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Social Media and Brand Evanagelists

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Countless authors, speakers, bloggers, podcasters and other advocates of social media have pointed out that companies should focus on their biggest fans and that social media like blogs-along with other Internet tools-are ideal channels for such outreach.

Yahoo! and comScore Networks have released research today that validates that point of view. “Engaging Advocates through Search and Social Media” makes the connection between effective use of the Net as a marketing channel and influence of brand advocates. Specifically, the study found (according to the press release):

  • The Net has had a significant impact on how customers research and recommend brands.
  • The Net amplifies Word of mouth so this trusted form of communication reaches larger audiences.
  • The Net has given rise to brand advocates as primary influencers. Two brand advocates convert friends or family members to buy a product or brand for every one ordinary customer.
  • Brand advocates are better connected and have a larger sphere of influence, elevating their value to marketers.

The study defines a brand advocate as

…adventurous opinion leaders and social influencers who are slightly younger, more educated and affluent, and spend more time online than non-advocates. They represent approximately 36 percent of the online purchasers surveyed across four categories including consumer electronics, automobiles, vacations and home mortgages. Brand Advocates are more active searchers and conduct 48 searches per month on average compared with 39 searches per month for non-advocates. In addition, half of Brand Advocates use search engines to research prior to purchasing, compared with one-third of non-advocates. By investing in the research process, Brand Advocates feel more satisfied with their decisions post-purchase, and therefore, are more compelled to talk about them.

The study is a bounty of statistics supporting the value of targeting brand advocates. For example, the research found that half of brand advocates talk online to friends, family, and strangers about the focus of their passion, and 60% think good brands are worth talking about (vs. 26% of non-advocates). And-the part we social media advocates should like-the numbers show that brand advocates are fully emgaged with social media (ranging from instant messaging to podcasts) and using them in their product-related efforts. What’s more, brand advocates are far more likely to say something positive about a brand they like than they are to wax negative about brands they don’t.

The methodology applied to the study-detailed in the press release-is particularly impressive.

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Shel Holtz is principal of Holtz Communication + Technology which focuses on helping organizations apply online communication capabilities to their strategic organizational communications.

As a professional communicator, Shel also writes the blog a shel of my former self.

Social Media and Brand Evanagelists
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