Social is the New Norm: Social Media in 2011

Brian Solis shared some interesting statistics about the State of Social Media in 2011 and that it’s now a “new norm”.  In fact, its unlikely we’ll keep calling it “social media”, as everything will soon just have a social component to it.  I’ve noticed the hype around social media is dying down, which is a good thing.  However, I’m still always intrigued when I discover people who are not yet embracing social media for what it could be – even from a personal branding perspective.  I mean, Brian’s post noted that Facebook’s 800M users is now as large as the entire Internet was back in 2004.  Yikes.

I gave a presentation last week at ISA’s Automation Week (summary here by Jim Cahill) where I talked about social media in automation.  I shared some data from a survey I completed earlier in the year – and general usage for the automation engineering community broke down like this:

No surprise Facebook was on top – primarily for personal use. But other social networks like Twitter that has good potential for engineer-types have lagged in adoption.  Based on some conversations I had with several folks at that event,  there is a confusion factor that can overwhelm users at first.

The real issue around late adoption is that our customers are moving in this direction, and by not knowing how to use the social networks, we are at a disadvantage.   The flip side is that we are also customers and have the option to tap into this power too.

Brian notes:

But as social media becomes part of our cultural fabric and even as we witness businesses, governments,sports teams, and almost every organization socialize communication efforts today, much of what we see is merely the beginning of something that will one day become something far more important than the medium itself. Indeed, social media is affecting behavior and nothing is more important than the ability to influence decisions and ultimately behavior”

Brian summarizes some statistics from a Nielson study:

1) Skeptics will now be recognized as laggards as they now officially stand in the way of progress. According to Nielsen, and well, reality, social media isn’t a fad. The report opens with a key finding that social networks and blogs dominate how Americans spend their time online, which accounts for nearly 25% of their total time spent on the Internet.

2) Four out of five active internet users aka everyday people visit social networks.

3) Looking beyond the U.S., in 10 major global markets, social networks and blogs reach over 75% of active Internet users.

4) 60 percent of people who use three or more digital means of research for product purchases learned about a specific brand or retailer from a social networking site. And, 48% of these consumers responded to a retailer’s offer posted on Facebook or Twitter.

5) 70 percent of active online adult social networkers shop online.

Bottom line is that this is truly becoming a norm in the way we communicate and do business.  What was also interesting was the way people are accessing social media, with 37% using mobile devices.  This growth will only increase since we live untethered to our laptops and PCs.

Source: Nielsen Social Media Study

I know that I’ve come to depend on social networks for both personal and professional learning and sharing.  I also use it for researching products and services and seek other opinions before making a buying decision.  Sometimes these choices are simple ones, like a book on Amazon, other times its more significant.   And while the data is still sketchy about how engineers research products and services for their work/business, it is anticipated that social media and blogs will become more of a mainstream approach to researching a brand, its reputation, and its products and services.


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