So, We Don’t Want to Engage with Brands via Social Media


I have been curious to learn how much our Digital Life has developed during the last year. The TNS Digital Life study of 2010 offered a comprehensive view across 46 markets and helped companies prepare for what was ahead. This week TNS released their 2011 Digital Life results.  The report reflects the Digital Life of 72,000 people across 60 countries and the findings are extraordinary.

Of course I am anxious to dive into all the data!

What was interesting? Everything…

Allow me to start with “Engage”

Our lack of excitement for engaging with brands via social media is rather interesting and I wanted to share a few thoughts.

TNS discovered that 57% of people in mature markets are simply not interested in engaging with brands via social media.  Folks in the UK [61%] and in the US [60%] are particularly disenchanted with brands via social media. This may not be surprising, but at the same time, people are increasingly creating “original” content and are anxious to talk about brands with anyone located within reach of their social voice.

  • 57% of people in developed markets do not want to engage with brands via social media
  • 47 % of global digital consumers now comment about brands online

Authenticity and Conviction

This is a time of discovery for brands. A journey that should soon help them understand, the idea of social media engagement was not designed to pick up where traditional marketing left off.  Even more compelling, high levels of engagement do not lead to influence or true connections.  Using social media as a form of engagement without trying to nurture a real connection is ridiculous.

Take into account why people are using social media. To communicate, to interact and to share.  Every social act comes with the anticipation that it will offer relevance to someone.  A good deed has been done, a smile has been shared and in each, a response is simply the best!

For brands the purpose of social media is to communicate, understand people, and how they see your offerings. Social media should also support collaboration, but to do so requires a very different mindset and almost humble positioning.

Within social media brands have an entirely different role.  Brands must have and express an authentic persona; offer services, resources and position (enable) people strategically within every endeavor. Simply engaging with people is not enough, brands have to form connections. Identify emotional triggers, begin a conversation and respond with conviction.  Co-creating and extending the brand experience is the essence of social media success.

How? People are creating original content, at the same time brand messages must be unique. Celebrating what people are naturally doing, or co-creating even branded-content, supports emotional ties.  Within the dynamics of this approach, people are positioned as the vital element. If conditions are right, people will reward brands with a mention on their Facebook page, Twitter feed or their most important circle!

The data also supports our suggestion that brands enable people-to-people connections. Supporting these connections will encourage a brand’s social mission.  

  • 47% of people comment about brands online

TNS’ Digital Life  also reports that people are open to talking about brands via social networks and are often excited to share their opinions.

  • Among those commenting, 46% of the reasons for writing comments is to HELP! 

We refer to this process as a Cycle-of-Courtesy.  People are compelled to share ideas and experiences with others. This has become a common and expected task within the most trusted of social groups. It’s as if “they feel it’s their duty…informing others is simply a natural part of the reciprocal process”.

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3 thoughts on “So, We Don’t Want to Engage with Brands via Social Media

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