12 social media statistics that will rock your world

We hear the big numbers
all the time – 80 million users for
one network, 800 million for another –
but all too often that's all there is. We're
left with a sense of the scale of social
media but not why it really matters to our
businesses. In the following selection,
we've chosen some killer statistics you may
not have come across and we'll show
why they matter for you.

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1. Over 70% of the internet population use social networks

Source: InSites 2011
What this means for you: It can be tempting to look only at usage stats for the likes of Facebook and Twitter. In reality, however, it is the total proportion of social network users that’s important. What this statistic shows is that social networking is now well and truly mainstream. So if your business is not out there engaging in social channels, you’re missing the most important conversations.

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2. In Europe, 50% of people are a member of just one social network (and that’s normally Facebook)

Source: InSites 2011
What this means for you: Concentrating your efforts is important. Whether in marketing, sales or customer service, you need to be where your customers are. Importantly, however, your customers may not be in a buying frame of mind when they’re on Facebook. If you sell high-end computer equipment, you may be better off focusing on niche forums where people actually want to talk about your products.

The key is to monitor the major social media platforms to see where your customers and prospects are. Then commit your resources accordingly.

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3. Google+ already has 60 million users

Source: Marketo blog post Dec 2011
What this means for you: While it’s tempting to focus simply on the established networks, don’t forget that newcomers can (and do) disrupt the status quo. Think about what Facebook did to Myspace.

Don’t dismiss new social channels or wait until they become mainstream. Keep an eye on the fast-growers too. You might find opportunities to get in early and gain an advantage.

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4. Peak usage for Twitter is between 2pm and 6pm

Source: Marketo blog post Dec 2011
What this means for you: Twitter is a near real-time medium – similar to SMS text. So if you’re providing customer service via Twitter, you need to make sure you have enough people for the peak period in any local market.

Being aware of peak times for each channel will help you plan your resources and your social media activities. After all, who wants to tweet into a void?

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5. The average Facebook session lasts 37 minutes

Source: InSites study 2011
What this means for you: People are spending increasing amounts of time online. However, each individual session is relatively short-lived. Social media sites enjoy longer sessions than any other sites, but they’re still just a small slice of your audience’s day. You need to be able to engage with them quickly if you are to gain and retain their attention.

Design your social interactions to be brief and to the point. Don’t expect people to commit an hour for your latest webinar or video.

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6. 36% of people have posted about a brand on social networks

Source: InSites study 2011
What this means for you: Customers are not going online simply to share what they had for dinner. They’re talking about the brands they buy, the products they use and the service they receive. Whether they say something good or bad is largely down to you.

You don’t just want to listen and respond to social conversations around your brands, you also need to encourage your most enthusiastic customers to get out there and share their experiences.

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7. 61% of social networkers are willing to give feedback on brands and products

Source: InSites study 2011
What this means for you: Today, you don’t have to spend a fortune on focus groups to find out what your customers think of your products. Simply engage with them online and they’ll be more than happy to tell you.

A lot of social forums also offer specific survey tools – but simply asking for help can often be the best way to get it. Do keep in mind that your sample you survey may not be representative of your entire target population. But directional insight is always valuable.

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8. 42% of social media users have had a conversation with a brand via social networks

Source: InSites study 2011
What this means for you: Your customers are no longer hesitant about contacting you over a social network. The corporate veil is shredding. Fundamentally, this means you must free your people to talk with customers in more direct, more human ways than ever before. It’s time to park the marketing-speak.

More and more companies are relaxing the rigid processes that funnel every customer to a traditional contact centre. But as the number of people with direct customer contact grows, you’ll need at least some basic policies, training and guidance to keep on the side of good.

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9. 44% of customers want to take part in the co-creation of products

Source: InSites study 2011
What this means for you: You can have access to an active, passionate group of people who want to help you succeed (and who’ll buy more from you if you do).

Ask open-ended questions about features people would like or competitive features you don’t have – or ask for their responses to your new ideas.

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10. The average number of Facebook contacts per user is 133 (on Twitter it’s 59)

Source: InSites study 2011
What this means for you: People know people. While the individual numbers are small, the six-degrees of separation rule shows how friends of friends can balloon these numbers. For example, 288 connections on LinkedIn would give you a network of over 18,000 people. This demonstrates why it’s important to deliver outstanding customer support. Because if you get it wrong, customers can spread the news far and wide.

Some companies keep an eye on the number of followers their social media contacts have. They use this to prioritise response and outreach to customers and prospects in order to maximise positive impact on the social graph in response to good service.

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11. Only 15% of social media users have been contacted by a company after posting a negative experience

Source: InSites study 2011
What this means for you: It’s astounding that so few companies actively try to engage when customers talk about their negative brand experiences. While some just don’t care, the more likely explanation is that they’re just not finding out in time. They’re not listening.

To some companies, letting a negative social media comment or story live on un-answered is tantamount to malpractice. Not surprisingly, these tend to be the companies famous for customer service (a nice reputation to earn).

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12. 79% of consumers have passed on a negative experience and 82% will stop doing business with a company because of a negative experience

Source: RightNow Customer Experience Impact Report 2010
What this means for you: Getting it right matters. A lot.

Social media can help you turn these potential defectors into your most vocal advocates. But you have to get out there and engage!

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