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It Pays to Pay: Brands Using Social Media | Business

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It Pays to Pay: Brands Using Social Media

Fact: follower, friends and fans are fickle. At least according to a recent study.

Most consumers are now online in one way or another. New media adoption in the last year has risen by more than 48 percent. And, where customers go, brands follow. But creating a social media presence is easier said than done. The competition for followers is getting fierce, requiring brands to do more for their audiences than merely show up…they have to poney up.

Loyal followers have become the holy grail in social media settings. While they still enjoy expressing their affinity on the web–liking on Facebook, following on Twitter, and subscribing on RSS or by email–the average user embraces only 4.6 companies online.

All is not lost, however. The same study also found that 86 percent of consumers are open to engaging with brands on new media, especially if incentives are involved. According to the report, before deciding whether to engage with companies online, 77 percent of new media users look for free products, coupons or discounts.

Where users are looking for these incentives:

  • Social networks – 48%

  • Mobile devices – 20%

  • Message boards – 20%

  • Blogs – 13%

  • Online games – 12%

Coupons and deals might bring in a new follower, but it’s up to the brand to keep them. Engaging content, proactive customer service and useful resources build the loyalty needed to maintain new audiences long term.

In fact, more and more, the newness of social media has worn off and users are far savvier. Even satisfied consumers online are willing to turn on their favorite brands, punishing them if they disengage or behave badly. Users say they will stop following brands if they act irresponsibly toward their consumers (58%), over-communicate with them (58%), under-communicate (36%), provide irrelevant content (53%), or censor user-generated content (28%).

On the other hand, companies that deliver for users can expect their followers to:

  • Share information about the company across their own social networks – 62%

  • Feel a stronger connection to the company – 61%

  • Feel better served by the company – 60%

  • Purchase the company’s products or services – 59%

What’s clear is social media is no longer the “easy” marketing tool, happily left in the hands of an intern. Successfully managing an online brand identity takes an incredible amount of hard work, time, patience, creativity, strategy, and, yes, even money. It’s a major investment, one with big rewards or big consequences.


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