As part of its wide-ranging study, "Competitive Strategy In the Age of the Customer," Forrester said that marketers should reallocate budgets from brand advertising to "useful content and interactive advertising."
In particular, Forrester said that budgeting more for goal-driven social and mobile apps, as well as site content, and less for "one-way advertising," would serve the purpose of creating content that drives inbound traffic. It suggested building mobile apps that engage customers, rather than building "knee-jerk" social apps and sending "advertising blasts."
Forrester based its results on interviews with 15 vendor and user companies and thought leaders, including Bain, Bank of America, Comcast, imc2 and MTV Networks.
Separately, agency holding company Starcom MediaVest Group and privately held ShareThis enlisted Rubinson Partners -- run by former Ad Research Foundation chief research officer Joel Rubinson -- to conduct what they termed the most comprehensive study yet on social sharing.
Analyzing more than 7 billion sharing signals during March -- and zeroing in on 300 million monthly users across ShareThis' top 1,000 publisher sites -- Starcom and ShareThis conclude that "marketers should consider sharing to be a sign of 'in-marketness' and a prime audience for advertising. People are most likely to be sharing and clicking while brand consideration is still forming, so sharing offers the relevance of search and remarketing, but at scale.
Specific findings included:
•10% of Web site visits come from sharing -- half as much as from search. Sharing also accounts for 31% of referral traffic.
• Facebook is the largest sharing channel, accounting for 38% of all shares. Twitter and email are next, tied at 17%.
• Shared links are clicked on 4.9 times each, on average, across all sharing channels, so content shared by large groups of people reach a wider audience than content passed along from others.
• Instead of one person being universally influential on a wide range of topics, many people are influential on only one or two topics.
Starcom MediaVest and ShareThis said the study, titled "Sharing, More Than Just Friends, Fans and Followers," was the first in a series. It is part of a new ongoing partnership.