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Retailers, manufacturers should leverage value of social media

WHAT IT MEANS AND WHY IT'S IMPORTANT — Such blog posts as the one from extreme couponer and Walgreens fan Christie Hardcastle announcing the shipment of a Walgreens Infant Care Booklet mailer to American Baby magazine subscribers are important as research shows that social media increasingly is becoming an effective way to communicate with consumers.

(THE NEWS: Blogger announces release of Walgreens Infant Care Booklet. For the full story, click here.)

"This Home Mailer also came with coupons for Nursery Water, Earth's Best Baby food and more! So be on the lookout," Hardcastle wrote on her Wild for Wags site. Hardcastle also mentioned that mailers, such as the Walgreens Infant Care Booklet from American Baby magazine, are "just another reason to take advantage of free magazine offers."

The reason this is important is because recent research conducted in May by VeraQuest on behalf of marketing/public relations firm Robin Leedy & Associates found that friends are just as effective as TV in terms of their ability to influence an over-the-counter or a health-and-beauty product purchase.

Factoring in such social networking sites as Facebook, as well as blog reviews and the impact of social media, makes it even more significant. The survey of more than 1,500 U.S. adults found that blog reviews ranked as sources of greater influence among younger women (14% of women ages 30 to 39 years versus 6% overall).

Underscoring this notion is a "Women on the Web" report released by comScore, a provider of digital marketing intelligence. According to the June 2010 report, more women than men are social networking when online (16.3% of women versus 11.7% of men), and more women than men are spending their time online on blogs (0.9% of women versus 0.8% of men).

"Women across the world are driving some of the most mainstream aspects of the Internet experience today — the social Web, e-commerce, flash shopping and consumption of user-generated content via YouTube. They have spawned a whole new genre of Internet games and have driven much of the blogging and photo-sharing activity. Once women connect, they engage; once they engage, they embrace; once they embrace, they drive. And that¹s the future," the comScore report stated.

Clearly, social media is tipping the scale, and retailers and manufacturers would be wise to take note of this fact.

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