Speak Now or Forever Hold Your Tweets

Two in five say they aim to influence others when they express their preferences online

New York, N.Y. — June 3, 2010 /PRNewswire/ — As of last week, Twitter’s 105 million users had collectively sent 15 billion tweets. Earlier this year, Facebook reached over 400 million active users—more members than the populations of Japan, Mexico and Russia, combined. Given these numbers, it's not surprising that nearly two-thirds (64%) of online Americans use social media, and most social media users (84%) reveal information about themselves via social media channels.

Not only are many Americans sharing updates about their life (43%), what they are currently doing (36%), and places they are going (31%), many are also revealing brand, product and company preferences. Specifically, about one-quarter are revealing their dissatisfaction with companies, brands or products (26%), talking about companies, brands or products they like (23%) or giving product reviews and recommendations (19%). In fact, one-third (34%) indicate they have used social media as an outlet to rant or rave about a company, brand or product.

These are some of the findings of the Harris Poll, conducted online between April 28 and 30, 2010, among 2,131 U.S. adults ages 18 and over.

However, it's not just what people are sharing about themselves through social media; it's why they are sharing. Nearly two in five online adults (38%) say they aim to influence others when expressing their preferences online and almost half (46%) feel they can be brutally honest on the Internet.


Sharing Brand, Company or Product Recommendations via Social Media

While online Americans aged 55 and older are less likely to use social media compared to younger Americans (43% of those 55 and older, versus 78% of 18-34 year olds, 71% of 35-44 year olds and 59% of 45-54 year olds), all age groups who use social media are equally likely to share their dissatisfaction with a company, brand or product via social media (25% of those 18-34 years old, 26% of those 35-44 years old, 25% of those 45-54 years old and 29% of those aged 55 and up).

And what people say online about companies, brands and products matters. In fact, nearly half of Americans who use social media say reviews about a particular company, brand or product from friends or people they follow on social networking websites influence them either a great deal or a fair amount (45%) – the same number as Americans who say reviews in newspaper or magazine articles influence them (46%).


Younger Generations Aim to Be Heard Online

Many people who express their preferences online do so with the intention of influencing others. Nearly two in five online adults (38%) say they aim to influence others when they express their opinions online, including nearly half of 18-34 year olds (45%). In fact, it seems 18-34 year olds are less hesitant to voice their opinions, as half (51%) say they feel like they can be brutally honest on the Internet, compared to two in five of both 45-54 year olds (41%) and those 55 and up (40%). Additionally, over two in five 18-34 year olds (44%) have used social media as an outlet to rant or rave about a company, brand or product—much more so than those 55 and up (16%).


So What?

While most Americans don't reveal everything about themselves via social media, it can be a good place to start to gauge people's preferences. In fact, even though they may not reveal everything, 83% say they know that by participating in social media, they are giving up some of their privacy. With this in mind, as the social networking world continues to grow, it will be increasingly important for companies to use social networks to better understand their audience.

Despite some of the differences between younger and older Americans in their use of social media, a majority of Americans (78%) agree that what they reveal about themselves on social networking sites is just a snapshot, not a complete portrait, of who they are. Because of this, companies cannot rely on monitoring social media alone to hear their customers’ voices. Rather, it is important for companies to get the 360 degree view of their target audiences through a variety of mediums, including social media sites.


TABLE 1
USES SOCIAL MEDIA

“Which of the following, if any, do you share about yourself through social media? When thinking about social media, please think of blogs, microblogs, message boards, comments you leave on articles, social networking websites, and photo and video sharing websites. Please select all that apply.”


Base: All online adults

 

Total

Age

18-34

35-44

45-54

55+

%

%

%

%

%

Use social media (NET)

64

78

71

59

43

I do not use social media

36

22

29

41

57



TABLE 2
PERSONAL SHARING IN SOCIAL MEDIA

“Which of the following, if any, do you share about yourself through social media? When thinking about social media, please think of blogs, microblogs, message boards, comments you leave on articles, social networking websites, and photo and video sharing websites. Please select all that apply.”


Base: All online adults who use social media*

 

Total

Age

18-34

35-44

45-54

55+

%

%

%

%

%

Any (NET)

84

87

84

80

82

Updates about my life

43

52

46

37

28

My age

43

47

39

41

40

Pictures of what I’ve been doing

43

51

49

34

24

What I’m currently doing

36

45

40

21

27

Places I am going

31

38

33

23

21

Links to articles I like

30

33

30

26

29

Recommendations about fun things to do

30

32

34

27

25

TV and movie recommendations

29

36

28

22

23

My dissatisfaction with a company, brand or product

26

25

26

25

29

My political views

25

24

22

26

30

The companies, brands or products I like

23

23

23

26

21

My religious beliefs

23

27

17

22

22

Product reviews and recommendations

19

18

18

18

24

Information about myself that I wouldn’t normally tell people face-to-face

6

7

6

5

2

Embarrassing questions I have that I would never ask someone in person

4

5

5

2

1

Other

8

8

10

10

4

None

16

13

16

20

18

Note: Percentages may not add up exactly to 100% due to rounding.
*64% of all online Americans use social media; 36% do not.


