The number of people participating in online social networking (OSN) is booming, a new report from independent market analyst Datamonitor has revealed.
The UK has the highest membership in Europe and it is forecast to almost triple by 2012 to 27 million.
Social media provide consumers with the opportunities to enhance existing relationships and create new ones. Interaction is a key factor in a network’s success, as shown by the success of sites, such as MySpace and Facebook, which encourage user-generated content.
While the trend is driven by the younger age groups, many older generations are also being drawn to social media.
Datamonitor expects the UK to see the strongest growth in numbers in Europe over the next five years. UK consumers have been quick to embrace the new technology, and many social networks are only available in the English language when starting up.
Several important factors are behind the very strong growth seen in OSN memberships. The convenience of being able to socialize without leaving the home has proven appealing to consumers, many of whom are beginning to spend more time using the
Internet than viewing traditional media such as television. Many consumers also enjoy the expressive freedom given to them by social networking sites, and user-generated content is crucial to the success of these networks.
“Consumers are creating and joining existing social communities which, if harnessed correctly, can be an important marketing tool,” said Matthew Taylor, Consumer Markets Analyst at Datamonitor and author of the report.
The wealth of information stored on online social networks provides many potential benefits for marketers.
This potential has been recognized for a while, but many companies remain unsure regarding the best way to approach this relatively new media.
As a result, the success of campaigns through social media has so far been mixed.
If used correctly, social media can be used to create a more personal connection with consumers and effectively promote products.
The potential also exists to generate viral word of mouth recommendations - a device which is among the most trusted to the consumer.
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