As part of the “How Consumers Found Websites in 2012” report, Forrester found that last year, half of all Internet users ages 18 to 23 use social networks as their primary Internet discovery resource, as do 43% of Internet users ages 24 to 32. And even more interesting? Social networks, including Facebook and Twitter, are the preferred means of online discovery for nearly one-third of all Americans, compared to 18% in 2010.
Forrester also found that 54% of American Internet users rely on traditional search results to discover information. And although that’s a big number, it represents a 7-point drop in overall search engine popularity compared to the same statistics compiled in 2010.
The findings don’t necessarily mean you should abandon the SEO ship. After all, basic SEO principles are a must-have for any website and/or blog, regardless of your target audience and industry. If, however, you’re spending the majority of your marketing budget on SEO and paid search and not making any sort of investment in social, you might want to rethink that strategy. After all, the behaviors of younger Internet users are great predictors as to what the future holds, and if Forrester’s findings are any indication, Internet users will increasingly turn to social networks as opposed to search engines to find the websites, resources and companies they need.
We’re interested to see if a pattern continues to emerge as a result of this year’s findings—and we’ll be sure to keep you posted. In the meantime, what are your thoughts on Forrester’s research? Does your data indicate that more people are discovering your website or blog through social channels? And if not, does research like this make you rethink your social media marketing strategy?