TABLE 3
SOCIAL MEDIA USES

”Please indicate how strongly you agree or disagree with the following statements.“


Base: Variable base

 

Agree (NET)

Strongly Agree

Somewhat Agree

Disagree (NET)

Somewhat Disagree

Strongly Disagree

Not applicable

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

I understand that by participating in social media, I’m giving up part of my privacy
Base: Adults who use social media

83

41

42

9

6

3

8

What I reveal about myself on social networking sites is just a snapshot, not a complete portrait, of who I am.
Base: Adults who use social media

78

45

33

11

7

4

11

I feel like I can be brutally honest on the Internet.
Base: All online adults

46

16

30

36

20

16

18

I aim to influence others when I express my preferences online.
Base: All online adults

38

9

30

40

22

18

22

I have used social media as an outlet to rant or rave about a company, brand or product.
Base: Adults who use social media

34

11

22

54

19

35

13

Note: Percentages may not add up exactly to 100% due to rounding.


TABLE 4
SOCIAL MEDIA USES

“Please indicate how strongly you agree or disagree with the following statements.”
Percent saying “strongly agree” or “somewhat agree”


Base: Variable base

 

Total

Age

18-34

35-44

45-54

55+

%

%

%

%

%

I understand that by participating in social media, I’m giving up part of my privacy
Base: Adults who use social media

83

85

87

78

82

What I reveal about myself on social networking sites is just a snapshot, not a complete portrait, of who I am.
Base: Adults who use social media

78

81

82

73

71

I feel like I can be brutally honest on the Internet.
Base: All online adults

46

51

50

41

40

I aim to influence others when I express my preferences online.
Base: All online adults

38

45

39

37

29

I have used social media as an outlet to rant or rave about a company, brand or product.
Base: Adults who use social media

34

44

35

25

16

Note: Percentages may not add up exactly to 100% due to rounding.


TABLE 5
INFLUENTIAL REVIEWS

“In general, how much do each of the following types of reviews influence your decision to use or not use a particular company, brand or product?”


Base: Variable base

 

A great deal/ A fair amount (NET)

A great deal

A fair amount

A little/ Not at all (NET)

A little

Not at all

Not applicable

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

Reviews from family members or friends
Base: All online adults

71

39

33

24

17

8

4

Reviews in newspapers or magazine articles
Base: All online adults

46

12

34

50

32

17

4

Reviews from friends or people I follow on social networking websites
Base: Adults who use social media

45

16

29

51

29

21

5

Reviews on blogs or message boards
Base: Adults who use social media

33

7

26

61

28

33

7

Reviews from celebrities
Base: All online adults

10

2

8

84

19

65

5

Note: Percentages may not add up exactly to 100% due to rounding.


TABLE 6
INFLUENTIAL REVIEWS

“In general, how much do each of the following types of reviews influence your decision to use or not use a particular company, brand or product?”
Percent saying “a great deal” or “a fair amount”


Base: All online adults

 

Total

Age

18-34

35-44

45-54

55+

%

%

%

%

%

Reviews from family members or friends
Base: All online adults

71

69

76

71

71

Reviews in newspapers or magazine articles
Base: All online adults

46

45

48

48

44

Reviews from friends or people I follow on social networking websites
Base: Adults who use social media

45

50

44

41

37

Reviews on blogs or message boards
Base: Adults who use social media

33

41

35

28

18

Reviews from celebrities
Base: All online adults

10

17

8

8

5

Note: Percentages may not add up exactly to 100% due to rounding.


Methodology

This Harris Poll was conducted online within the United States between April 28 and 30, 2010 among 2,131 adults (aged 18 and over). Figures for age, sex, race/ethnicity, education, region and household income were weighted where necessary to bring them into line with their actual proportions in the population. These data were also weighted to reflect the composition of the adult online population. Propensity score weighting was also used to adjust for respondents’ propensity to be online.

All sample surveys and polls, whether or not they use probability sampling, are subject to multiple sources of error which are most often not possible to quantify or estimate, including sampling error, coverage error, error associated with nonresponse, error associated with question wording and response options, and post-survey weighting and adjustments. Therefore, Harris Interactive avoids the words “margin of error” as they are misleading. All that can be calculated are different possible sampling errors with different probabilities for pure, unweighted, random samples with 100% response rates. These are only theoretical because no published polls come close to this ideal.

Respondents for this survey were selected from among those who have agreed to participate in Harris Interactive surveys. The data have been weighted to reflect the composition of the adult population. Because the sample is based on those who agreed to participate in the Harris Interactive panel, no estimates of theoretical sampling error can be calculated.

These statements conform to the principles of disclosure of the National Council on Public Polls.

The results of this Harris Poll may not be used in advertising, marketing or promotion without the prior written permission of Harris Interactive.

The Harris Poll® #74, June 3, 2010
By Whitney Heckathorne, Marketing Manager, Harris Interactive


About Harris Interactive

Harris Interactive is one of the world’s leading custom market research firms, leveraging research, technology, and business acumen to transform relevant insight into actionable foresight. Known widely for the Harris Poll and for pioneering innovative research methodologies, Harris offers expertise in a wide range of industries including healthcare, technology, public affairs, energy, telecommunications, financial services, insurance, media, retail, restaurant, and consumer package goods. Serving clients in over 215 countries and territories through our North American, European, and Asian offices and a network of independent market research firms, Harris specializes in delivering research solutions that help us – and our clients – stay ahead of what’s next. For more information, please visit www.harrisinteractive.com.