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What Do Customers Want from Brands on Social Media?

social media engagementWhat do consumers want from brands on social media?

Is it relevant or interesting content? Is it engagement and conversations? Free pastries? Contests?

Or are consumers looking to be engaged at all when push comes to shove?

The whole idea of engagement is starting to get more attention as having a social media presence is now table stakes.

The concept of engagement is, in theory, compelling to brands because it means having stronger relationships with consumers to drive awareness, loyalty and sales.

But how much do consumers want to engage with brands, and how well are brands doing to engage them?

According to a recent study by AdMap, less than 0.5% of Facebook fans engage with brands they have “Liked”. Of the 200 brands studied, only one brand had an engagement level of more than 2%, while only 10% of brands reached 1%.

So why the lack of engagement?

AdMap said the low engagement levels shouldn’t be a surprise because they reflect historical consumer behaviour. “Consumers don’t love their brands; rather, they are polygamously loyal to a small group of offerings in the category In effect, we are loyal switchers rather than brand loyals.”

Translation: Consumers don’t actively engage much with brands, regardless of the medium, so expectations that social media should be a more powerful engagement medium are off-base.

Here’s some more food for thought: A study by Corporate Executive Board that involved 7,000 consumers suggests it is a myth that brands can keep customers through engagement. (Source: Harvard Business Review)

The study found that only 23% of the consumers said they have a relationship with a brand, while 77% of consumers said they didn’t have a relationship with a brand because “It’s just a brand, not a member of my family.”. Instead, the study found what brands really want from brands when they go online are discounts.

So what should brands do if consumers have little interest in engaging or having a relationship with them?

CEB suggests brands need to re-set their expectations and behaviour. It recommends brands: “Stop bombarding consumers who don’t want a relationship with your attempts to build one through endless emails or complex loyalty programs.”

The bottom line may be consumers don’t want to engage with brands, and that engagement, like many things within the social media realm, is more hype than fact.

It may mean the “Like” button is little more than a click as opposed to the start of a new and promising relationship.

It could be engagement is not as important or relevant to consumers, or overblown.

Update: It was rightly pointed out I didn’t answer the question posed in the headline. Consumers may not want to engage but I think they’ll accept value-added information about products and services, particularly if it’s done creatively.

As someone said in a comment, consumers may not want regular contact but if a brand speaks to them (versus at them), they come back from time to time.


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4 Comments on What Do Customers Want from Brands on Social Media?

Mila Araujo said : Guest Report 6 years ago

This was a very interesting post. I think that the key here falls into your quote: “Stop bombarding consumers who don’t want a relationship with your attempts to build one through endless emails or complex loyalty programs.” As far as I am concerned, and by the definition of engagement that I would use, the above simply doesn't qualify. I don't consider loyalty programs and emails engagement. I consider engagement, responsive dialogue. A very different approach on the definition. When I tweet @RogersHelps for example, they get back to me quickly, they resolve the issue, they follow up with me and every once in a while they say hello to me. If it wasn't for @RogersHelps, I think its fair to say I would have changed companies long time ago. Another example, David's Tea, very engaging. As the true meaning of engagement becomes evident, I feel pretty strongly that brands who are online and mastering the art of engagement will be very successful. I just posted something about this on my own blog yesterday, the bottom line being that as a "Socialized" consumer, dealing with non social brands is actually becoming intolerable. Brands that really get engagement are so much more pleasant to deal with - you can check out my take on it here: Overall, i agree with what you are saying, but don't agree with referring to the behavior described as engagement. :) Let me know what you think about my post, since it suggests that socially minded consumers will refuse to work with brands who do not have a social mindset. Note that being on social does not equal a social business or mindset. Your examples above make me think of non-social mindset businesses thinking they are engaging when they are not. Thanks to Jason Falls for pointing me to your post!

CharlieCurve said : Guest Report 6 years ago

Well written post, but I agree with Kiera, the headline was a mismatch. Everyday, we all use hundreds of brand name products. We slip from our Wamsutta sheets into our Merrell shoes. We Sonicare our smile and scent up with Old Spice. We sip our Diet Coke and shift our Chevy Volt into drive. Just about everything thing we touch, taste, see and smell at home and at the office is a brand wanting to be our friend. Now imagine the nightmare of having all of them interacting with you (and cluttering your facebook feed). It would be an unrivaled cacophony like that scene in Minority Report were every billboard is talking to Tom Cruise. We may like you. We may even love you. But that doesn't mean we want to chat with you.

Mark Evans said : subscriber Report 6 years ago

Kiera: You're right. If it's not engagement, then what is it. I'm not sure but they seem to like contests...and free pastries. :) Thanks for the comment. Mark

kiera said : Guest Report 6 years ago

Thanks for sharing but I'm not sure this article delivers the promise of the headline.

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