Consumers Prefer Social Media to Email, so Should We

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by: Matt Rhodes

I was the expert blogger in this week’s edition of Management Today on innovation in business. Having written about the Nielsen Global Faces and Networked Places report earlier this week, I decided to build on this post about how social networks and online communities are more popular than email.

The report from Nielsen clearly highlights the growth in consumer use of social media – it is now visited more regularly than email with one out of eleven minutes worldwide (one in every six minutes in the UK) spent on these sites. This is for structural and behavioural reasons – people using different sites for different purposes, and people using social networks and online communities to find and connect with people rather than just sending mail – but what can business learn from this change in consumer behaviour. Well, probably a lot. As I write in the Management Today article:

When I speak at marketing conferences, I like to ask the audience whether they spend more on email marketing or on social media. The answer is almost always email, and this is a shame. Not only are social networks and online communities increasingly part of everyday life, they can also be a better way of engaging customers. Email is very much in the ‘push’ marketing category, while online communities and social networks engage people. Most importantly, they encourage peer-to-peer marketing, which we know people trust more than messages from any brand.

In the current economic climate, businesses should innovate to stay ahead of their competition. This is a great time for trying new things and an even better time for adapting and changing the way we behave to better meet what our customers want and what our customers do. They are using social media more than email and doing thanks to both changes in technology and changes in their own behaviour. We should adapt our own approach to marketing to and engaging with customers to capitalise on this change.

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