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Consumers Pushing Companies into Social Media.

Results from a recent "Invoke Live!" study among 300 social networkers show that consumers clearly expect their favorite brands to be social media active and savvy.

BOSTON -- There is no doubt that social media has become an ideal environment for enabling people to stay connected with friends, family members and work colleagues. But now it seems that social networking in general is being redefined as a way to promote interactions between companies and their customers.

Invoke Solutions, a leader in large-scale online qualitative market research, recently conducted one of its "Invoke Live!" sessions among 300 active users of social media to understand the state of social networking from the user's perspective. Among the many findings, what stood out was the degree to which tools such as Facebook and Twitter are being used by social networkers to promote communication with companies, in addition to friends and family members.

The study showed that 65% of participants follow a company or brand on Facebook and 47% had posted a comment on a company Facebook page. And while Facebook is clearly the epicenter of the social networking universe today, with 78% mentioning it when asked what they associate most with social networking, Twitter is also growing in relation to company-customer interactions. Over 31% of social networkers stated that they follow a brand or company's Tweets, with strong evidence that this percentage is increasing.

Further, participants who follow companies on Twitter were more willing than the average participant to leverage the full spectrum of social media outlets to engage brands when they have a comment or complaint, with 47% posting comments on their own Facebook page, 68% commenting on a companies' page, and 25% tweeting and even blogging about brands. This suggests that the use of Twitter may be a bellwether of the truly socially engaged.

"We all knew that social networking was a driving force in interactions between people. But the degree and speed to which consumers have accepted social networking as a way to communicate and exchange information with companies is startling," says Peter Mackey, Invoke's EVP of Research. "And what's more, the companies that do it well are seeing increases in customer satisfaction and positive perceptions of those brands, while those that don't are paying a price in terms of missed opportunities and decreased satisfaction."

As evidence, the following comments are some of many given by participants when asked if they had ever used social media to post a comment to a company:

* "I commented on Nabisco's Facebook page about how wonderful the 100 calorie packs are and they sent me a coupon for a package for free."

* "I had a couple problems with my new dishwasher. I called the 800 number and they blew me off so I made contact through Facebook page and they responded and fixed the problem. I guess they didn't want to get a bad reputation."

* "I commented on the Lands' End Facebook page about a slow order and they took care of me by providing me a free shipping code for my next order."

* "I usually leave compliments to a company on their Facebook page. I have left positive comments for companies like Seventh Generation and Olay. I left the comments because I truly enjoy their products. I did receive a response from Seventh Generation, but not from Olay."

* "I had an issue with an airline treating me badly, so I posted it on my wall and theirs. The company did not respond."

"One would have expected to see some push back from social networkers about the 'corporate take over' of social media. We saw very little of that," said Mackey. "In fact, the acceptance of a company presence is even found in the high degree of trust consumers have of that presence, with only 17% saying they distrust the Facebook postings of a company, brand or product. It will be interesting to see if that trust erodes as more companies embrace social media and the quality of interaction degrades."

"Invoke continues to dig deep into consumer insights on a broad range of subjects, and our discovery methodology and research business model allow us to draw out trends and insights in advance of general market awareness. Normally we apply these techniques for our clients in confidential programs and analysis. 'Invoke Live!' is a trademarked program in which we conduct our own research for the general benefit of industry," said Basil Bennett, CEO of Invoke Solutions.

To review an executive summary of Invoke's report about social media's impact on business today and in the future, visit: http://info.invoke.com/social-media-executive-summary-2.

To download the full 45+ page report from Slideshare, go to: http://www.slideshare.net/invokesolutions/hyper-social-networking-report-slideshare-version.

About Invoke Solutions, Inc.

Invoke Solutions is a respected leader in technology led marketing research known for its online, real-time, large-scale qualitative research expertise that helps industry leaders make key decisions about their products, communications, and strategies. "Invoke Live!" utilizes the technology of Invoke's Engage Live to create a research event that brings together key stakeholders and between 50 and 250 participants for a highly engaging interactive research session. To learn more about Invoke Solutions, please visit http://www.invoke.com. To learn more about Engage Live, please visit: http://www.invoke.com/index/products_online.
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Publication:Business Wire
Geographic Code:1U1MA
Date:Aug 4, 2010
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