Wireless Shoppers and Social Networking

Those of us that spend hours, minutes, or even seconds a day online are almost certainly familiar with at least one social networking site and the volume of word-of-mouth marketing that occurs on them.  Social Networking sites are bucking the label of "just a fad" by continuing to grow at high rates.  According to Compete.com, Facebook is the #3 site on the web (behind Google.com and Yahoo.com), with 202% growth Y-O-Y and Twitter is the #39 site on the web, with 660% growth Y-O-Y.

Clearly, online users are visiting these social networking sites, so it should come as no surprise that online wireless consumers (online users visiting wireless carrier sites) are no exception.  Using Compete’s clickstream data, we can see that wireless consumers are visiting social networking sites in increasing numbers.

*Carrier sites include wireless.att.com, Sprint.com, T-Mobile.com, and Verizonwireless.com

Clearly, there is an opportunity for carriers to find their shoppers and customers on these social networking sites, but what can the Carriers do to capitalize on this opportunity?  In October, Compete surveyed over 3,600 wireless customers about what they’d like to see from their carrier on social networking sites.

  • 22% of wireless customers with a social networking account are interested in participating in a sweepstakes or contest in which they can be entered to win a free smartphone
  • 20% of wireless customers with a social networking account are interested in seeing special bundle deals offered only through the social networking platform
  • 19% of wireless customers with a social networking account are interested in a chance to win or sign up for a special promotions from their wireless carrier (like tickets or special events) through a social networking site

It appears that there is, in fact, plenty of opportunity to reach these social networking wireless consumers.  With the average Facebook user having 130 friends and the average Twitter user having 126 followers carriers would not just be reaching the social networking wireless customers but reaching their entire network.  If the carriers can engage their customers on the social networking sites, the awareness of the brand could potentially spread exponentially.

Given the potential to drive deeper engagement with consumers, one wonders what is taking wireless carriers so long to truly embrace the social networking sites(beyond merely setting up fan pages on Facebook and including links on the carrier websites)?  According to Compete’s October survey, 91% of wireless customers with Facebook or Twitter have not interacted with one of the major carriers on those major sites, so this market is largely untapped.

Who will be the first carrier to do something as simple as using a free smartphone giveaway promotion to engage shoppers and customers and jump out in front as the favorite (or at least most well known) carrier on the social networking sites?  I don’t know the answer to that, but I do know I’d become a follower or fan of a carrier if it meant I’d be entered to win the newest and latest phone for free.

About BeckyBitzenhofer:
Becky Bitzenhofer is a Senior Associate at Compete. Becky spends her time at Compete managing a data team and delivering competitive analysis to wireless clients. Before Becky joined the Compete team she was a student at the University of Vermont. Becky hopes to continue to use and improve her analysis skills, and develop new and better ways use data to improve website performance. You can find and follow Becky on Twitter under the name Beckybitz.