Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Consumers Using Social Media for Buying Choices

Posted by Amanda Walsh

The growing value of consumer blogging is reiterated in this interesting article from Frank Washkuch found on PRWeek.com recently. Research has shown that consumers have been using information from blogs and social networking sites to influence buying decisions. Internet product research has gone up while the clout of TV news broadcasts has gone down.

The study done by Ketchum, a large, international public relations agency, and the University of Southern California´s Annenberg Strategic PR Center revealed some interesting shifts in where consumers are seeking their information. Of those consumers who visit online shopping sites, 44% read consumer reviews and rely on feedback from their peers.

Out of the participants in the study, 24% said they read blogs and 26% use social networking Web sites. Search engine usage has remained the same, with about 59% of consumers using them to look for information. As a result, many PR professionals are utilizing search engine optimization (SEO)and making the most of Google.

These changes have also forced a difference in the way PR professionals are reaching their own audiences. Blogger relations and social-networking consulting have been added to traditional public relations job descriptions. PR professionals must broaden their scope of outreach beyond reporters and editors.

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