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February 13, 2012

The power of social networking goes well beyond following celebrities or exchanging messages with friends. At its core, social networking is about the basic human need for connection, a connection that has evolved from the campfires of hunter-gather communities to the cracker barrel of general stores, the water coolers of office days gone by and now the pages of Facebook. Understanding that basic need helps explain why social networking now accounts for nearly one-quarter of all the time people spend online.

Many of the statistics around social networking are mind-boggling. Nearly 75% of social networkers check in every day by mid-morning at the latest, with 40% doing so before they have gotten dressed or had breakfast. Members of the millennial generation are the most loyal users—more than half check in daily—yet Gen X and Baby Boomers are only slightly behind in activity. Facebook alone is the location for the most daily use of the Internet, leading Google searches or regular e-mail.

The statistics in a typical week are even more astounding, with more than 90% of Internet users checking into social networks every seven days. Not surprisingly, shopping is part of this world. In any given week, more than half of Internet users will research products or retailers, clip coupons or shop on line, a larger percentage than those signing on for game or professional networking.

Nearly 40% of consumers have friended or linked to retailers and brands through Facebook and 25% follow similar companies on Twitter. These friends and followers have come to gain exclusive access to deals and offers, but also find interesting and important content.

More important information on how consumers and businesses connect through social networking can be found in a brand new study conducted by the Integer Group for the Coca‑Cola Retailing Research Council of North America. The second part of this study, now available at www.ccrrc.org (North America page) focuses  on the social needs that have driven so much traffic to this new web activity so quickly.

Michael Sansolo

Research Director

Coca‑Cola Retailing Research Council of North America