Brands fail to engage social media users

02 April 2012

LONDON: Marketers in the UK are failing to engage consumers making comments about their brands on social media sites like Facebook and Twitter, new research has revealed.

Marketing Week, the trade title, and Maritz Research, the insights provider, polled 1,000 adults, 81% of which had uploaded opinions about goods specific and services on the web. A further 77% expected to do so in the future.

Some 85% of the participants who had entered comments on the net concerning a brand did not receive a reply. In all, 47% would be "happy" to hear back from a business in such a way, and 32% would "love" this kind of response.

"The large percentage of people who had never been contacted after posting a complaint is a real example of where companies are missing a trick," said Maya Robert, content editor and social media manager at uSwitch, the price comparison website.

When discussing the 15% of consumers who had received a message from a brand, 32% "loved" it and 47% ranked their engagement simply as being "OK".

"I think we will always be surprised by how much people want you to be visible and step in and give help," said Stuart Handley, EMEA director of communication for Dell, the IT group.

Nearly half of the panel had utilised social media to air their views relating of companies, with 24% providing favourable feedback in this way and 23.5% "venting feeling" to friends and family.

For 14% of interviewees, this medium had been a "last resort", and 8% opted for such an approach in anticipation of achieving a rapid reply from the organisation involved.

Overall, 74% of contributors who had mentioned brands on Facebook generally adopted a positive tone and 26% complained, figures hitting 17% and 5% respectively for Twitter, and falling to 10% and 2% for YouTube.

Among those shoppers making remarks about goods and services online, 58% would have a "higher opinion" of corporations that responded, the analysis added.

When complaining, 74% of customers were seeking an apology, 39% sought offers or vouchers, 34% wished to be thanked by a firm and 29% hoped to gain financial compensation.

"More than 90% of the incoming traffic on our social media channels is customer-related comments or issues," said Jakub Hrabovsky, head of web relations and social media at Vodafone, the telco. "The vast majority just want a solution and don't care whether you apologise or offer them compensation."

Data sourced from Marketing Week; additional content by Warc staff