8 Social Media trends Researchers SHOULD know about

As a market researcher are you missing the BIG picture?

social mediaToday social media platforms have reached at a stage where it is impossible for any market researcher to ignore them in terms of enormous amount of consumer insights they can provide. Where traditional researchers can ignore the topic by stating that ‘social media is just an incoherent noise’ but they do so at the risk of alienating a growing consumer base that is expressing themselves on these platforms.

Today let me share with you an important report which can help convince even the sceptics about the validity of social media for research purposes. In Nielsen and McKinsey’s Social Media Report, consumers were surveyed to discover how they use social networks. Here are 8 key trends that are worth mentioning.

Trend 1: Mobile usage to access social media is on the rise

The research survey found out that in terms of accessing social media the consumers preference for Mobile is on the rise. Although PC is still the most popular option to access the social media but the numbers have dipped when compared to previous year. For consumers the social app time has increased by 76% and almost 37% increase in the total time spent on social media when compared to previous year – this implies the consumers are becoming more engaged. Mobile apps are where increasingly majority of the consumers are spending their time.

Social Networking is all about mobile

Most important finding: Ignore mobile to engage consumers at your own risk.

Trend 2: The rise and rise of Pinterest

Often when we talk about social media platforms it generically implies Facebook, LinkedIn or Twitter but this report is quite an eye opener – Pinterest leads the pack with Google+ and Tumblr showing considerable growth in numbers. Pinterest had the largest year-over-year increase in audience as well as time spent across all devices (PC, Mobile Web and Mobile App). A May 2012 Harvard Business Review article titled, “Moving customers from pinning to purchase,” states that:

“Pinterest users reported a surprisingly high correlation between pinning and subsequent purchasing: more than 1 in 5 Pinterest users has pinned an item that they later purchased. In the social world, this is a high conversion rate.”

Pinterest Rocks!

Most important finding: Identify the right social media platform for your audience.

Trend 3: Close network matters

An interesting find is that the majority of the connections over social media platforms are build on the premise of ‘knowing’ the person. Therefore we may follow celebrities but mostly we prefer to connect with people we probably know.

why we connect

Most important finding: Consumers are more likely to be connected with similar demographic profiles.

Trend 4: A positive feeling of engagement

A very noteworthy finding of the survey is that 76% respondents experienced positive feeling after engagement on the social networks. Some of the words which describe their experiences are – energized, happy, informed, excited and amused.

Consumer emotion

Most important finding: Social networks are rich with consumer’s sentiments which have to be tapped.

Trend 5: Twitter drives Social TV

As per the survey Twitter has emerged to be the most influential platform of ‘social TV’ interaction. It implies that when consumers are watching their favourite TV shows or important news item they use Twitter to express their thoughts. If we look at the Twitter activity trend from January-June 2012 it has increased from 26% to 33%.

Twitter Rocks!

Most important finding: Do not ignore the active social interaction over the Twitter.

Trend 6: Social care is the new mantra

The research study shows an interesting aspect of customer service – one in three social media users prefers social care to contacting a company by phone. Some of the channels to access social care are – Facebook (company’s page), Facebook (user’s personal page), Official Company Blog, Twitter Personal Handle (no @ mention of company) and YouTube (company’s channel).

Social Care

Most important finding: Customers are constantly seeking social care and this important aspect can be harnessed by researchers to get insights. 

Trend 7: Mixed response for social media ads

Consider this fact – where 33% of respondents find ads on social networks to be annoying 26% are more likely to pay attention to an ad posted by a friend. Also important to note is that 17% respondents feel more connected to a brand seen on social networking sites. In terms of demographies US-Asian consumers are more prone to a positive response for social ads, where as white consumers are least likely to take action when exposed to social ads.

social advertising

Most important finding: Social ads are an integral component of any new marketing activity to reach consumers therefore it is imperative to measure its inherent effectiveness by researchers.

Trend 8: Significant change in the consumer decision journey

It cannot be ignored now that social media is transforming the way consumers make purchase decisions. The social networks have provided consumers a wider audience of friends and peers to consult before the purchase decision is being made. As the research study reports that 70% of the respondents listen to other consumers’ experiences and with 65% finding more information about brands/products/services it is logical to conclude that social networks are significant purchase decision influencers.

consumer decision journey

Most important finding: Social networks are important platforms to research consumer decision making process.

Akshay Kanyal

Akshay Kanyal

Akshay Kanyal writes survey research reviews on his popular blog Online MR. He’s an avid blogger, brand consultant and a content marketing expert, helping business owners to craft content that sells.

He provides content marketing advice to start-ups and innovation driven companies. He can be contacted at editor@onlinemr.com

You can also connect with him on LinkedIn ; Facebook ; Twitter


  1. Great article Akshay – very informative. Thanks

  2. Superb post! Many confusions got cleared out through this blog. Thanks for sharing! All the 8 social media trends discussed were well stated and efficiently described