Brands and social media: what consumers think

The Guardian // 30th August 2015

Powered by article titled “Brands and social media: what consumers think” was written by Steve Sponder, for on Friday 28th August 2015 11.31 UTC

Social media is an integral part of the online marketing plans for many brands, but few manage to get it right consistently. Instead of delivering targeted content that people engage with and want to share, too often brands seem to favour quantity over quality.

To better understand how effectively (or not) social media is being used to deliver brand content, we carried out a research project (pdf) of 2,000 UK adults. It revealed a lot about how people are becoming frustrated by how brands approach and update them on social platforms.

Quantity and relevance

The number one cause of frustration among those surveyed was too many updates: an option selected by 29% of respondents. A similar amount, 27%, cited social updates that were clearly irrelevant and not personalised to them as a frustration.

Having gone to the effort to develop communities across different social platforms, brands are still using a one-size-fits-all approach to content rather than tailoring activity to the various interests and behaviours specific to each platform. Your Facebook followers, for example, may not want the same (or as many) updates as your Twitter followers. What works on one platform – what to post, how to post it and when – does not necessarily work on another.


Of those we surveyed, 20% were annoyed by content they considered “too trivial” – in fact, this was the most common cause of frustration among millennial consumers aged 18-24 and 25-34 (34% and 31% respectively).

Social channels

Our study also found that Facebook is the platform people feel most comfortable with when engaging with a brand: just over half (56%) favour it, with Twitter second. Facebook is also the favoured social channel for brand interaction among millennials aged 18-24 (46%), with Twitter second again. Perhaps unsurprisingly, this younger age group also like other platforms such Tumblr and Snapchat much more than other age groups.

That’s not to say that Facebook should be the default social option. Twitter is great for immediate feedback and celebrity endorsement, while Snapchat can be the ideal platform for surprise value with younger audiences. Facebook, however, is still king for generating site traffic.

Brands must ask themselves who they want to talk to and what they want to achieve. The thing to bear in mind is that Facebook tends to be a passive experience – many people scroll their news feeds without posting – whereas on other social platforms, they might engage more directly.

Top tips

So what can brands do to make their social presence more effective and meaningful?

  • Pay for it: Getting in front of the right people with relevant content often means paying for the privilege. Facebook and Twitter have both amped up their paid social offerings, so that’s an option. Paid social campaigns can provide a good way to target your messages more appropriately, but stop if it’s not working. Remember: test, measure, learn.
  • Quality over quantity: Are you really getting value from 20 tweets and five Facebook posts a day? If your target audience only goes online after work and at lunchtime, scale back and time your social campaigns to match.
  • Choose your platforms wisely: Think about what you want to achieve. Do you want people to come directly to your website? It’s not that easy to include links in Instagram and Snapchat (and get traction from them) so those platforms are probably not for you. Facebook, meanwhile, may have traffic, reach and scale, but does it have the cachet you seek for brand building?

Steve Sponder is managing director of Headstream

To get weekly news analysis, job alerts and event notifications direct to your inbox, sign up free for Media & Tech Network membership.

All Guardian Media & Tech Network content is editorially independent except for pieces labelled “Brought to you by” – find out more here. © Guardian News & Media Limited 2010

Published via the Guardian News Feed plugin for WordPress.


Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *