You Are Expected To Have A Social Media Presence

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"93% of online Americans say companies should have a social media presence and 85% believe these companies also should be interacting with consumers through social media."

That was the lead sentence from the news item, Americans Expect Companies to Have Social Media Presence, from Marketing Charts today. This information was taken from the 2008 Cone Business in Social Media Study. Here are some other statistics from this report:

  • Companies should use social networks to solve my problems (43%).
  • Companies should solicit feedback on their products and services (41%).
  • Companies should develop new ways for consumers to interact with their brand (37%).
  • Companies should market to consumers (25%).

Overall, this report gives a healthy thumb’s up to Social Media and how it works with Marketing:

“All of this is great news for marketers,” said Mike Hollywood, director of new media for Cone. “Men and younger consumers are traditionally the most challenging to reach, while the highest-income households are typically very desirable; here they are saying ‘come market to us and interact with us online.’ This is really a license to put more energy and resources into this medium and do it effectively.”

That comment was based on some of these findings:

  • 60% of Americans interact with companies using social media (one in four interact more than once per week).
  • 56% feel both a stronger connection with and better served by companies when they interact via social media.
  • One-third of younger, hard-to-reach consumers (age 18-34) believe  that companies should actively market to them via social networks.

Cone is a "strategy and communications agency engaged in building brand trust" and is part of the Omnicon Group. And the survey was "conducted September 11-12, 2008 by Opinion Research Corporation among 1,092 adults comprising 525 men and 567 women 18 years of age and older."

Does this sound a little too rosy to you?


  1. Being a 25 y.o. man, lot of 40+ y.o. representatives in retail store don’t care about me when i enter. Same thing when i call somewhere for financial services. I am often treated like a young kid or like s**t.
    So I’m very opened to connect with companies via social networks because i will know that this company cares for me.

  2. This is a great post Mitch. I haven’t heard of such compelling statistics before for companies and brands to get involved in social media.
    I work with clients on a daily basis that are very skeptical to get involved. Statistics like these will definitely help companies that are not involved be more open to the idea.
    Thanks for posting!

  3. This report does smell like roses.
    First, I would love to know a few more definitions. How do they classify “online Americans” and what exactly do they mean by “social media”. If I asked my twitter friends about their feelings on the topic I would get a much more rosy result than my if I asked the same questions to my business school friends. All of whom are online.
    It seems that their definition of “online Americans” represents a smaller slice of the overall market. On the bright side, this report shows the strong feelings of that important and vocal slice of any target market, towards online social mediums.
    Any company that says social media isn’t a major player in any market is suffering from ostrichitis.

  4. The news release says the results are from an “online survey”…would be nice to know more about the methodology.
    Still, these are impressive numbers if you’re trying to make a case for using social media, but perhaps at the risk of overselling the concept and potential uptake.
    Thanks for sharing.

  5. I agree that this sounds a little optimistic.
    For me, corporate use of social media is only a “should” when there’s a strong, pre-established “community” feel to a brand, or when the audience/consumer base is already there (“fish where the fish are”).
    Should Enbridge Gas, for example, be involved in social media? I don’t know/care, and I’m a customer. I just want them to deliver the product safely and at a reasonable price. Frankly, I’d rather they *not* have a strong social media presence, and instead invest that capital in more efficient infrastructure, lower rates, improved customer service through existing channels, etc. Same thing for Loblaws, Shoppers Drug Mart, Chapters, all kinds of brands I like and interact with frequently.
    I think it’ll be awhile before my attitudes shift from “okay, nice, whatever,” to “should” where corporate use of social media is concerned.
    I also think these results could be strongly skewed by respondents’ individual definitions of “social media.” It’s kind of disappointing that the article/report gives no indication as to how that term was used in the context of the survey.
    — Jeni

  6. I’d also love to see some clearer definitions and understand the methodology used. It seems rather skewed to me.
    It almost seems like it’s encouraging brands to have open day with advertising in Social Media Networks, with no mention of using those networks for creating relationships, creating community, two-way conversations and connections with their audiences, for example improving customer service and overall brand experience. Many brands still think it’s about advertising and PR except using Social Media.
    Personally I don’t enjoy brands inserting themselves into my social networks (e.g in my Facebook feed) unless I ask for them, which I don’t. So I find the third bullet even harder to believe. And when I look at how poorly targeted most FB ads are…
    However I would interact with a brand on their blog or a community, or even enter an interactive well targeted contest if it was meaningful to me. I am for brands having a social media presence using what their audience uses. But I find it hard to believe that users are saying in such large numbers “come and market to us, here we are.”

  7. Why not ask the 10 million Canadians on Facebook? I’d be very careful about using these statistics to justify more intrusive and interuption based advertising. It’s encouraging but I’m a bit skeptical especially since it’s an advertising firm that’s behind the research.

  8. I’m not sold on the idea of “YOU MUST BE ON FACEBOOK”.
    On a local marketing site, an agency was trumpeting the fact that the Facebook group it had set up for a national Banking Institution was essentially being exposed to “millions” of people each day. The reality is that of those “millions” only 165 people were members of that group and less than 10 were interacting with the group.
    And that’s what Facebook is about: engaging interaction. If you’re not interacting there’s no point to being on Facebook or any other social media platform.
    Oh another tip: that first bullet point makes no sense. I would think people would rather have their problems solved in real-time. That’s my 2c.

  9. It’s merely joining the conversation and being willing to open yourself up to criticism, which is a gift.
    The numbers really don’t matter that much. This is the future, it’s happening now and we all need to test it. It will evolve. Each business and/or community will create their own platform, using some of today’s tools, and creating some new ones.
    Exactly the kind of thing happening here. Though there are only a few comments at this moment… those people represent hundreds, maybe thousands, of others – and if they blog this… the social media result is achieved.
    Numbers lie.

  10. Great statistics and an eye-opener to corporations. Still in its budding stages, we can wait and watch it soar up in the near future. It often surprises me to find a corporate tweeter or social media manager interacting and answering questions..very cool.

  11. Yes far too rosy.
    I think the survey group they have used appear to be the sort of people who use social media a lot and understand it very well (most people do not understand the terminology or the tools)
    The headline is hard hitting however almost a third of Americans have no internet (fact)
    and in your other article
    it is claimed that
    ” Only 7% of customers who had a problem while conducting an online transaction shared their experience on a Blog or online social network.”
    As always with these surveys anything can be proven…. and I think people are far too hung up on the tools (rather than the people / customers / users / personas).
    I also feel that most Companies still use them as a broadcast medium rather than engaging in conversations or are wishing to control the conversation.
    Mike Ashworth
    Small Business Marketing Coach and Consultant
    Brighton and Hove, Sussex, UK

  12. It sounds a little to rosy to me 🙂 … i mean i do understand that SM is on the rise and i think it will some day be a vital piece of marketing/pr and support/services … but to say that SM is some how already a large part of how companies communicate is a stretch.

  13. Hi Mitch, I recently came across this same study on the site, and then used the information in that article to create a slide I used in presentation. It was pointed out to me that this study is with ONLINE Americans (which you correctly note), but a fact which the article entirely omits. I should have checked my facts better before trusting that source. Once you view it through the Online Americans filter, the numbers make much more sense.

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