September 9, 2010, 4:09 PM

Consumers chat about vehicles and vacations online

Social networks are hubs for car, travel and entertainment talk, study finds.

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A new study finds 61% of online consumers discuss automotive issues on social networks , 60% talk about travel and 57% chat over entertainment.

The report, from ROI Research Inc. and sponsored by marketing agency Performics, a division of Publicis Groupe, examined behaviors of 3,000 consumers who use social networks across 11 industries: apparel, appliances, automotive, consumer packaged goods, electronics, entertainment, financial services, health care and pharmaceuticals, home furnishings, telecommunications and travel.

When it comes to social networkers seeking or sharing recommendations on local retailers, home furnishing led all categories, including automotive, Performics says.

The study also found:

● 56% of respondents are fans of appliance brands and/or retailers on Facebook

● 49% discuss apparel on social networking sites to compare prices;

● 49% follow automotive brands and/or retailers on Twitter

● 23% follow at least one travel company on either Facebook or Twitter;

● 59% are at least somewhat interested in receiving new product announcements from financial services companies or brands on social networking sites.

“Social networkers behave differently when interacting with their favorite jeans brand versus the manufacturer of that new hybrid car they’ve got their eye on,” says Daina Middleton, CEO of Performics. “Marketers can benefit by recognizing social networkers’ desire to participate with brands and keeping these behaviors in mind when setting strategies. Vertical-specific insights can help advertisers understand how their category fares in this new channel and the best ways to connect with their niche.”

When it comes to specific data for Facebook, 25% of users visit a company or brand’s page on Facebook once a week or more, 22% share an opinion about a company, 22% click on an ad, 20% make a recommendation and 17% ask for a product or service. Additionally, 41% say the social network is a good way to get information about companies and products, 32% are more likely to follow or become a fan of a company or brand if their friends are fans or followers, 31% are interested in having more companies and products available to communicate and interact with through Facebook, 30% say connecting with companies and products on Facebook makes them feel like a valued customer and 29% enjoy interacting with companies and products through Facebook.

When it comes to Twitter, 53% of users say they are likely to recommend a company or product they follow on Twitter, 52% would talk about the followed company or product, 48% would purchase the brand or company's product(s), 46% would link to an advertisement for the company or product from the network and 43% would attend a promotion or sponsored event advertised.

Twitter members also use the network to share and seek advice on brands and companies with their followers. 32% would make a recommendation about a product or service, 33% would share an opinion and 30% would ask for a recommendation.

Respondents are more inclined to use social networks to get information about certain topics than others. For example, 49% use social networking sites to get advice on electronics purchases, the highest category for seeking advice. Respondents were least likely to seek advice on travel, with 22% reporting they use social networks for that purpose.

When it comes to giving advice, 38% give advice about financial services and the same amount said they give advice on home furnishings companies and products.

Additionally, 33% of respondents use social networking sites to provide feedback to appliance brands and retailers. And users are most likely to make an automotive purchase (26%) as a result of a recommendation on a social networking site than for any other category examined.

Not surprisingly, Facebook is the social network king when it comes to users. 80% of respondents had a Facebook account as of April, when the research was conducted, 37% were MySpace members and 19% had a Twitter account. 80% of Facebook users visit the site at least weekly. That figure was 71% for Twitter and 69% for MySpace.

Mobile social network access is on the rise, the study also finds. 32% of Facebook users access Facebook from a mobile device versus 30% for Twitter users.  

 The study used a 30-minute online survey to collect information from 3,000 U.S. respondents who access at least one social network regularly.

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