The number of people in the U.S. who use social networks at least once a month will increase 44% to 115 million in 2013 from 79 million in 2008, according to a new eMarketer report. With use already high among teens and young adults, growth will come from boomers, Generation X and tweens.
The social networking audience in the US has reached critical mass. eMarketer estimates that 57.5% of all US Internet users, or 127 million people, will use a social network at least once a month in 2010. By 2014, nearly two-thirds of Internet users will be on board. Marketers have been chasing this audience for several years, but the question remains: Do consumers notice, or care? “Those who still think that social network users are too busy engaging with friends to notice marketers must change their viewpoint,” said Debra Aho Williamson, eMarketer senior analyst and author of the new report “Brand Interactions on Social Networks.” “Brand interactions are real, valuable and growing. “ According to a February 2010 survey by Chadwick Martin Bailey, a market research firm, 33% of Facebook users have become fans of brands on the network.
Most wealthy Internet users in the US are optimistic about the economy going forward, according to Ipsos Mendelsohn, and their online spending has historically been higher than average. That should make them attractive to retailers, which are increasingly turning to social networks to attract customers. But will affluents be as receptive to social marketing as other Web users?
With 71% of Americans using the Internet at least monthly in 2010, US Internet users now closely resemble the general population. Over the next five years, that trend will continue. Overall, eMarketer forecasts the number of monthly Internet users in the US will rise to 250.7 million in 2014, up from 221 million in 2010. More than one-half of new users will be ages 45 and up, as many of the remaining laggards come on board. Among younger groups, the Internet is nearly ubiquitous, and most who are able to access it already do so, leaving limited potential for penetration growth.
Social media has matured to the point where marketers are no longer asking whether it should be part of their marketing mix but how and where they should participate. A clear strategy for the channel is now necessary. “The low cost of social media can lull marketers into improvising solutions,” said Paul Verna, eMarketer senior analyst and author of the Insight Brief “Five Reasons Why Marketers Need to Have a Social Media Strategy.” “But taking account of the time spent debating, formulating, managing and executing social media campaigns—not to mention creating content—makes it clear that money is at stake and a well-thought-out plan is needed,” Mr. Verna said.
A new eMarketer report shows that the number of Baby Boomers embracing social media, especially Facebook, jumped drastically between 2008 and 2009. In its Boomers and Social Media report, eMarketer takes a look at social media adoption among different generations. Results showed that while the percentage of Millennials maintaining a social networking site profile was fairly consistent from 2007 through 2009, the same cannot be said of Baby Boomers’ social media usage.
Money spent on social media-related advertising is already expected to grow significantly this year, and now we also know that the medium is considered the top priority in the digital space according to a survey of senior marketers.
Social networking is one of the fastest-growing activities among mobile users around the world. And as one of the primary ways mobile users communicate with one another, it is proving a significant driver of Internet usage on mobile devices. eMarketer predicts the number of mobile users accessing social networks from their mobile devices will reach 607.5 million worldwide by 2013, representing 43% of global mobile Internet users. In the US, mobile social networkers will total 56.2 million by 2013, accounting for 45% of the mobile Internet user population.
A recent survey from eMarketer.com seems to show that U.S. executives are warming up to social media usage in the workplace. Out of 438 management, marketing and human resources executives polled, 81% saw social media as being useful for both brand-building and enhancing customer or client relationships. Just under 70% see it as a valuable recruitment tool, 64% think social media is useful for customer service, and a lower sampling at 46% saw it as improving employee morale.
While virtual worlds like Second Life still represent a fringe activity in the general market, more than half of the kids who use the Internet will be regular visitors to virtual worlds in just four years, predicts researcher eMarketer.
How can Hulu and similiar online TV network video portals be improved? At the recent Association of National Advertisers' TV & Everything Video Forum, the question was put to eMarketer CEO Geoffrey Ramsey. He spends his days immersed in data reports about online consumer behavior and reactions. He gave the networks high marks for launching portals like Hulu but noted how those sites needed to improve their advertising structures and practices.