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Six in ten consumers (60%) say they follow at least one brand a social networking site and 40% say when they interact with brands via social media they do so primarily to find coupons and special promotionsaccording to a survey from Empathica.

Three in ten surveyed online adults (31.5%) say they follow brands via social media to find additional information about the brand. Fewer consumers do so to communicate with the brand:

  • 7.5% interact to leave a compliment.
  • 4.0% want to suggest improvements.
  • 3.0% interact to leave a complaint.

Meanwhile, women are more likely to hunt for coupons: 46.6% say when they interact with a brand via social media they're most often searching for coupons and promos, compared with 33.4% of men.

Younger consumers are even more interested in deals: 49.5% of those age 25-34 and 45.8% of those age 18-24 say they're most likely in search of coupons and promos when they interact with a brand via social media.

Below, other findings from Empathica's Consumer Insights study, based on a survey of 15,000 online US and Canadian adults.

More than seven in ten surveyed online adults (72.3%) say they use at least one social network. Gender and age play a role in brand following behavior: 64% of online women "follow" or "like" at least one brand, compared with 56% of online men.

Though most consumers follow one to three brands (32.2%), those age 18-24 are the most likely to follow 10+ brands (16.3%).

Top Social Media Activities

Asked to rank the activities they perform most on social networking sites, 47.4% of consumers say their top activity is reading posts and view viewing pictures, followed by playing games (16.8%), updating their profile (12.7%), and commenting on other posts (11.8%).

Only 1.5% of consumers say their top social media activity is making recommendations.

Consumers' top-ranked social media activities also vary by age and gender:

  • 49.2% of women say reading posts and viewing pictures is their top social media activity, compared with 45.5% of men; those age 65+ are the least likely to say so (36.8%).
  • Gaming is higher among consumers age 65+ (27.5%) and those age 55-64 (19.4%).
  • Men (14.5%) are more likely than women (11.0%) to say updating a profile is their top social media activity.
  • Commenting on posts is higher among women (13.4%) than men (10.0%).
  • Quizzes and polls are far more popular among those age 55-64 (8.9%) and those age 65+ (11.5%), but less so among those age 18-24 (1.3%).

Trust in social recommendations is increasing: 37.5% of consumers say they have followed through at least once with a friend's recommendation received via a social networking site.

Some 31.9% of consumers say they have recommended a product or service in the previous three months.

Looking for real, hard data that can help you match social media tools and tactics to your marketing goals? The State of Social Media Marketing, a 240-page original research report from MarketingProfs, gives you the inside scoop on how 5,140 marketing pros are using social media to create winning campaigns, measure ROI, and reach audiences in new and exciting ways.

Canadian Consumers

Canadians are less likely than Americans to make recommendations via social sites: 23.9% of Canadians say they have recommended a brand, product, or service to a friend via social media in the previous three months, compared with 35% of Americans.

Not surprisingly, Americans are nearly twice as likely as Canadians to follow 10+ brands via social channels (12.9% vs. 7.7%). Moreover, 49.5% of the Canadians surveyed say they don't follow any brands at all.

Coupon Hotter Than Ever

Not only is couponing is a primary driver of social media behavior, but it drives online behavior as well, Empathica finds. Some 26.5% of all consumers say they're searching for coupons and promotions more than ever, and that level is higher among women (32.5%).

About the data: Findings are based on a survey of 15,000 North American online adults age 18+ (Americans and Canadians) in the second quarter of 2010.

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