Study deciphers consumers’ love-hate relationship with brands
A new survey from database marketing firm GI Insight indicates that the vast majority of consumers view social media as a no-go zone for brands and companies – on the surface, at least – as 82% of those who belong to at least one of these networks reject the idea of the sites they use being ‘invaded’ by advertising or commercial messaging.
But the research also confirms that, while consumers’ gut reaction towards advertising on social media sites appears to be overwhelmingly negative, their actual behavior demonstrates much more of a willingness to engage with brands.
The survey of more than 1,000 British consumers reveals that 64% of the respondents who use social media sites admit to having, in fact, ‘liked’ or ‘friended’ social media pages run by brands or companies, and 68% of those who have done so admit they are happy to receive advertising or personalized commercial messages from the brands or companies with which they have established a relationship.
Nevertheless, the research, which was representative of Britain by age group, gender, region and social class, also underscored the fact that brands need to move very carefully in this area, as 49% of consumers who have endorsed brands on social media say they have also ‘unfriended’ or ‘unliked’ a company or brand after receiving ‘an annoying level of messages’ from it. Additionally, 81% of all consumers using social media say it would seriously put them off a brand if it contacted them directly with commercial messages rather than posting updates via their newsfeeds.
Andy Wood, GI Insight’s managing director, notes: “Overall, the results show that the vast majority of British consumers are extremely wary of commercial messaging via social media and are keen to retain control over how and where they are exposed to it. This is an area in which companies and brands need to tread with a great deal of care. It is very easy to spook the consumer on social media by making uninvited overtures or getting heavy handed with too many sales pitches.”
Other findings in the survey included:
- 75% of consumers say they belong to at least one social media network, with nearly 90% using social media once a week or more
- 86% of social media users say it would seriously put them off a social media site itself if it allowed businesses to send advertising and commercial messages directly to them, rather than simply delivering information through their newsfeeds
- 92% of users of social media channels want these networks to keep advertising ‘very separate’ from ‘real chat’ and never allow the two to become mixed up
The research also indicates differing attitudes between the sexes, as 87% of female respondents who belong to at least one social media network object to these sites being ‘invaded’ by advertising and commercial messages, compared to only 76% of their male counterparts. Nevertheless, women are more willing to engage actively with a brand or company by ‘friending’ or ‘liking’ its page, with 68% of female social media users having done so, compared to just 58% of men.