What 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.