Strategy consultancy Incyte Group, in association with social marketing firm Get Satisfaction, conducted a study to find out what drives consumers to want to engage with brands in social media. The report gives insights on how consumers would prefer to interact with brands on social networking channels.
The study was conducting by surveying responses from 1,897 qualified consumers who actively use the Internet and represent adults from all age, socio-economic, and geographic groups in the U.S. They were asked how they currently use the Internet to research, evaluate, purchase, and get service and support for products and services. The key finding emerging from the report is that social networks are not the first place people go to research products and services. Google and brand websites are. Here are some statistics from the report:
- For help and information in making purchase decisions, only 21.2% respondents would go to a social network, as opposed to 89.3% who would visit the company’s website.
- To look for product-related information, 81.1% respondents said they would first visit the company website, and 25.7% would visit a retail store. Only 19% would look at its Facebook page.
- When assessing content related to a company on social networks, 49.8% of participants clearly show a preference for content that has been vetted as high-quality by other consumers, and 34.7% preferred content that has been provided by a consumer with a good reputation for providing strong content. Content that is provided solely by the company is not rated very highly.
- Consumers prefer to join branded customer communities that they discovered through referrals from friends or their own research. The chart below shows the various means that consumers prefer to be introduced to a brand community, and the impact that each has on participation rates.
- The most cited reasons for seeking out a brand on a social network or community are getting information quickly – 32.1%, getting information from consumers similar to themselves – 21.3%, and getting the most accurate information – 18%.
- 42.1% participants said they would freely without an incentive become advocates for the products and services of the companies whose branded customer communities they joined. A further 40.5% said that they would do so with an incentive. Only 17.4% said that they would not become brand advocates.
The study thus shows the importance of building relationships with the customers. Consumers don’t want brand relationships to be a part of their open social networks; instead, they want company websites to be more like their experiences with open social networks.
“The community can have an entry point on your Facebook brand page, but your consumers want to interact with you in your branded customer community, not their open social networks.” - Dale Sakai, partner, The Incyte Group
Based on the findings, the company has some recommendations for brands, to boost the impact of their social media investments:
- Create a customer community to which all open social networks lead.
- Use these customer communities to make your website more ‘social’.
- Leverage the community to turn your best customers into advocates.
Do you agree with these recommendations? Do the findings of the report resonate with you? Share your thoughts with us.