Survey Says!

We recently conducted a survey on our readers’ use of social media tools.  I know I promised you the results in October, but I’m a firm believer in "under promise, over deliver" so here they are slightly early.  Be aware that the results are highly unscientific but they’re interesting anyway.

First, we asked for your demographic "generation".  Here’s the breakdown:

  • Generation Y (Born from 1981 to the present)   9%
  • Generation X (Born between 1965 and 1980)    26%
  • Baby Boomers (Born between 1946 and 1964)   59%
  • Radio Generation (Born before 1946)                6%

We asked about reading blogs and listening to podcasts. Across all the groups, 85% of you read blogs and 47% of you listen to podcasts.  Somewhat surprisingly, the three younger groups read blogs at about the same rate, all 85% or more.  When it comes to podcasts, the split between generations is more like you would expect. Where gen X and Y read blogs and listen to podcasts at very similar percentages, Xs and Ys are much more likely to listen to podcasts.  Here’s what it looks like.

Blog__podcast_usage

This was a bit of a surprise.  Slightly more than one out of four of you have a blog (26.4%).  But, in our survey at least, half of the blogs are written by boomers and half are written by gen xers.  But remember that twice as many responders fall into the boomer category.  So, percentage-wise, gen x is blogging at about twice the rate of boomers.  The big surprise is that none of our gen y’s blog.

When it comes to podcasting, it seems like retailers are mic shy.  Not a podcast in the bunch. 

Because of the small numbers, I’ve put Facebook, My Space, and LinkedIn together.  To make a long story short, most of you don’t use any of them.  MySpace has a slight edge with gen X, but that’s not surprising.  The lack of interest in Facebook and LinkedIn is a little puzzling, though, especially among Xs and Ys.

The so-called "mini blog" sites, twitter, Jaiku, and Pownce are gaining in popularity, but evidently not among retailers. (They’re called "mini blogs" because each post is limited to just 140 characters). The numbers of survey responders using these three services were almost too small to measure.

Then we come to online forums.  This is where it gets interesting.  You guys (and gals) seem to love online forums.  Across the board, 94% of you participate in forums.  Even though we specifically invited members of the VacHeads forum to participate in the survey, that’s still a big number.  Of course, a forum is basically a combination blog, mini-blog, and networking site.  All it lacks is the audio of a podcast, and some forums even have that.  So, while it may seem that we’re behind the curve when it comes to social media, that’s not really true.

Of course, the downside of most forums is that they’re walled gardens.  You can’t get in without an invitation.  While we can communicate very nicely with our peers, we’re invisible to our customers.  That’s where the other services come in.  Consumers are reading blogs and listening to podcasts.  Some are even creating their own.  They’re on the social networks, forming networks of like-minded people, and they’re following one another on sites like twitter.

There are two ways we can reach them.  We can run expensive traditional advertising in the hope that our target audience will get off the Internet long enough to read the newspaper or listen to the radio, something that becomes less likely every day.  Or, we can be where they are, online, in the communities where they’re talking about one another, often talking about us. 

None of these tools are hard to use.  Many are free.  None are expensive.  There’s a small learning curve, but if you’re smart enough to run a business, your definitely smart enough to write a blog, or set up a Facebook page.  It takes some time, but not that much.  Here’s at MYOB, we’ll continue to keep you up to date on the tools.  What you do with them is up to you.

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