A lot of buzz has been made about companies using social networking to promote their products or business but a new study suggests direct marketing techniques like offering discounts and special promotions is still the best and most effective way. “Based on our research, it’s not so much about some type of ‘shared passion’ for a brand’s values. Largely, it’s about deals — pure and simple,” states the 2009 FEED report from Razorfish.
The research study suggests that most people connect to a companies social networking site for deals and special promotions. Starbucks has gained almost 5 million fans on its Facebook brand page by offering coupons for free items. Whole Foods, meanwhile, leads brands on Twitter with more than 1.5 million followers by promoting weekly specials and shopping tips.
“Consumers are not only want to engage with brands, but engaging with brands is having an inordinate effect on affinity for brands and the likelihood to purchase,” said Schmitt. Among the factoids on online interaction in the report:
•40% have friended a brand on Facebook or Twitter
•77% have watched a commercial or video ad on YouTube with some frequency
•73% have posted a product or brand review on sites such as Amazon, Yelp, Facebook or Twitter
•70% have participated in brand-sponsored contests or sweepstakes
To retain and add customers, Schmitt stressed that marketers need to shift focus from brand awareness and impressions to creating campaigns that drive people to make purchases and spread the word about products and services they use to friends.
That can cut both ways, of course. Sixty-five percent of survey participants said they had been influenced by a digital interaction with a brand, both positively and negatively. “A premium brand may not come out with a premium digital experience, and that could change someone’s perception,” said Schmitt.