Last Updated Jun 8, 2011 3:24 PM EDT
The fact that LinkedIn is cited as the most important is particularly interesting given that LinkedIn users don't visit the site nearly as often as Facebook users.
- Of the social networks studied, only MySpace was visited less frequently than LinkedIn.
- Some 20 percent of respondents said they visited LinkedIn daily, compared to 70 percent for Facebook.
- Half of respondents visit linked in every day, but 97 percent visit Facebook daily.
After LinkedIn, Twitter, YouTube, Facebook and MySpace were listed as 'most important,' in that order. But study respondents were not asked to choose one social networking site over another. Instead, they were asked "How important to you is having an account on each of the following?" The differences between sites were generally just a few percentage points.
Still, it's a nice vindication for LinkedIn, which until its initial public offering was often perceived as the dull, corporate-minded sibling of more entertaining sites like Facebook. Daina Middleton, CEO of Performics, said that high unemployment, an economy that appears to be slowing, and LinkedIn's recent IPO all contributed to its popularity.
How We Buy
The larger focus of the study was to get some new information about how people use social networking sites to make decisions about what to buy and to communicate with companies. Some of those findings:
- Comparison shopping thrives on social networks. Some 59 percent of respondents said they use social networks to compare prices, and 56 percent use the sites to tell people about sales.
- Online referrals matter. Some 60 percent of respondents said they were at least somewhat likely to take action when a friend posts something online about a product, service, or company.
- Feedback comes through social networks. Some 53 percent of people said they use social networks to communicate with a company or retailer at least occasionally, and 52 percent think they can influence business decisions made by companies by making their opinions known via social media.
- Companies are persuasive on social networks. About one-third of people said that interacting with a company via social media made them more aware of that company's efforts to be eco-friendly.
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Kimberly Weisul is a freelance writer, editor and editorial consultant. Follow her on twitter at www.twitter.com/weisul.