According to key findings from the 2010 Social Media Matters study conducted by BlogHer, Inc., with design and analysis consultation by CustomerImpact, social media usage, and its influence on purchasing decisions, continues to grow. Reaching more than 20 million women each month (Nielsen Site Census, March 2010), BlogHer is the leading participatory news, entertainment and information network for women online.
The study of 1,876 BlogHer Network community members focused on:
”Social media is now a go-to resource for women to both seek and share opinions, advice and recommendations to one another,” said Elisa Camahort Page, BlogHer co-founder and COO. “As social media interactions exert more influence over women’s purchasing behaviors, marketers are finding social media to be the most fertile environment in which to reach that most powerful consumer: The American woman,” observes Page.
BlogHer and CustomerImpact found that close to 100% of study participants from the BlogHer Network are either the primary decision-maker or share responsibility for household purchase decisions. Looking at the factors that respondents indicated were very or somewhat influential in their purchase decisions, it is clear that having conversations with friends and family (91%) and visiting a store in person (87%) continue to be at the top of the list.
Blogs, however, come in right behind these two resources, with 80% of participants citing them as very or somewhat influential. Unsurprisingly, the survey findings confirm the continuing trend away from traditional advertising and information channels. Newspapers, TV, Magazines, and Product Advertising were among those cited the least often.
What are the characteristics of these BlogHer Network community members? In general, they are younger, more affluent, and better educated than the total U.S. online population. Most significantly, the amount of time they engage in blog-related activities is staggering. BlogHer Network community members are involved weekly or more frequently in writing their blogs (68%), posting comments on others blogs (68%), and reading blogs (96%).
And they do not confine their online efforts to blogs. They are also very active with top Social Media platforms, such as Twitter (52%) and Facebook (83%). Asked what media destinations they visit for the following activities, BlogHer Network community members share a breadth and depth of involvement in various Social Media. For example, if looking for information, 73% of study participants visit blogs, 47% visit message boards/forums, and 37% visit Social Networks, e.g., Facebook. More specifically, in describing which online sources were best suited to helping them make a purchase decision, 41% chose blogs, and 55% selected blogs as best suited to finding out about new products.
Observes Monica David, CustomerImpact VP, “The message is clear. Companies must understand what media destinations their current and prospective buyers are relying on, understand and provide relevant information on those sites, and ensure that the information circulating on those sites is accurate. This involves engaging with customers across traditional and new channels, as well as connecting customers with other customers to create communities. The goal is to increase brand awareness, increase brand loyalty, protect their brand’s reputation, as well as improve the customer experience in order to increase revenues.”