German brands fall short on social media

26 May 2010

BERLIN: Some of the biggest brand owners in Germany are not taking advantage of social media to forge meaningful relationships with their customers.

Zucker Kommunikations partnered with Musiol Munzinger Sasserath and Nielsen to establish how successfully major advertisers in the country were leveraging the opportunities afforded by Facebook.

The 26 brands featured in this analysis included telecoms providers such as Nokia and Deutsche Telekom, auto manufacturers like BMW and Fiat and FMCG specialists ranging from Axe and Gillette to Dr Oetker.

In all, the average company was found to boast 3,600 Facebook fans in Germany, although 61% of this audience only took part in "lightweight" interactions by registering the fact they "liked" the company concerned.

A further 34% displayed "midweight" engagement, demonstrated by their posting of comments on brand pages, while 5% were "heavyweight" enthusiasts who uploaded video, images and other such content in the same way.

More broadly, only 4.3% of people following the firms assessed were active on a brand profile in any given week.

Overall, the study asserted that 13% of companies could be described as “passive” participants on Facebook, as they typically only offered users of the social network the chance to sign up as fans.

A further 50% regularly added comments and content to their brand pages, and thus treated this medium as a one-way communications channel to distribute information, deals and discounts.

Elsewhere, just over 10% of corporate members of Facebook had created material enabling netizens to enhance their own profiles and offered rewards for individuals who interacted with their brands.

Finally, 25% of businesses genuinely engaged in a dialogue with consumers by listening and responding to feedback posted on their "walls", encouraging co-creation, and so on.

As a result, organisations in this latter category – such as Lindt chocolate and the carmaker Fiat – recorded the highest number of "midweight" and "heavyweight" connections on Facebook.

Further findings in the report showed that the rate at which people signed up as fans of a specific brand tended to slow over time.

Some 58% of firms had also added links to their Facebook profile to their official websites, with two-thirds of this group promoting this tool on their homepage.

However, Matthias Bonjer, the managing director of Zucker Kommuikation, suggested that most companies "rarely" took an integrated approach between their TV advertising and social media efforts.

Data sourced from Zucker Kommunikations; additional content by Warc staff