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Are Your Ears Burning? In Social Networks, One-Third of Consumers Talk Brands Every Week

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.

Twitter

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.

Facebook

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?

#ThisisYourTime

Connect with Brian Solis on Twitter, LinkedIn, Tumblr, Google Buzz, Facebook
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Please consider reading, Engage!: It might just change the way you think about Social Media

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131 COMMENTS ON THIS POST To “Are Your Ears Burning? In Social Networks, One-Third of Consumers Talk Brands Every Week”

  1. Could it be possible that most of the person are fan of a brand/product before they achieve a follower status? i cant see the causation between attention and action.

  2. Dean says:

    I am less interested in saying if there is an up or down trend between 2009 and 2010. I would say based on these numbers that any differences are not statistically significant. What is significant is the absolute value of the numbers which are very large. I think that is the real story.

  3. Allen Bonde says:

    Great piece and a must read for marketers. I also agree with Dean's comment that it's the (big) numbers – esp on Twitter – that get my attention vs slight differences between 09/10.

    But the real kicker and call to action for me is the notion of 'businesses must learn to convert conversations into corresponding action and long-term value.' Man, this is it!

    I've actually been thinking about this process, and how brands/retailers can move from connecting, to engaging to converting. I've posted a first version of a 'maturity model' for this process at http://blog.offerpop.com – would love comments/additions since I'm currently working on v.2.

  4. Cathy Dunham says:

    This article is a great compilation of recent studies and surveys, which is sufficient to jumpstart your co-workers who may be lethargic on their social media skills. And it definitelly offers excellent stats to show businesses (B2B as well as B2C) the value of getting their game on when it comes to being “engagement-savvy” in social networking!! Seems like there's always room for us to improve on our social skills! Thanks for the info surge, Brian!

    Just a friendly critique: Using purple horizontal bars for both of the first 2 charts seems to suggest a comparison of the Twitter and Facebook findings. Because their questions are different (and rightly so) and are from different sources, the stats may visually encourage others to use the information inaccurately. Just my statistician-psyche leaking out here. 🙂

  5. Thanks for the post Brian, I always enjoy the stats you bring to the table. I have a similar question to Andreas below, the old chicken vs. the egg question. Which came first, and why? And can you prove that one caused the other or are we stuck in the grey area for now?

    Great brands (think Starbucks) were social before they had a social media program. (200,000 Facebook fans were present before Starbucks corporate got involved). But when a company is big, old and boring, (and people don't truly “like” them in the first place), they have a much bigger task than “finding ways to get liked on Facebook.”

  6. Some numbers to supplement your own, from our stats page:

    -The average consumer mentions specific brands over 90 times per week in conversations with friends, family, and co-workers. (Keller Fay, WOMMA, 2010)

    -In a study conducted by social networking site myYearbook, 81 percent of respondents said they'd received advice from friends and followers relating to a product purchase through a social site; 74 percent of those who received such advice found it to be influential in their decision. (Click Z, January 2010)

    -90% of consumers online trust recommendations from people they know; 70% trust opinions of unknown users. (Econsultancy, July 2009)

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  11. Dave Toole says:

    Nice graph of what tools relate to what human behaviors when it come to impact on product choice, it would be nice to add time to this, such as how campaigns look at these tools and techniques. Well done!

  12. Kyle Lacy says:

    Good post especially for marketers.

  13. Omar Alam says:

    I'd have to say that it's closer to 50% of consumers who talk brands in a given week, just in different aspects, and probably without even being aware of it. When you hit that shiny “Like” button, especially on Facebook, it does connect you to the brand/product/service in some way, but is also a free form of advertising for both you and the brand. For example, if I “Like” Aston Martin, it shows up on my Facebook page through my feed, on the brand's page of people who “Like” them, and also on my permanent (until I change something) profile.

    The brand gets free plugs from us, our “social like-ability” goes up, as well as the transparency of your own personal brand.

    Kinda cool isn't it?

  14. James says:

    Very useful as always Brian. Have forwarded to our marketing people as required reading. Many thanks.

  15. NFL Jerseys says:

    Thanks for the post Brian, I always enjoy the stats you bring to the table. I have a similar question to Andreas below, the old chicken vs. the egg question. Which came first, and why? And can you prove that one caused the other or are we stuck in the grey area for now?

    Great brands (think Starbucks) were social before they had a social media program. (200,000 Facebook fans were present before Starbucks corporate got involved). But when a company is big, old and boring, (and people don't truly “like” them in the first place), they have a much bigger task than “finding ways to get liked on Facebook.”

  16. Walter Lim says:

    I think its a great development in the US where lots of big companies embrace social networks in a holistic fashion. Here in Singapore, it appears that talking about brands isn't quite as prominent compared unless the company made a major customer service boo-boo. Most of the social networking activities here largely revolve around entertainment, gossip and online diarists sharing what they did over their weekends.

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