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Studies: Social media use in Canada

CNW Group of Toronto has released the results of a survey into the use of social media by Canadians. The survey, conducted by Leger Marketing, compares the use of social media by professional communicators with consumer opinions about the influence of social media on their purchasing behavior. Facebook and YouTube are the most popular sites among consumers, followed by sites such as Twitter, Wikipedia, Skype and LinkedIn. The professionals reported a 76% usage rate of Twitter, while only 32% of consumers reported using the service. Half of respondents stated that online reviews influence their purchasing behavior, while 37% of consumers said that they have purchased a product they heard about on social media first. Thirty-two percent of professionals reported having a dedicated social media staff in place, while 30% reported having a social media budget. Visibility and awareness were the primary goals of professional social media activities, but only 31% reported having formal and measurable objectives. "Social media continues to be one of the most quickly evolving areas of the public relations profession, not to mention a hot topic of discussion both online and off," said Laurie Smith, vice-president of culture and communications at CNW. "Two years is a long time in the online world and much has changed. We are very excited to partner again with Leger Marketing to re-examine the results of the 2009 Social Media Reality Check and see what's new."

In related news, Yahoo Canada has released the results of a study into the effectiveness of social media compared to other forms of marketing communication. Forty-three percent of respondents said advertising is how they first learn about a product or brand. In the last three months two-thirds of Canadians sought out additional information after seeing an advertisement. Four out of five consumers reported looking online for more information about a product or brand. For more than half, the Internet is the first place they look. Fifty-nine percent reported visiting brand’s website for information, compared to 14% who visited its Facebook page, and five percent who went to Twitter. Among Canadian shoppers, 39% called television and print advertising informative, while 32% said online display ads provide valuable information and 24% said social network ads as informative. "Today's consumers have instant access to information and are more knowledgeable and empowered than ever before, making it impossible to tell a compelling story with a thumbnail advertisement," said Paula Presley, executive director of sales at Yahoo Canada. "Developing engaging and contextual campaigns across mobile, video, social, and local enables a brand to increase engagement and effectively reach its consumer."

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