Cone LLC Releases the 2010 Consumer New Media Study


Andrea List


With Millions of Brands to Choose, New Media Users Follow Only Five

New media adoption explodes, but competition to earn followers gets tougher as consumer expectations are on the rise


BOSTON (November 2, 2010) – Even as new media adoption explodes – up 48 percent from 2009 – loyal followers can be hard to come by for companies trying to reach consumers online. With the world’s most loved brands a click of the mouse away, new media users still choose to demonstrate affinity (e.g., “like” on Facebook, “follow” on Twitter or subscribe to an RSS feed) for an average of only 4.6 companies online, making this club one of the most exclusive to which a company can hope to gain access. These are among the findings of Cone’s latest research, the 2010 Cone Consumer New Media Study.


Consumers are more open than ever to engaging with companies via new media (86 percent vs. 78 percent in 2009), but it still takes a big effort on the part of the company to reach the upper echelons of the consideration set. To stand out, companies need to incentivize new followers. Before deciding whether to engage with companies online, 77 percent of new media users look for free products, coupons or discounts. And they expect to find them in the following places:

  • Social networks – 48%
  • Mobile devices – 20%
  • Message boards – 20%
  • Blogs – 13%
  • Online games – 12%

“Marketers are being more aggressive than ever with attractive promotions designed to generate likes, followers and subscribers,” says Cone’s director of new media, Mike Hollywood. “But attracting new media followers is like starting a fire – coupons are your gasoline, and engaging content are the logs that keep the fire burning. Consumers’ affinity can only tolerate five brands, so companies need to think beyond the coupon or clever widget to figure out how to develop long-term relationships with real staying power. The best new media strategies are those that balance relevant content with timely promotions and ongoing company-consumer dialogue.”


It may be difficult for companies to get to the top, but it’s even harder to stay there. Nearly two-thirds (59%) of new media users say they are satisfied with their online experiences with companies, but that doesn’t mean they won’t hesitate to punish companies by disengaging. More than half of users will stop following a company if it acts irresponsibly toward its consumers (58%), over-communicates with them (58%) or provides irrelevant content (53%). Under-communicating (36%) or censoring user-generated content (28%) is also grounds for falling out of favor.


Companies that can deliver high-quality customer experiences are richly rewarded. Users who engage with companies via new media are more likely to:

  • Share information about the company across their own social networks – 62%
  • Feel a stronger connection to the company – 61%
  • Feel better served by the company – 60%
  • Purchase the company’s products or services – 59%

As new media usage grows, so too do the myriad touch points. No longer satisfied to sit still, users are increasingly taking their online experiences on the go, as nearly one-in-five (18%, up from 13% in 2009) look to interact with companies via their mobile devices. Other touch points include social networks (38%), message boards (16%), online games (15%), blogs (13%), photo-, audio- or video-sharing sites (11%) and microblogs (3%).



About the Research
The 2010 Cone Consumer New Media Study presents the findings of an online survey conducted September 9-10, 2010 by ORC among a demographically representative U.S. sample of 1,050 adults comprising 505 men and 545 women 18 years of age and older. The margin of error associated with a sample of this size is ± 3%.

About Cone
Cone LLC ( is a strategy and communications agency engaged in building brand trust. Cone creates stakeholder loyalty and long-term relationships through the development and execution of Cause Branding, Brand Marketing, Corporate Responsibility, Nonprofit Marketing and Crisis Prevention and Management initiatives. Cone is a part of the Omnicom Group (NYSE: OMC) (