Friday, June 18, 2010

Mobile phones spearheading social media phenomenon

NEW DELHI, INDIA: Around 30 percent of India's young social networkers access networking sites from their mobile phones. This is an indication of the growing need to stay connected and hence the importance of mobile phones in the ever-converging technology and communication space.

According to a Social Media survey conducted by Indiabiz News & Research Services (INRS) covering over 350 respondents in Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata, Chennai and Bangalore, the popularity of micro-blogging sites such as Twitter seems to be limited to celebrities. Linkedin, according to the survey, has a greater following. This could be attributed to the business networking focus that this networking space is known for.

The survey also re-affirmed the perceived dominance of Facebook. It took the first position in terms of usage.

There have been a number of questions on actually what individuals do on social networking sites and why do they seem to spend a significant amount of their time engaging on such sites. The survey attempts to answer some of them.

The findings establish that most individuals seem to decide things on their own and do not follow trends per se. About 63 percent of those who took the poll have never engaged with Communities, Groups and Fan pages on networking sites. Among these, more than half join on their own will and a miniscule (11 percent) would only follow brand endorsements by their friends. And, only 15 percent say they trust the information provided.

Despite the efforts of companies trying to push their brands in the social media space, nearly half of the respondents do not associate themselves with any brand or product.

About 37 percent of the respondents belong to the 26-30 years age group. And almost 35 percent of them were professionals with mid-level jobs. Perhaps, that explains the importance of LinkedIn, a business networking platform that helps its users in establishing contacts and connections related to jobs and business opportunity. The vote in favour of LinkedIn (45.8 percent) was way above either YouTube (36.5 percent) or Twitter (29.6 percent).

Even as more and more people are joining the online networking space for professional reasons, the most dominant reason to join the club is to stay in touch with friends. Almost 90 percent of the users join such sites to follow or stay in touch with their friends. And, nearly 80 percent follow their friends for their pictures.

More than tweeting, blogging is becoming a popular choice among thinkers and debaters. A large number of users (45 percent) are reading or writing blogs to express ideas and opinions. Almost 70 percent of bloggers spend half-an-hour per day -- mostly for gaining information. The top five categories of blogs are entertainment, current affairs, personal, fashion and technology, in ascending order.

So, despite the hype surrounding the emergence of social media as a preferred mode of brand promotion, chatting and tracking pictures of friends and relatives still top the chart as the most preferred activities. However, that should not serve as a deterrent to marketers.

With more people joining the bandwagon, buzz can be created on the Net through online games, quizzes and e-mails. Netizens also would prefer companies communicating through corporate blogs (41.4 percent), videos/pictures (40.3 percent) and emails/messages (37.3 percent).

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