They are increasingly important for corporate reputation and for the commercial success of companies, and are constantly evolving: businesses are increasingly investing in social networks, for many reasons.
Web users spend an increasing amount of time on social networks: 25 percent of this time is spent is spent on the internet in the USA – 21 percent in Italy – with 33 percent peaks among young people. Social networks and blogs reach more than 75 percent of internet active users.
Therefore, the relationship between commercial brands and social networks is extremely healthy, with significant growth perspectives. 60 percent of users who buy products through at least three web research tools receive information on a specific brand from social networks, and 48 percent of these consumers reply to offers posted on Facebook or Twitter. Also, 37 percent of users log into social networks from mobile devices. A resource with an extremely high potential for the achievement of sales objectives of companies that use social networks.
According to British-based Inverness Courier, Facebook and other social networks could soon create payment systems that will compete with PayPal, reaching a target of customers who don’t want to be redirected to other websites to pay for goods and services, thus increasing online sales on that same website.
Nonetheless, the relationship between brands and social networks appears as essential not only to increase sales, but also to establish a competitive advantage that is intangible but nevertheless extremely significant: Corporate Reputation. Indeed, users join a group or a community not just looking for immediate benefits, but also to find first-hand information on brands, posting favourable or unfavourable comments or simply reading comments posted by other users (this applies to 74 percent of Italian users). According to Carolina Gerenzani, Head of Technology at TNS Italia research institute “all this implies that companies must be vigilant when following and listening to what social media have to say and assess whether such comments can somehow affect the (Digital) Corporate Reputation”.
At present, more than 50 percent of companies limit the use of social networks within their premises. According to the Inverness Courier, in the next future corporate brands will be promoted also through employees, and networks of co-workers will be created to interact with other web users.