Brands set out social goals

30 September 2011

NEW YORK: Driving word of mouth, boosting consideration levels and enhancing customer relationships are some of the key reasons brand owners are using social media, research has found.

Microsoft Advertising, a unit of the global IT giant, and Advertiser Perceptions, the insights provider, surveyed 700 major corporations currently utilising these platforms to engage consumers.

Among the highest-spending companies featured in the analysis, 27% stated that the primary motivation for their investment was stimulating word of mouth between shoppers.

More specifically, these marketers hoped to identify and connect with influencers, secure buzz about their brands, products and deals, and inspire viral distribution to a relevant audience.

The most important challenge was concerning the last of these goals, as two-thirds of firms believed the word of mouth generated typically did not reach the intended demographic.

Proving the return on investment from campaigns run via social media services was also a commonly-mentioned issue by the communications specialists questioned.

Elsewhere, the study revealed encouraging brand consideration and trial took second place in terms of the incentive to leverage sites like Facebook, having been cited by 26% of the executive panel.

Direct response marketing efforts hoping to fuel an actual engagement or conversation with present and potential buyers scored 21%, taking third position in the process.

Customer relationship management, which has proved a particularly popular model on Twitter, the microblogging platform, received 18% on this metric.

However, social "listening" or other "inbound" objectives – linked to web users discovering brands in a more organic than marketing-led fashion – posted a modest 6%.

Additional research by Microsoft Advertising demonstrated that 50% of consumers are likely to buy something as a result of word of mouth recommendations, but also noted 90% of all such conversations take place offline.

"This certainly backs up social marketers' desire to reach the right social audience for their brand," said Beth Uyenco Shatto, Microsoft Advertising's global research director.

Data sourced from Microsoft Advertising; additional content by Warc staff