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With the popularity of social media skyrocketing as a means of marketing for businesses of all budgets, it seems clear that social media has claimed it’s spot as one of the most powerful influences on consumer brand perception.  While traditional advertizing has the power to reach out to individuals in order to encourage them to become customers, social media has the power to build communities.  Social media also has the power to build empires.

The Syncapse Study- Background

But the folks at Syncapse decided to take things just one step further by measuring the social media habits of 4,300 panelists in the United States and Canada.  The panelists were requested to categorize themselves as one of five types of internet user.  The following were the 5 types of user categories:

  1. Producers (13.7%)-  not only use social media, but they also produce content regularly through social media, blogs, and discussion forums.
  2. Engagers (24.9%)- Engaged in discussions about brands, active in the online discussions, but not producers of much content.
  3. Participant (28%)- Maintains an online presence through social media sites without influencing others much
  4. Lurkers (19.7%)- Reads what other people write, looks at what others post, but doesn’t do much posting themselves
  5. Abstainers (13.2%)- Maintains no, or almost no, social media presence

Assuming that the data collected through these 4,300 panelists accurately represents the general population, the results of the study are intriguing.

Earned Media Value (EMV)

It turns out that the people who are to most active in social media are not only the most influenced by it, but they are also the most influential too.  I can’t imagine how they went about doing this, but the folks at Syncapse measured the Earned Media Value (EMV) of each category of consumer.  The Earned Media Value (EMV) is the value of one persons recommendation on their social media accounts.  Here are the data in a nutshell:

  1. Producer EMV-   $22.93
  2. Engager EMV-       $4.48
  3. Participant EMV-  $1.94
  4. Lurker EMV-          $1.07
  5. Abstainer EMV-          $0

As you can see the differences are drastic.  Producers recommendations are ridiculously more valuable than those of anyone else’s.  Additionally, the Engagers recommendations are also significantly more valuable than those of less active individuals.

So What?

What does this all mean to businesses constructing marketing strategies?  It means a lot.  The Syncapse study recommends two courses of action for businesses using social media.

  1. Aim to engage the most influential individuals, particularly the producers.  Since the producers recommendations carry much more weight, having them engaged in your social media campaign is an enormous asset.
  2. Make the less engaged people more engaged.  In other words, make the Lurkers and Abstainers into producers and engagers.

In Conclusion

In my opinion Syncapse’s first recommendation, to engage the more influential individuals, is a solid one.  By targeting the most influential individuals businesses will stand to gain the most.  And not only are those individuals more valuable assets to in social marketing, it should also be easier to engage them, being as they are the most active in social media already.

In my opinion, Syncapse’s second recommendation leaves the reader hanging a little too much. Although theoretically it would be a good to make all of the individuals engaged in your social media campaign more influential, so that they can help your cause even more, they don’t explain how that should be done.  It seems that what they are alluding to are incentive based campaigns where people are encouraged to share with their friends in order to receive some type of reward.

A final thought

As a final thought, I think that it would have been extremely valuable had the study included some data on the ages of the individuals who were studied.  It could be that the results were highly age specific.  For instance, if most of the people who are less engaged are also older, it could be that it is simply more difficult to engage older people with social media.  I do suspect that that is the case, and if it is, the second recommendation (above) would not seem to be a very effective one.

Susie Brown is a FastUpFront Blog contributor and business author. Fastupfront offers a business loan financing alternative based on business cash flow.