As you can imagine, our firm is very interested in how people use social and digital media and how it relates to a brand. Not to mention many of the brands we work with are asking the same big questions we are:
- What motivates the social customer to take action with a brand?
- What keeps customers loyal to your digital brand?
- Since so many customers are on Facebook, should it not be the new corporate home page?
To find out more about the social media behaviours of consumers, we recently conducted a survey using the AskingCanadians™ online community to ask 1,000 Canadians why they engage with brands online and how they interact with brands through social media.
Over the next few weeks I’ll address each of these questions in a series of blog posts that will appear here.
Let’s start with what motivates the consumer to take action via social media. When it comes to motivation, we discovered that 64 per cent of consumers have taken one action or another to stay up-to-date with a brand via social media. We also discovered that two-thirds of consumers follow 5+ brands via social media. Many follow 20+. However, we know from our research that people only really pay close attention to about three brands via social media. Therefore, standing out from the pack and engaging your customer is very important.
People are typically motivated by contests and deals. But contests and deals are marketing tactics and they represent short-term wins. A brand might gain a lot of likes and a lot of followers in a short period of time with a contest, but it’s a one-time event versus building a deep relationship over time. Which we know is hard work and does not always affect the bottom line in the short term.
What we find really interesting is that one in three followers is not just looking for a deal or contest. Our findings show that one third actually want to be engaged more deeply. For example, people want to be involved from a product-development perspective. They want to be involved in expressing what they like and what they don’t like about your products and services. They want their voice heard and action taken.
My Starbucks Idea is a great example of leveraging consumers’ thoughts, opinions and ideas. That’s probably one of the most notable and successful examples out there. Another one is the RBC Next Great Innovator Challenge (see our case study here) where RBC called on students across Canada to generate ideas to tackle big questions for the bank.
Another interesting finding is the fact that consumers are also motivated to use social media as a means to express their dissatisfaction with a brand. David-Michel Davies, executive director of the Webby Awards, recently did a very interesting talk on The Culture of (Dis)Satisfaction. Before the advent of social media, when people expressed their dislike for a brand it was usually in a one-on-one conversation with either a customer service representative or a manager at a store. It was contained.
But now customers are motivated by the ability to express their dislikes, as well as their likes, which is unfortunate because what’s happening is that the social media channel is turning into just another customer service channel.
This is focusing brands to spend an enormous amount of time responding to customer service issues, which is incredibly important, but they’re not always getting constructive ideas around how to better the brand or how to make the customer experience better.
Brands need to be more proactive in getting ahead of the game. Instead of the channel being used by consumers to voice their dissatisfaction, brands need to think about how to turn that around. (I’ll have more on this in a future post.)
We also looked at how people are engaging brands across the board and how they’re choosing to get messages sent to them. Social media is one method and e-newsletters are another. When we combined Facebook, Twitter and other social media vehicles, they were just slightly ahead of e-newsletters as the primary way that consumers choose to stay up to date with a brand, which I thought was kind of interesting.
We’re starting to see people saying, “I want to engage my favourite brands through social media.” However, one of the big problems is the huge amount of noise found within the social media sphere. This is the same issue email experienced a number of years ago with the inbox being overrun with messages. So, the big question is; once a customer is paying attention to your brand via social media how do you keep them?
Next week, I’ll take a look at consumer loyalty and the reasons why consumers remain loyal to a digital brand.