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Social networking followers more likely to buy/recommend - study

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26th Mar 2010
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Customers that use social networking sites to follow a brand are more likely to either recommend or buy from them after becoming fans, according to a new study.

But the survey of more than 1,500 consumers undertaken by iModerate Research Technologies and commissioned by analyst firm Chadwick Martin Bailey found that most respondents followed only a handful of companies. Some 75% of women and 65% of men supported less than five, while a mere 11% of females and 12% of males followed more than 10.

Of those that did sign up to a given brand, however, some 60% of Facebook fans and 79% of Twitter followers were more likely to recommend them as a result. Just over half of the former compared to three quarters of the latter were also more likely to buy from them.

Josh Mendelsohn, vice president at Chadwick Martin Bailey, said: "While social media is not the silver bullet that some pundits claim it to be, it is an extremely important and relatively low cost touch point that has a direct impact on sales and positive word of mouth."

As a result, those companies that chose not to engage with customers in this fashion were missing a "huge" opportunity and were – whether intentionally or not - indicating their willingness to interact with consumers on their terms.

Interestingly, however, there were significant gender differences in terms of the motivation behind signing up to different brands in the first place. The primary reason that male Facebook users did so was to either show others that they liked or supported their company of choice (23%) or because they were existing customers (22%).

Males Twitter users, on the other hand, were more interested in being the first to know information about a brand (29%) or receiving possible discounts and promotions (23%).

Such findings contrasted with those of female respondents, however. Women were generally most keen on receiving discounts and promotions no matter what channel they used (30% of Facebook users and 34% of Twitterers).

But one in five women Facebook customers also joined the party because they were existing customers, while 17% of female Twitter fans were most interested in gaining exclusive access to content.

Other noticeable differences between male and female Twitter users were that men were nearly twice as likely (32%) as women (17%) to follow a brand in order to be part of a community of likeminded people. They were also nearly three times (13%) as likely as women (5%) to use the medium to try to resolve customer service issues.

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