Social networking is one of the most important activities—online and offline—among US social network users, based on results of Beresford Research’s “Use of Online Social Networks” white paper.
Among online activities, only e-mail was more popular than social networking. Chatting and even Web browsing ranked lower.
When asked to compare online social networking with several offline activities, social network users only found going out with friends more important. That put social networking ahead of real-life activities such as playing games, reading, watching TV and playing sports.
Beresford reported that posting photos was the top social networking activity, with 81% of respondents taking part, followed by responding to the posts of others and posting their own thoughts or activities. One-quarter linked to a company, product or service on a social network, and, notably, 38% reported clicking on paid advertisements.
Users put great trust in their social networks. One-half of Beresford respondents said they considered information shared on their networks when making a decision—and the proportion was higher among users ages 18 to 24, at 65%.
“This is a particularly important finding,” according to the report, “in that it suggests that these younger users have integrated social networks into their lives to such an extent that it has become a trusted resource for their decision making.”
While the results refer to decision-making in general, not just purchase decisions, they suggest a much greater reliance on social networks than earlier surveys. A March 2009 study by Knowledge Networks, for example, found that between 10% and 24% of US social media users turned to social networks when making purchase decisions about various categories of products and services. Less than 5% said they “always” did so.
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