Consumers to brands: Be informative and funny on social to woo us – oh, and respond to our every whim

James is editor in chief of TechForge Media, with a passion for how technologies influence business and several Mobile World Congress events under his belt. James has interviewed a variety of leading figures in his career, from former Mafia boss Michael Franzese, to Steve Wozniak, and Jean Michel Jarre. James can be found tweeting at @James_T_Bourne.

For brands to build a winning social media strategy, it needs to be a two-way street between them and the consumer. Yet the consumer holds all the cards: a new report from agency Boston Digital has observed that brands not only need long-term reliability to woo the users, but also be entertaining with it.

The study, titled ‘How Brands’ Social Media Impacts Consumers’, surveyed 554 respondents across a variety of age groups, genders and geographies.

Two thirds (65%) of consumers say they are more likely to purchase from a company they’ve followed for a month, while more than half (54%) are ‘very’ or ‘extremely’ likely to look at a company’s social presence while researching a product. Yet more than half (51%) admitted they would hit the exit button if a brand’s content was not relevant to them personally, with a third (34%) doing the same if the content was boring.

When it came to the reasons users would connect with brands, the archetypal timeline of endless moans ended up being something of a misnomer. 59% of those polled said they used social to reach out when they have questions about a product or service. In comparison, 52% said they predominantly complained. Yet 41%, a ‘surprisingly high’ number according to Boston Digital, contact brands on social media to praise them to the heavens.

This user-generated content gold may need to be mined further; yet the report emphasised the importance of going back to all respondents, be they effusive, egregious, or plain old erratic. 61% of those polled said it was ‘very’ or ‘extremely’ important to get a response from a brand after providing feedback on social media.

Brand strategy has been a part of social ever since the platforms were developed. As far back as 2013, Twitter was discussing a three-pronged attack for brands. You could be fun, informative, or helpful – but only pick two. Last year, at the same Digital Marketing World Forum (DMWF) event, the best practices which had been evinced were around two principles: knowing what you were good at, and betting on that once you had found the sweet spot.

Yet you cannot be waiting for inspiration to strike. “Many brands that use social media treat it like a corporate billboard instead of the informed, two-way street it needs to be,” said Peter Prodromou, president of Boston Digital. “As the survey implies, in order for social media to dramatically impact consumer loyalty and purchasing, companies must connect with target consumers on a personal level, understand what drives their behaviour, and be strategic about how they interact.

“They must deliver a great, high-value customer experience – otherwise, consumers will unfollow and brands will leave money on the table,” added Prodromou.

You can read the full report here (pdf, no opt-in).

Interested in hearing leading global brands discuss subjects like this in person?

Find out more about Digital Marketing World Forum (#DMWF) Europe, London, North America, and Singapore.  

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