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July 6 , 2010

Country described as social media savvy but cautious

See how Canadians are experiencing the internet

Consumers across the globe are embracing the Internet as a primary source of information, but Canadians are unique in their use of digital and social media. The 2010 Digital Influence Index, released in Canada last week by Fleishman-Hillard in conjunction with Harris Interactive, reveals that Canadians have high online engagement but a lower level of trust in the Internet.

The study also measures several key aspects of consumers’ use of the Internet, from media consumption patterns, to the degree of adoption of various digital behaviours, to involvement in social networking. Now in its second year, the Index has expanded to include 48 per cent of the global online population, spanning the United States, France, Germany, the United Kingdom, China, Japan and Canada.

“Canadian consumers are comfortable yet cautious when it comes to using the Internet,” said David Bradfield, senior partner and global chair of Fleishman-Hillard’s digital practice. “We lead the world in social networking and call the Internet our most influential source of information. There’s a gap though. While consumers migrate online, marketers aren’t making the move to digital fast enough. They need to realign their marketing and communication programs or risk irrelevance in the consumers’ mind.”

The Digital Influence Index reveals the following key insights that set Canadian consumers apart from the rest of the world:

  • Internet Most Influential Medium: The Internet is the most important and influential form of media consumed by Canadians. Compared to the 27 per cent of Canadian consumers who say that TV is important to their lives, 54 per cent say that the Internet is most important.
  • Canadians are Sociable: Sixty-nine per cent of Canadian consumers have a Facebook account, compared with the 47 per cent average across the seven countries. Though Canadians embrace social media, they are cautious about its use and how much they reveal about themselves.  
  • Canadians Seek Accuracy: In Canada, consumers are more likely to identify and follow a couple of trustworthy sources for the most accurate information on the Internet.
  • Cautiously Trusting: Canadians are most likely to seek advice from others when making a decision and value conversations with friends, families and co-workers when it comes to decision-making.
  • Twitter Know-how: Consumers in Canada are the most knowledgeable of microblogs but have low levels of trust in companies that microblog.
  • Pay to Play Doesn’t Pay-off: Consumers call into question the truthfulness of an article written by a blogger if the blogger was given a free sample or was paid by a company.
  • Adopting Mobile Behaviours: Canada has a relatively low level of adopting many mobile digital behaviours compared with other mature markets ( U.S., U.K, France, Germany and Japan).
  • Where to From Here: Although the Internet is already considered an influential medium, only 24 per cent of Canadians believe that it will have a greater influence on their decisions in the next two years.
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