Todd Wasserman | Mashable

Internet penetration has leveled off in the U.S., but among the 79% of Americans who are online, more are accessing the Internet daily and for longer periods and interacting with brands more, according to a new study.

The increased usage is good news for marketers: Some 45% of people on social networks say they have interacted with a brand through social media over the previous three months. However, just 7% say they’ve followed a brand on Twitter and 7% say they’ve posted feedback on a company’s social networking profile.

Forrester Research, which executed the study, polled 58,068 US and 5,635 Canadian adults ages 18 to 88 in April and May. The study was a mixed bag for marketers looking to capitalize on changes in consumers’ media consumption.

For instance, among “Gen Zers” (consumers aged 18 to 23) on social networks, 56% have “Liked,” followed, or become a fan of a brand, product, or company, up from 41% in 2011. However, only only 3% of that group have spent any money on a social networking site during a recent visit. On the other hand, members of the “Golden Generation” (consumers 68 and up) on social networks “Like” an average of three brands on Facebook. The average social networker “Likes” an average of nine brands.

There is some industry debate about the relationship between consumer interaction with brands in social media and sales. IBM, for instance, found that Twitter generated zero sales on Black Friday. Proponents of social media marketing — including Twitter itself — have argued that IBM’s methodology is flawed. IBM looked at direct referrals — the site before a transaction — in its study.

Elsewhere, Forrester’s findings weren’t that surprising: Tablet adoption has more than doubled since 2011, for instance and the younger the consumer, the more likely he or she is to be online and engaging in social networks. The study notes that “with 71% of US online adults accessing social networking sites at least monthly, social media is also a normal part of everyday life.”


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