MUMBAI: The great majority of brand followers on social media are "dead wood" and contribute nothing beyond a meaningless boost to the numbers, an industry figure has argued.

Bedraj Tripathy, senior general manager/integrated marketing at Godrej Interio, a leading Indian furniture brand, told Thinking Aloud that his research into how social media followers interacted with brands showed that up to 90% could be classified as "complete wastes" who never came back to a brand page.

This was one of six types identified, the others being brand advocates, contesters, enquirers, dissatisfied customers and trolls.

He offered a further illustration of why numbers do not count when he outlined efforts to get at least 500 people into a chat session on Facebook but which ended up with between 50 and 80.

"Was our chat topic not so interesting? Were the invites late? Was our communication poor? How we can make ourselves more compelling?" were the questions he had asked himself. But it turned out that lower numbers meant higher engagement "and that led to higher direct business".

Engagement is a digital priority for Godrej Interio, Tripathy added, and often that was approached indirectly through activations that had little or nothing to do with furniture.

"We look at passions of people – photography, standup comedy, rock music, cooking – and drive relevance using multiple digital platforms," he explained. He aimed to have at least one event every month in the major cities to attract local enthusiasts who would in turn "build a larger buzz for me using their own social media".

Godrej Interio had also successfully created its own content for social media, producing 20 films of the reactions of different customers whose homes it had transformed. As a result, the business had moved on from simply selling individual pieces of furniture pieces, as consumers who had seen the videos came to buy coordinated furniture and accessories.

Developing content was easy "if you can put yourself in the shoes of the customer", said Tripathy.

Data sourced from Thinking Aloud; additional content by Warc staff