Thursday, October 02, 2008

The internet has made us all influencers

Reflecting Forrester's Groundswell report, Universal McCann has released a study detailing how the internet has turned all customers (citizens) into influencers.

Titled INTERNET USERS, THE NEW INFLUENCERS - When did we start trusting strangers? (PDF), the study included around 17,000 internet users from 29 countries, finding that enmasse customers have moved from being passive consumers of products and services to active participants in their creation and evolution.

This has been characterised by three trends,
  • the rise in social networks,
  • the importance of digital friends, and
  • the proliferation of influencer channels.

This has led towards the 'democratisation' of influence online - making every internet user both a potential creator of content and influencer of others.

The study found that organisations needed to reach out to internet users, becoming,
  • transparent and honest,
  • participate in the conversations,
  • encourage customers to share their opinions, and
  • approach and collaborate with new content creators.

A slideshow is available as below...

Key findings included,
  • 44% of people surveyed have a blog (compared to 28% in 2006),
  • 57.5% have a page on a social network (compared to 27% in 2006), 
  • 42% download video clips (compared to 10% in 2006),
  • 34% of users share their opinions about music, and
  • 55% share their photos online

Internet users do not rely on brands to inform themselves. 
  • While 69% visit brands’ official websites,
  • 82% prefer to search for information on a search engine 
  • 55% prefer to read people’s comments on personal profiles on social networks like Facebook.

The preferred methods for exchanging information about a product were,
  • via instant messaging (44.5%),
  • via email (42.4%),
  • followed by blogs (30.4%), and
  • social networks (27.6%).

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