SOCIETY | Jan 10, 2020

Social Networks, useful but “thirsty” for data

The Retail Transformation 2.0 research shows how users are sure they know Social Networks, although they continue to be concerned about security and privacy.

According to the Retail Transformation 2.0 research carried out by the Digital Transformation Institute and CFMTSocial Networks are the best known digital technology: 95% of users declares they know what they are, a 3% growth compared with last year’s survey. 69% of interviewees states, with great certainty, that they have a thorough knowledge of it: i.e., of the 95% which knows the technology, only 26% admits that having a social account does not automatically make them knowledgeable of its mechanisms, stating that they “know in general what it’s about”. All this in a context in which this digital technology turns out to be, as in 2018, among the best known together with Artificial IntelligenceAugmented Reality and Virtual Reality, but with a 33% difference in relation to the one in second place.

We are therefore dealing with users capable of a critical use of the tool or with users who have, as Stefano Epifani, president of the Digital Transformation Institute, defines it, “a distorted perception of awareness, which we could define as naive knowledge” and which therefore represents a potential problem for the conscious use of these tools.

Social Network and privacy, a complicated relationship

71% of respondents (3% more than 2018) believes social networks can jeopardize privacy and security. Men (83%) with medium-high education and skills are more convinced of this. Furthermore, with respect to the issue of reliability, 78% of users believes that false reviews do not allow obtaining a precise picture of a seller or a product and 73% that the reviews written by bloggers are not reliable because they are maneuvered by the companies. 72% of consumers says they are “annoyed by the excessive activity of sellers on social networks” and 67% considers them misleading due to the excess of information.

There is concern about privacy and doubts concerning the actual knowledge of how these tools work, but when users are asked to explain the meaning of Social Network, the most quoted words, after Facebook, are positive words such as platform, interaction, communication, sharing and exchange.

Are social networks useful for something or someone?

The usefulness of Social Networks is recognized and users admit that, thanks to social channels, they can acquire information concerning a product or service in a much simpler way than in the past (86% of interviewees) and obtain a precise idea of what they want to buy, as the quality can be better assessed (70%). 78% admits that a seller who accurately manages its own social media profiles shows attention to its customers and this increases its reliability.

74% of Italians believes that the integration of online and offline sales channels produces benefits for the customer and that there is an optimization of sales for those who use various sales channels (64%); both data are growing compared with the 2018 survey. However, there seems to be no integration between the presence on Social Networks and normal customer support activities in the physical store for 66% of the interviewees, while 63% believes that this presence is not integrated with the normal online customer support functions.

According to users, Social Networks can act as a compass amongst the great deal of information on the Net, even if there is a widespread perception that this cannot always reassure as regards the quality of a product and that it is necessary to be very careful of reviews and advice steered by companies.

Social networks maintain a privileged role among users and take on an increasingly significant weight, of which there is an increasing awareness. For this reason and to imagine “a society that promotes lasting economic growth– explains Stefano Epifani – it is necessary to work in order that a widespread knowledge and how to build this up in a context where Social Media plays an increasingly important role should be achieved”.