MADRID: Four in ten Spanish social media users claim to follow a brand via this channel and more expect to do so in the coming year, but not always for the reasons one might expect according to new research.

An annual study of social networks, undertaken by IAB Spain in association with Elogia Group and based on a survey of 1,064 users, found that 41% of users followed a brand at the end of 2013 and 45% indicated they would do so in the next year.

The most popular reason for following brands was to see job posts – 78% were very interested or quite interested – while scholarships (72%) were also sought and the ability to take social responsibility actions was mentioned by 67%.

More traditional reasons included discounts (77%), product information (72%), customer service (70%), competitions (69%) and the ability to buy (63%).

Most of those following brands were doing so through Facebook (93%), with Twitter (20%), YouTube (9%) and Google+ (7%) trailing some way behind.

And despite the social nature of these platforms few were very interested in contacting other brand fans (19%).

More generally, the penetration of social networks had stabilised at 79% of internet users. And while most (77%) accessed sites daily, relatively few were active contributors – just 36% added content frequently, down from 43% in 2012 – with two thirds preferring to catch up on the activity of their contacts and half dedicating their time to watching videos or listening to music.

The greatest amount of time was spent on Facebook (4.84 hours a week). YouTube accounted for 3.62 hours a week, followed by Twitter on 3.42 hours, but of the three, only YouTube had seen an increase over the previous year.

This decline may be partly due to that fact that the average user is now on more networks, up from 2.6 in in 2012 to 3.6 in 2013.

Ramiro Sueiro, executive creative director at Gestazión, a sponsor of the study, observed that social networks "are confirmed as an undisputed feature in our mix of digital media" and added that a thorough understanding was needed to ensure the best decisions in communication and digital marketing.

Data sourced from IAB Spain; additional content by Warc staff