Social networks a lousy deal for advertisers?

It looks like social networks have a ways to go before they can be considered the next great advertising platform. At least that’s what a study just released by [Knowledge Networks ](

The good new for the Facebook, MySpace and Twitter’s of the world: 83 percent of the U.S. Internet population (ages 13 to 54) participates in social media – 47% on a weekly basis.

The bad news: less than five percent of social media users regularly turn to these sites for guidance on purchase decisions in any of nine product/service categories Knowledge Networks asked about. In addition, only 16 percent of social media users say they are more likely to buy from companies that advertise on social sites.

The categories in the survey include such consumer staples as banks and financial services, clothes, eating out (restaurants), cell/mobile phones and service, personal care products and cars or trucks.

As it turns out, what users like most about social media sites is using them to stay connected. Duh!

Fifty-four percent of those surveyed said “Staying connected” – to friends and family, as well as meeting new people was what they “most liked” about participating in social media. And while 63 percent of users agreed having ads was a “fair price to pay” for use of these sites, only 16 percent said they are more likely to buy from advertising brands that support them.

**Twitter has some growing to do**

The study also seemed to confirm that while fast-growing Twitter regularly grabs headlines, its use is not as wide as its high profile coverage would imply. Only about one percent of the total U.S. online population, and the same proportion of social media participants, use Twitter once a week or more often, according to the How People Use Social Media report.

The research was conducted from March 10 through 16, 2009, among 502 members of KnowledgePanel, which Knowledge Networks claims is the only online panel based on a representative sample of the full U.S. population.

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