Social media didn’t invent conversations, it provided us with tools to surface and organize them. Conversations about brands predates the mediums used to connect messages and aspirations with consumers.
The motivation for brands to engage in social networks varies based on the culture and agility of each company, but what is constant is the aspiration to connect with customers and prospects to earn awareness, attention and connections. On the other hand, B2B and B2C consumers have also expressed desire to connect with those brands whose intent is genuine and beneficial to the each engagement and the overall relationship. The time has come to not only engage, but do so in a way that’s mutually beneficial to individuals, brands, and the ecosystem at large.
In April 2010, Performics commissioned ROI Research to study Twitter behavior around brands. The study found that 33% of Twitter users share opinions about companies or products at least once per week. More so, 32% make recommendations while 30% seek guidance and direction.
Did you get that?
33% talk brands 1x per week
32% make recommendations
30% seed advice
In the study, we see can compare responses over a short six month period. Depending on how you interpret the data, it appears as though consumer behavior is inching towards the promised land or on the other hand, the documented uptick demonstrates a slow or slowing adoption rate.
Clearly, Twitter users are supportive. Their responses and also their online activity indicates tells us as much. But if you were to base future decisions on social marketing and service strategies, the results of this particular study might cause you to second guess your plans. While the numbers are still incredibly promising, we must read between the lines to see beyond a slight downward trend.
Just over 40% would attend a promotional or sponsored event, which for Twitter, equates to the need to factor Tweetups or meetups into the mix.
Roughly 45% stated that they would link to a brand-related ad, which is consistent between 2009 and 2010.
Here’s where things get interesting…In 2009, 51% claimed that they would purchase the company’s product/service, but only 48% expressed similar sentiment in 2010.
In 2009, 55% admitted to talking about or expressed a willingness to discuss brands whereas 52% stated as such in 2010.
Referrals also took a slight hit, with 55% in 2009 and 53% in 2010 stating that they would recommend the product/brand as a result of online connections.
Earlier this year, I made a controversial prediction at the Ragan Social Media Conference hosted by Coca Cola. I predicted that in 2011, brands would dedicate greater time and resources to cultivating communities on Facebook over Twitter. I shared this idea not because I believe that Twitter is going to become less prevalent in overall marketing mix, instead I believe that Facebook will grow in its prominence as a centralized hub for defining the consumer experience where brand managers will host organized events, interaction, commerce, and corresponding activity. The data below seems to offer a glimpse that this might be the case.
Facebook edged a bit higher between the 2009 and 2010 studies, almost across the board.
Consumers expressed a 3% increase between 2009-2010 from 26 to 29% when it comes to interacting with the brand in Facebook.
Customers also shared that engagement on Facebook helps them feel as if they’re valued, increasing from 28 to 30%.
When it comes to inviting greater interaction, growth was stagnant year over year.
Overall, many believe that Facebook is a solid way to get information about companies and products edging 1% higher from 40 to 41%
The Role of the Social Consumer is Gaining Momentum and Importance
When we compare this data to another recent study conducted by Chadwick Martin Bailey along with iModerate Research Technologies, we find that individuals who follow brands on Facebook and Twitter are 51% and 67% respectively more likely to buy a product post connection. Accordingly, Facebook and Twitter users are 60% and 79% more likely to recommend a brand as a result of the engagement online. Those numbers are astounding, yet the opportunity is far from realized.
However, it’s clear that while people are open to meaningful connections and interaction, businesses must learn to convert conversations into corresponding action and long-term value. There is a greater opportunity on Twitter and Facebook than we may realize.
The last mile of engagement is nothing short of the complete socialization of business. The roles of the social consumer, even if they’re a follower on Twitter or they “like” the brand page on Facebook, businesses must cater to the various needs of the whole of the community as well as the parts that contribute to its sum.
Based on the data that I’ve reviewed contained in countless studies, the prospects are nothing short of blinding. But therein lies the opportunity. No two brands or consumers are created alike, meaning that the triggers that incite action and response are yours to discover and cultivate. This is about growing the opportunity based on engagement and adaptation. Social consumers are on a highway where regression isn’t an exit. The question is, how will you participate to guide their journey and experience?
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