What can UK businesses learn from US data about their customers?

Can US data tell us where UK customers will be online in 2011?

Earlier this month, the Pew Internet Project, which is an initiative of the Pew Research Center in the USA, released a new report called: Generations Online in 2010.

The report aims to survey and collect data about what people are doing online across different generations in the USA. Below is a graphic that describes the main online activities across generations (if you click on the image then it’ll expand the image).

Pew Internet Research 2010

One of the key findings was that the use of social networking sites was one of the fastest growing areas of online activity for the older, professional generations.

I think this is really interesting data and was wondering if we could use it to inform how UK business markets and engages its customers online over the coming year.

My main concern, however, was whether this data was applicable to the UK as it was US only data.

Thinking about it a bit more, I think the data might be really useful and could act as a kind of marketing crystal ball for UK business.

Why?

Well, first of all, I believe that the USA is about 12-18 months in front of the UK and Europe in terms of technology adoption, internet use and online behaviour.

Take LinkedIn as a B2B social networking example. LinkedIn reports that it now has around 80 million users, of which around half are in the US and the UK has recently reached 4 million users. In terms of penetration, that would equate to roughly 16% of the US adult population and around 8% of the UK adult population.

This data suggests that the UK is firmly in catch up mode when it comes to LinkedIn and that if we follow a similar path to the USA that it will become an increasingly important way of marketing to, connecting with and engaging B2B customers in the coming year.

Are you on it? Should you be integrating it into your marketing and networking plans for 2011?

Where do you think the biggest opportunities will be for UK business to engage their customers online over the course of 2011?

Thanks to Elias Pirasteh for the image.

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