Unlocking the power of social media

Blog posted by Harriet Clarke
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Research released today (4th July 2013) by the Internet Advertising Bureau UK (IAB) in conjunction with the social media council proves the effectiveness of social media. The IAB’s Communications Manager, Harriet Clarke, shares her thoughts on the study’s highlights.

The power of social media was evident from the social media effectiveness research – the channel allows consumers and brands to have a two way relationship like no other discipline, turning consumers into ambassadors and true brand devotees. However, this doesn’t happen overnight. Brands need to focus on the channel to reap its benefits and maintain a strong level of consumer interest.

Consumer insights:
In this FMCG-focussed study, the average age of consumers that engaged with the brands on social media was 39 years old, 84% of which were female. While this may reflect the mix of brands, Kettle, Heinz Beanz and Twinings that participated in the study, it reminds us that social isn’t just a channel for 17-year-olds. The study also revealed that 86% of consumers are accessing social media whilst at home with the majority choosing to do so on their laptops (59%), followed by smartphones (31%), desktop (30%) and finally tablets (12%). Again, though this could be related to this subset of fans, it’s a reminder that different demographic cohorts interact with brands on social media in different ways.

All three brands experienced uplift in sentiment after implementing their social media campaigns. Nearly 80% of consumers said they would be more inclined to buy more often in the future because of a brand’s presence on social media, with 83% of consumers saying they would trial a product because of a brand’s presence, emphasising the importance and power of the channel.

Frequent activity on social media is key:
An example of this was with Heinz’s new product launch around ‘Snap Pots.’ Taking a look at the Snap Pots activity across an eight-week period showed that consistently posting maintains momentum and mindshare. Missing a week’s post for a new product you’re promoting can mean you have to play catch up the next.

The power of a ‘Like’ is significant:
Somewhat intuitively, the research showed that when a consumer viewed and went on to ‘like’, positive feelings towards brands and future purchase likelihood could be expected to follow. Consumers “liking” a brand were more likely to purchase a product in the future, so focussing activity on stimulating “likes” is essential. Having a long-term yet flexible strategy is vital for a brand in achieving this. All three brands had a well thought out strategy, were dynamic and flexibly responded to fan activity.

All three brands clearly respect their fans, this is crucial. It’s important to remember not to treat your fans any differently if they were standing in your store on the high-street. Bombarding your fans with irrelevant messages isn’t effective and socially savvy consumers won’t stand for it.

Finally timely and relevant content is crucial – the study proved that thinking creatively will position your brand as an engaging forward thinker. However, the study also showed that keeping core objectives and brand values in mind when publishing content on your social media platforms is a recipe for success. A beautiful photo of your product (whether you take that or whether a fan does) can resonate with your consumer just as well (if not better) than something with incredibly slick production values.

For more detail, IAB members can download the full Social Media Effectiveness Research report here.

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