More than ever, social media users are including brands in their list of friends and follows but according to the 2010 Cone Consumer New Media Study, five is the magic cutoff number.
How do you become part of the small, inner circle? You already know the answer to that. 77% of users said they followed a brand for free products or discounts. No surprise there. But getting the engagement and keeping it, are two different things.
Says Cone‘s director of new media, Mike Hollywood:
“Attracting new media followers is like starting a fire – coupons are your gasoline, and engaging content are the logs that keep the fire burning. Consumers’ affinity can only tolerate five brands, so companies need to think beyond the coupon or clever widget to figure out how to develop long-term relationships with real staying power. The best new media strategies are those that balance relevant content with timely promotions and ongoing company-consumer dialogue.”
According to the survey, 58% of users will stop following a company if it acts irresponsibly toward its consumers, over-communicates with them (58%) or provides irrelevant content (53%). Under-communicating (36%) or censoring user-generated content (28%) are the lesser reasons why people disconnect.
Personally, I disconnect from brands mostly because the deal I signed up for is over. For example, I’m currently following Lowe’s thanks to their crazy Black Friday promotion but once it’s over, I’ll likely “unlike” them. Facebook has made that easier than ever by including the option on the drop-down linked to each post. Since they added that ability, I’ve disconnected from several brands I was following in order to get a deal or coupon. Why bother disconnecting at all? It does tie back to that magic number five. I simply can’t tolerate more than five commercial messages popping up in my social media stream on Facebook. On Twitter, where things blend in and become invisible very quickly, my tolerance for following brands is much higher.
The takeaway here is that coupons and deals will bring them in but you have to up your game if you intend to keep the audience you developed. You have to deliver content that is useable or fun and you have to engage the community. If a person is a participant and not just a watcher, they’re more likely to stick around, share information and buy what you’re selling. And isn’t that the ultimate goal?
You can download the full presentation for free from Cone. Just click here.
Graphic by Cone