The study was unique in its approach of looking at both the consumer and
PR practitioner sides of the social media relationship; looking for gaps and
overlaps in PR practitioner perception and the consumer-reported reality.
More than 1,500 Canadian consumers were surveyed on issues ranging from
how often they use online communications tools, to how social media has
influenced their purchasing decisions. PR Practitioners were asked how they
thought consumer users would respond. In order to ensure the integrity of the
research, only those consumers and PR practitioners who engage in social media
were invited to participate.
This Canadian Social Media Reality Check illuminates some surprising and
challenging assumptions on the state of social media in 2009.
“Our goal was to combine our expertise in the fast-evolving business of
online news with Leger’s renowned communications and media research
capabilities, to shed light into important questions we have all been asking
about the use and impact of social media,” said Carolyn McGill-Davidson,
President and CEO of CNW Group. “We found the results both startling and
reassuring in almost equal measure. There is some encouraging validation in
here and a number of remarkable insights into the real state of social media
An overview of Social Media Reality Check key findings:
Social media is growing
49% of consumer social media users and 62% of practitioners use social
media at least once a day, consumer use grew by 48% year-over-year.
Social media is influencing purchase decision making
61% of consumer social media users turn to social media when researching
Social media is credible
31% of consumer social media users and 55% of practitioners agree that
social media is more credible than advertising. This was one of several
interesting points of divergence between the views of users and PR
professionals – a gap that will be explored in more detail when the full
results are released.
Social media for news and information is important
63% of consumer social media users use social media to keep up-to-date on
news and information; 40% are using it to engage with organizations in a
Social media users are still loyal to the more popular tools
Facebook is the most popular social media space for consumer social media
users (77%) followed by YouTube (65%) and MySpace (20%).
Social media has broadened its demographic
42% of consumer social media users 45 years and older are likely to use
online channels to research products, significantly more than younger
Social media has untapped opportunities for PR practitioners
69% of PR practitioners feel they understand social media but could be
using it more effectively; 70% of PR practitioners do not have a tool to
monitor social media and only 29% know who their organization’s key
online influencers are.
“Leger Marketing is thrilled to have partnered with CNW Group on this
research,” said Dave Scholz, Vice-President and General Manager of Leger’s
Toronto office. “It’s rare to have an opportunity to look at two sides of the
communications or transactional relationship,” added Scholz. “It allows us to
go beyond the ‘how much’ or how good’ and get into the ‘with what effect’. The
study paints an encouraging picture: social media use is high and rising, it’s
credible, it’s influencing purchase decisions. Great news for practitioners
who say they see the value in social media, despite the fact that most aren’t
yet working with objectives, monitoring or measurement.”
The Social Media Reality Check Study was completed as a partnership
project, as opposed to paid research. Full findings from the study will be
published as part of a joint webinar to be hosted by CNW Group and Leger
Marketing on April 29, 2009. For more details and to register for either the
webinar or to receive a full copy of the survey findings, please visit:
To join the ongoing conversation on the Social Media Reality Check prior
to full release of the results, see the related post on the mesh conference
blog – http://www.meshconference.com/blog/.
This survey was conducted among 1,516 users of social media and 615
practitioners. With a sample of this size, results of the user study can be
considered accurate to within +/-2.5% and results of the practitioners can be
considered accurate to within +/-4.0 %, 19 times out of 20.