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June 30, 2009

56% of Canadians now have social network profiles
Ipsos study reveals 17% increase in 18 months

“Social Networking: 2009”, a new study from Ipsos Reid shows a dramatic increase in the number of online Canadians who have a profile on an online social network. In 18 months the percentage with a profile has increased from 39 to 56 per cent.

“Social networks get a lot of press and rightfully so, they are becoming the communications tool of the 21st century. The increasing concentrations of people at these types of websites make them very attractive to online marketers and businesses,’ says study author Mark Laver.

The study found that Facebook continues to be the dominant social networking site and it has only increased its advantage in the last 18 months. Today, over three-quarters (85 per cent) of online Canadians with a social network profile have one at Facebook.

Women are slightly more likely to have a social network profile (59 per cent compared to 52 per cent for men). Additionally, as age increases, the likelihood of having a social network profile decreases. Most online Canadians who are aware of social networks aged 18-34 (86 per cent) have a social network profile, compared to 60 per cent of those aged 35-54 and 44 per cent of those aged 55 or older.

“Clearly, the social networking phenomenon is a big hit with the younger generation. What is surprising is the degree to which older members of the population are also exploring online social networks,” says Laver. “From a marketing perspective, Facebook’s back-end systems allow for the targeting of some very specific niche groups. In fact, Ipsos Reid has even used it for hard to fill quota groups for online surveys.”

Among those aware of online social networks, some users are visiting the sites very frequently. In fact, almost one-third (32 per cent) of those aware of Facebook had visited the site in the last 48 hours and almost one-half (44 per cent) had visited in the past week. Online Canadians are now spending more than one-third of their Internet time each week participating in, and browsing, online social networks.

Laver concluded “many companies employ a very simple media strategy, that is, follow the consumer. As the consumer continues to spend increasing amounts of time in the digital world businesses and marketers are paying increasing attention to the Internet. However, online social networks tend to be extremely personal and this thus creates a dilemma for marketers and businesses – how to communicate in a personalized setting without upsetting the target audience.”

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