Facebook, Twitter and other social media sites are the focus of increased effort and investment by small and large businesses who hope this activity will bring new customers and revenue through the door. Marketers are making this change because consumers are spending more time than ever on social media. But will this investment really make a difference for marketers?
Consumers have always recommended products and services to each other. And while some of this activity may be occurring on social media sites, this format barely registers in a poll just released by Gallup. The top sources for personal recommendation are:
- Spouse 50%
- Children 13%
- Parents 12%
- Friends 12%
- Expert 11%
In comparison, company-sponsored Twitter or Facebook pages come in at 1%.
Gallup researchers say “customer engagement with a brand drives social engagement,” not the other way around. Marketers will have a far better outcome with their social media efforts if they focus on existing loyal customers. This is because these individuals have resolved any negative perceptions about a marketer. The vast majority (74%) of highly engaged customers have positive feelings about the marketers’ products and services and will be brand champions. The Gallup findings also suggest that not all social networkers are the same and that social networking continues to be effective offline as well as online.
In addition, marketers must consider how they measure social engagement. The current hype would have merchants focus on easy-to-measure metrics like app downloads or click-throughs that occur for online social networks. However, true social engagement takes place both online and offline. The Gallup study authors, James and Asplund, argue that marketers must create “content or ideas that resonate with their prospects or customers” and foster “engagement regardless of the method or channel.” Through these methods, marketers can successfully use existing customers to attract new business.[Source: James, Blaise and Asplund, Jim. Social Media. Gallup Management Journal. 1 Sep. 2011. Web. 19 Sep. 2011]