 88% of marketers who use social media plan to spend more on it this year.

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Most people probably have two hands in the air right now. Put them down; your cubemates think you're crazy.

While marketers may not be spending huge marketing dollars on social media yet, they know they should be using it to reach consumers. Coremetrics' "Face of the New Marketer" study found that 78% of marketers see social media as a way to gain a competitive edge, but fewer than 8% have budgets devoted to it.

However, that may be changing. Some 88% of marketers who use social media plan to spend more on it this year, and 31% of those said they will spend "significantly more," according to Prospero Technologies research.

The question is: Where should a marketer spend to reach its consumers -- and how does a marketer know if its consumers use social media?

Simmons Research, an Experian company, has chronicled the predilections of consumers in its National Consumer Study since 1960, and recently added social media to its survey. That includes social-networking sites, blogs, message boards, podcasts and e-mail. Simmons agreed to slice and dice its volumes of data for Advertising Age to identify social-media consumer profiles. The first five are from its bank of 38 consumer personalities; the others are pulled from demographic data.


These people are generally unhappy with their lives and feel alone. Not surprisingly, they fall at average or below average for e-mailing. But that doesn't mean they eschew social media. In fact, they're 12% more likely than the average person to use blogs, message boards or social-networking sites. They also post comments on blogs at least twice a month; personal, music, consumer-product and video-game blogs are most visited.


This group buys what others are buying and likes to follow styles and trends. They use social-networking sites to meet like-minded people, express their views, get music and entertainment recommendations, and keep in touch with family and friends. They rate average in e-mailing friends and co-workers but above average in using e-mail to communicate with their parents. They are 23% more likely to instant message and download music.


This is eager to try health and wellness products, experiment with diets, and spend to look younger. The majority are under 50. They prefer reading blogs over posting comments or creating their own blogs and prefer to read about TV shows, video games, music and art/literature. They also like social-networking sites: More than one-fifth visit them more than twice a month.


Clearly they prefer to buy products in recycled packages and eschew products that pollute. They are average users of social networking, blogging and podcasting but slightly above average in message boards. They are older (50-plus) and are most likely to go online for health or financial information. And in the spirit of their eco-friendly attitude toward trees, they're 23% more likely to send electronic greeting cards.


This group shies away from buying unknown brands just for a bargain and prefers to buy brand-name goods. They're very average social-media users, but some subjects of interest drive them to social media more than the average person: They're 21% more likely to read environmental blogs and 22% more likely to use professional-networking sites to make new contacts.


They're 25 to 49 and have at least one child living at home. They use social media for a variety of reasons, including staying in touch and parental guidance. They visit parenting blogs five times more often than average. They're also active on social networks, blogs and chat forums but tend to stay away from podcasting. They visit blogs once or more a week and create their own blogs at a higher than average rate.


These 50-plus consumers with college degrees and household incomes of more than $100,000 are low-level social-media users. They are almost 40% less likely than the average person to have read blogs, visited chat forums or instant messaged and 70% less likely to have visited a social network in the past month. One of the only places they skewed higher than average were professional networking sites.


It makes sense that people in the market for a home would look online for information about not only real estate but other products involved in home ownership. But Experian found that this under-35 set also includes very active social networkers, bloggers and message-board users. They also rank high in texting, podcasting and business networking. They use social networks to keep in touch but also to find information.


Unsurprisingly, both sexes index high for dating sites, but women are more likely to visit social networks than men. Divorced women are also 20% more likely to buy something online, while men are 52% more likely to visit sports sites. Neither is into blogs or chat forums, but women communicate more than average via text message, while men use e-mail 45% more than average to communicate with their children.
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