Brands risk digital 'waste'

11 November 2011

LONDON: Many big brands are failing to reach consumers with their poorly targeted social media initiatives, TNS has warned.

A new report from the research firm has revealed that a majority (57%) of consumers in mature markets "do not want" to use advertisers' official social media profiles.

"Businesses are wasting time and money trying to reach people online without realising many resent big brands invading their social networks," the report added.

"Misguided digital strategies are generating mountains of digital waste, from friendless Facebook accounts to blogs no one reads."

Consumers' apparent apathy towards the pages comes despite the fact that 54% of users say that a social network is a "good place" to learn about products.

Moreover, according to TNS, 47% of consumers are leave comments and recommendations about brands online.

Social media is being increasingly used by companies as a way of engaging users. Facebook has hosted brand pages since 2007, while Google+ launched its own version earlier this week.

In terms of reach, Coca-Cola is the most-followed brand, having attracted over 35m Facebook "Likes" so far.

But TNS pointed out that the rush to set up branded social media profiles has resulted in a "cacophony" of online noise, meaning that brands must use judicious targeting and consider alternative digital touchpoints if they are to cut through.

Matthew Froggatt, the agency's chief development officer, said: "Social networks aren't always the right approach.

"If consumers in one market don't want to be talked to, can you use an alternative online method – creating owned digital media platforms, targeted sponsorship or search campaigns – to engage in an appropriate way that will achieve business results, without adding to the digital waste pile?"

Regionally, scepticism about brands' social media profiles was lowest in central and south America, with only a third of consumers in Colombia and Mexico saying they did not want to engage with brands on the platforms.

Data sourced from TNS; additional content by Warc staff