Following brands online comes with a proviso

Consumer motivation for engaging with brands online strongly depends on being rewarded for it.

Following brands online comes with a proviso

According to new research from Mintel, almost a quarter of Facebook users follow brands only when they get something in return, while 18% of consumers overall feel the same way.

However, nearly one in five consumers overall are happy to supply personal information to companies so “they can serve me better”.

Mintel says that 21% of consumers now claim to have followed or subscribed to a company’s social profile – rising to 28% of Facebook users and 47% of Twitter users. However, just 8% of consumers say they have conversed with a company via social media (11% for Facebook and 22% for Twitter).

Cecilia Liao, senior technology analyst at Mintel, said: “Our research reveals an interesting picture of consumers who will ‘engage in exchange’ with brands in the social media space. Brands who wish to use this medium may wish to think about the incentive they’re giving consumers for doing so, and brands should not assume that just because consumers are following them on social media they are engaged.

“Understanding how consumers like and want to interact with your brand is key to success with this medium,” she went on. “Companies need to establish what they’re using their social media channels for – and make this clear so consumers set their expectations on what benefits the channel will bring to them.”

The growing influence of social networks on purchasing decisions is also highlighted by the research. Some 14% of consumers overall claim they are more likely to buy a product or service “if I see my friends have commented positively or ‘liked’ it on social networks”.

However, that willingness to buy varies with age: 23% of under-35s agreed compared to only 9% of the over-35s.

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