ASI Study Gauges Usage and Potential of Social Networking

About 50% of Distributors and Suppliers Expect to Spend More Time on Sites

TREVOSE, PA – October 7, 2009  Advertising Specialty Institute®, the largest media and marketing organization serving the advertising specialty industry, today announced the results of an exclusive social networking study gauging the impact, usage and potential of social networking among ASI distributor, supplier and decorator members.
Results show that about half of respondents expressing an opinion (53% of distributors and 48% of suppliers) feel they will be increasing the time they spend with social networking in the next two years.  Nearly 90% of respondents also feel social networking already is or will become a good way to promote their business, but there is no overall consensus about which site is most relevant today. 

The study indicates that LinkedIn, an online site for professionals, is used by about 54% of distributor members and 46% of supplier members who responded to the survey, and that the majority with accounts (93% of the distributors and 85% of the suppliers) use it for business purposes.  About 25% of distributors noted that it is the most relevant social network for the future.

Facebook, a more casual online site, has the greatest penetration in the industry overall, with 59% of distributors and 62% of suppliers indicating they have a Facebook account. Among those who have an account, however, 65% of distributors and 62% of suppliers say it is for personal use.
“The results of our social networking study are fascinating,” said Larry Basinait, executive director of research services at the Advertising Specialty Institute.  “While many distributors and suppliers say in general that social networking sites are important to their business, about 47% of distributors and 43% of suppliers are trying to determine the best way to use them for marketing efforts and promotions.” 

The full results of the exclusive study from ASI are available by clicking here.  A report was also issued to all survey participants.

Additional key findings from the study include:

  • Twitter has room to grow.  Three-quarters (75%) of distributors and many suppliers (70%) have heard of Twitter, the short-message texting service, but do not have an account.  Thirty-five percent of distributors and 44% of suppliers who have Twitter accounts use them for business purposes. 
  • YouTube is personal.  About one-half of distributors and suppliers (49% and 51% respectfully) use YouTube, the public video hosting service, and mostly for personal purposes.  However, suppliers are posting more videos in general, with 28% having submitted videos or slideshows to social networking sites.
  • ASI Social Network is educational.  About 7% of distributors and suppliers indicate they use the ASI Social Network, the industry’s online community of nearly 3,900 members.  Of those who use it, about two-thirds (68%) say that advice and education are the dominant reasons why they participate. 

The ASI Social Networking Study is an additional resource among a comprehensive set of educational and statistical research from ASI, including the annual State of the Industry™ report, the Advertising Specialties Impressions Study, and quarterly industry sales reports.  

The full results of the ASI Social Networking Study are available online by clicking here.  For more information, contact Larry Basinait, executive director of research services, at [email protected].   

About ASI
Advertising Specialty Institute is the largest media and marketing organization serving the advertising specialty industry, with a membership of over 26,000 distributor firms (sellers) and supplier firms (manufacturers) of advertising specialties.  Supplier firms use ASI print and electronic resources to market products to over 22,000 ASI distributor firms.  Distributor firms use ASI print and electronic resources, which contain nearly every product in the industry from more than 3,500 reputable suppliers, to locate supplier firms and to market services to buyers.  ASI provides catalogs, information directories, newsletters, magazines, websites and databases, and offers e-commerce, marketing and selling tools.  Visit ASI online at and on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube, the CEO’s blog and the ASI Social Network.

Methodology:  On June 1, 2009, an ASI survey was commissioned to gauge the impact and usage of social networking in the promotional products industry.  Invitations went to ASI distributor, supplier and decorator members who were the primary contact at their company.  ASI members are typically small businesses of less than 10 employees, that in addition to selling promotional products, may also include sign shops, printers, trophy stores and advertising agencies.  How they use social networking is a reasonable barometer as to how small businesses in the United States and Canada use social networking.  A total of 1,364 firms responded to the survey, out of 23,936 invited.