We’ve been suggesting it for quite a while already, but thanks to the latest report by TNS Digital Life, there’s finally some compelling evidence that social media marketing isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.
The study, which covered more than 70,000 users in 60 countries around the world, showed that nearly 60% of online social media users are not interested engaging with brands via social media.
The figures fluctuate depending on country, with some locations, like the United Kingdom and the United States having a more than 60% aversion to social media branding, while others, particularly in less developed countries, being slightly less resistant.
TNS suggests that it is fast growth markets which are currently more open to brand interaction, with Nigeria being one of the countries that is least resistant to online brands, with 52% of users considered more open to brands than resistant to them. Developed markets on the other hand, show resistance to both engaging and buying through social media.
South Africa Social Marketing Resistant
In South Africa, relatively developed, 3 out of 5 social media users are resistant to social brand engagement, and according to chief development manager Matthew Froggart, “Winning and keeping customers is harder than ever.”
And with only 7% of users surveyed in South Africa being willing to engage with companies on blogs or Facebook pages, the study suggests that South Africans are not interested in commenting on brands in the social media sphere.
Targeted Social Media Marketing
Based on the data accumulated in the study, Froggart suggested that many brands are wasting money in an attempt to build up large numbers of followers, without having a clear strategy of what to do with them, or even how to engage.
He said, “There remain a large number of brands that fail to recognise that digital activity needs to be aligned to –and deliver against – clear business objectives. It is not just about digital marketing, but marketing as a part of their business strategy,” he said. “The important thing is not to take a standalone activity-led view, but to plan a long-term presence that is true to the brand promise.”
He suggests that the fundamental failure lies in the right way to engage in social media. Just because social media is where people’s attention is, that doesn’t automatically make it the right place for a brand. He added that the instinctive approach, to interrupt conversation and sell themselves is actually a big mistake.
Consumer Expectations And Marketing Models
“Increasingly consumers want brands to do more than just sell them stuff, in fact they often reject brands making those kinds of advances. But at the same time, if brands are going to have conversations with consumers, they need to bring more than just marketing packages, they need to actually have a value exchange.”
This may be one of the most important things to remember about social media marketing. Jumping in to say “Look how good we are, buy our stuff” is going to alienate the people you’re trying to reach in the first place. A social media presence isn’t about marketing a product or a service. It’s about being a participant.
Providing value to the client or potential client doesn’t mean offering them a good deal. It’s about talking to them. Offering suggestions that help them without enriching yourself. People don’t trust brands, because they know they have an ulterior motive. The trick is not to let it show. Collaborate, don’t dominate.
If you’re one of the many doing social media marketing, try this:
For a few weeks or months, carry on participating socially, without mentioning your brand or your deals or your special offers. Participate, don’t sell. Social media should, like SEO, be a very long term strategy. You’re not going to get anywhere if you just dive in and try to start selling.
You can find the TNS Digital Life Study on Brands as Friends here.