Social Networking - Ireland - September 2012
Online social networking has become ever more integrated into the daily lives of Irish consumers, with this trend showing no signs of abating. Irish consumers are now conducting more of their social lives through online social networks.
Smartphones and mobile devices also represent a growth opportunity for online social networking sites, as a significant number of Irish consumers now access these sites on the go, with TGI (2011) data showing some 15% of NI and 13% of RoI consumers having visited social networking sites via a mobile phone.
However, this appears to be a double-edged sword for Irish consumers. While online social networks have expanded consumers’ social circles and provided a source of power in rebalancing the business/customer relationship, such platforms have also seen a rise of cyber bullying and the deterioration of interpersonal relationships, most notably among the youth population or Generation C (Connected). For brands the situation is the same. While online social networks have facilitated unprecedented access to the Irish consumer, brand-jacking and the loss of control over the brand’s message are key issues concerning social media for advertisers.
Some questions answered in this report include:
- What implications will cyber bullying have on Irish social network usage? – Cyber bullying is now becoming all too common in society because of the perceived anonymity of social networks, with schoolchildren, celebrities and athletes appearing to bear the brunt this behaviour. What is being done to combat it?
- What impact will new EU privacy legislation have on the sector? – In January 2012 the EU proposed updating the 1995 Data Protection Directive to account for new technology, including social networking sites. What impact will the ‘right to be forgotten’ have on the social network market in the future?
- What will higher usage of smartphones mean for social networks, and how do consumers access them? – Accessing social networks via a mobile phone not only allows time-pressed Irish consumers the opportunity to connect with their social groups on the go, but also provides advertisers with a new channel through which to reach their desired audience.
- Are online social networking sites an effective advertising platform? – While the benefits of advertising through online social networks are well known, the question of their effectiveness remains, given that such low numbers of people claim to pay attention to advertising on these sites.
- What do Irish consumers use social networks for? – Irish consumers are primarily using social networking sites to connect with and keep up to date with friends and family. However, consumers in both regions state that they do interact with brands through these sites by clicking on adverts and befriending companies’ social networking sites.
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