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In Social Media, Engagement Has Its Rewards

One of the most sought after answers in Social Media is whether or not engagement in social networks such as Twitter or Facebook directly correlates to customer acquisition, retention, and advocacy. Before we can earn customers however, we have to recognize that at any given time, there are also prospects. And, prospects require information and confidence in order to make decisions, in your favor of course. The answer to our question lies in social engagement.

Prospects are not only searching for guidance, comparisons, and experiences through Google, they are also becoming increasingly social in every step of a decision making process. If brands do not identify the various stages of choice and resolution and also the networks where they socialize and explore, opportunities will be missed.

If we’re not part of the decision making cycle, we are absent from decisions.

From Fans and Followers to Customers

In order to connect with prospects online, we must do so where they’re already active. New research reveals that doing so may have a strong effect on the decisions and activity of your customers. In February 2010, market research firm Chadwick Martin Bailey along with iModerate Research Technologies, surveyed over 1,500 individuals online as well as conducted one-on-one discussions to contextualize social media behavior.

The study found that an astounding 60% of individuals who “like” pages dedicated to brands on Facebook are more likely to recommend the brand than those unaware of the company’s presence within the network. Perhaps even more incredible, is that 79% of consumers who follow the brand on Twitter have stated that they too, would refer peers to those companies they follow.

Since actions speak louder than words, the study sought to answer the question of whether or not engagement actually leads to purchases. The answer is yes. An impressive 51% of Facebook fans and 67% of Twitter followers indicated that they are more likely to buy since connecting online. With 450 million users on Facebook and over 100 million registered users on Twitter, the potential is not only great, it’s exponential.

Social Media is a Tool for Customers and Prospects

What compels someone to fan a page on Facebook or follow a company on Twitter? The survey specifically asked the question of its panelists in relation to Facebook and Twitter and their answers may be surprising to many.

Facebook

On Facebook, existing customers topped the list with 49%. Following with 42%, consumers felt compelled to show support for the brand. In third with 40%, individuals admitted that they hoped to receive discounts and promotions.

Other stats worth mentioning, 27% and 26% of respondents stated that they would like to be among the first to know information about the brand and also to gain access to exclusive content respectively. And, 17% claimed that they were referred to the page by someone that they knew, which already demonstrates word of mouth at work.

Twitter

Twitter paints a different picture, but more so than in Facebook, consumers want access.

51% of consumers polled are already customers of the company. 44% stated that receiving discounts and promotions was the primary reason for following. 42% did so for entertainment purposes.

Gaining access to exclusive content and learning about information first with 37% and 36% respectively is also worth noting.

Whereas 17% were referred to Facebook pages, only 12% followed brands on a recommendation. However, as the number two reason for following reveals, Twitter users are ready to make a purchase based on information gleaned from their stream.

Engage or Die

Creating a presence in social networks is mandatory, but it’s also not enough. Actively and thoughtfully engaging consumers in social networks is quickly becoming an expectation. As part of the study, consumers voiced their opinions and sentiment, some of which serves as a wake-up call to businesses everywhere:

“It’s EXPECTED that a company have some digital face – whether it’s on FB or Twitter I don’t know – but they need a strong electronic presence or you doubt their relevance in today’s marketplace.” Female 50-54

“Either they are not interested in the demographic that frequents Facebook and Twitter or they are unaware of the opportunity to get more exposure in a more interactive method.” Male 35-39

“It shows they are not really with it or in tune with the new ways to communicate with customers.” Female 18-24.

“If they’re not on Facebook or Twitter, then they aren’t in touch with the ‘electronic’ people.” Female 55-59

It’s clear. Those brands that focus on prospects and customers through social engagement will open new doors that increase brand awareness and sales through word of mouth. But perhaps more importantly, businesses will also earn expanded relevance in the age of a new and powerful medium.

Connect with Brian Solis on Twitter, LinkedIn, Tumblr, Google Buzz, Facebook

Have you had a chance to read, Engage!…?


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224 COMMENTS ON THIS POST To “In Social Media, Engagement Has Its Rewards”

  1. Great post!!! I am printing a few copies of this and to give to the many clients and students I have who ask…. so does social media usage guarantee increase sales for me? Social media is the tool, social engagement is what you do to create awareness and earn sales… thank you Brian!

    • Amisampath says:

      “Social media is the tool, social engagement is what you do to create awareness and earn sales”

      I second that 🙂 Most people misunderstand, that the tool itself can generate sales like magic.

  2. Danny Brown says:

    But is it any different from any type of business engagement? If you don't help your customers out by having an easy connect (think telephone trees versus option for direct dial), then you're immediately fighting customer dissatisfaction and lethargy.

    Same goes for clients – keeping them in the loop at all points of a project is key anyway.

    Social media is simply another avenue where doing business right should already be a given; it's not the avenue.

    And I'd probably temper the “Engage or die” mantra with “Do business properly” – the whole “do this or die” quotes are becoming a little sensationalist. If your customers aren't on social media (and not everyone's are), then not engaging isn't going to harm you that much.

  3. Hi Brian,

    Excellent post! You make a great point that engagement is key not just for reaching out to customers, but for prospects as well.

    While engagement is important for a business' social media marketing efforts, that's just one part of the equation. Businesses should also work to establish an effective method for measuring their social media ROI. The right tools can help you track, measure and report on visitors and leads generated from your social media efforts.

    We, Optify, just held a webinar that introduced a new framework for measuring your social media ROI. There's a full recording, along with a list of Q&As from the presentation on our blog: http://www.optify.net/webinars/buzz-to-bucks-fr

    Thanks,
    Erin Leach-Kemon

  4. UriOptify says:

    Hi Brian,
    Great article and very interesting stats. I found the stats about the customer stage in the purchase cycle the most interesting – over 40% are following/fans to get discounts and promotions – this is huge! Knowing that the customer is ready to buy makes it so much easier to tailor the message to match his/her state of mind; use the right keywords on Twitter and link the tweet to the promotional page and you can see how dell were able to make more than $1MM in sales just from Twitter.
    Thank you again for these numbers. Would you mind if we reuse them on our blog (referencing you of course)?
    Uri

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