Monday, 19 October 2009

Two Third of Internet Users Worldwide Socialise Online, with Women Dominating

Online socialising has become a well-established pastime and amusement among all age groups. About 65% of the 1.1 billion worldwide internet users older than 15 years visited at least one social networking site during May 2009, according to a survey conducted by comScore. An average user spent 3.7 hours per month on community platforms visiting 525 pages.

Interestingly, Russian web users showed the highest involvement in social networking with an average of 6.6 hours per month. The survey did not suggest any reasons for that high engagement, but it may be attributed to political or sociological reasons or simply to the novelty of those platforms for a large user population. The United Kingdom (4.6 hours) and Germany (4.5 hours) followed on the ranks 7 and 8, whereas Swiss Internet users only spent 3.2 hours on average on community websites. In the UK nine out of ten internet users aged between 25 to 34 years old visited a social networking platform each month (source: comScore May 2009).

Contrary to the common misbelieve that men dominate the internet world, it seems that women call the shots as far as social media is concerned (various sources, e.g. Pew Internet & American Life Project, Inside Facebook). However, marketers will be disappointed to hear that a woman’s buying decision seems to be resistant to product recommendations given on social networking platforms. According to the “Women’s Survey”, carried out by QInteractive, 75% of the women using social media claimed not being influenced (i.e. the sum of not really and not at all) by social networks in their purchase decisions (see illustration below, click on chart to enlarge).

The online buying decision was much more influenced by factors such as coupons and discounts (~ 42%), product ratings and review websites (~ 22%) than by advice from friends (~ 8%) or blog posts and online communities (4%). The survey further found out that women rather use social networking platforms for sending private messages to friends and sharing photos with their friends instead of talking about their latest shopping experiences and sharing product information. The survey does not provide data to what extent men’s buying decisions are influenced by social networks.
But isn’t a man's shopping behavior a mystery anyway which has its roots somewhere in the age of hunters and gatherers? ;-)

Also on Facebook, one of the world's most popular community platforms with more than 300 million active users, the female users outnumber the men. However, new male users apparently join Facebook at a faster rate than their female counterparts and therewith closing the gender gap gradually.

About half of the Facebook population of both sexes is aged between 18 and 34 years. With an increase of 14% Austria and Germany have seen the biggest growth of Facebook users in Europe from September to October 2009. About 12% of all Austrians use the Facebook platform regularly (source: Inside Facebook) for communicating with their friends and sharing photos, videos and other events worth telling.

Considering these figures and the still growing popularity of social networking platforms among the internet users it is hardly surprising that many tourism businesses and organisations are getting eager to shift their marketing activities to online social media.

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