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Businesses ‘waste time and money’ on social media

15:51 on Thu, 10 Nov 2011 | Social Media | 1 Comment

Nearly two-thirds of us Brits don’t want to engage with businesses on social media – that’s according to a study launched today by research firm TNS Group.

Its ‘Digital Life’ study, which looked at 72,000 consumers in 60 countries, found the largest amount of hostility towards businesses on social media was in the US (60%) and here in the UK (61%). The findings suggest that businesses are wasting their time and money trying to reach people online and that this is resulting in what TNS calls ‘digital waste’.

But is this really the case? And should businesses be worried about the findings?

What I think this study fails to grasp is that, rather than social media being a waste of time for businesses, too many just don’t ‘get it’.

Allow me to explain.

Social media is all about people connecting with the things they love, rather than engaging with marketing messages broadcasted at them through their social profiles. I believe that it’s less about the business interacting with people, but the other way around. Businesses have to create a reason for people to connect with them – and this reason needs to be seductive, intriguing and relevant.

One way businesses can do this is by creating a strong brand story, a story which can be told in as many different and engaging ways as possible. This will encourage this story to be retold and shared, creating a powerful word of mouth effect as it's liked and discussed across the web. Let’s take just one example...

I’m sure you’ve seen Compare the Market’s Aleksandr Orlov? That loveable meerkat with the catchphrase ‘Simples!’ currently has nearly 800,000 likes on his Facebook and nearly 50,000 followers on his Twitter. What strikes me is that there is no mention of Compare the Market’s financial products in any of his status updates or tweets, and yet we still associate him with the company. Now as a financial journalist in a former life, I know that trying to make financial products ‘sexy’ is an impossible task – yet Aleksandr manages it with no effort at all.

What I think businesses need to understand is that people will engage with you if you tell a story, develop it and make it relevant to the man on the street. Be creative with your message and your products, offer discounts and special offers for your friends and above all else don’t take yourself too seriously.

So no, I’m not worried about the future for social media for businesses – those who know how to interact with people and tell an engaging story will be the winners in the long run.

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Lily • Years ago

All of these articles have saved me a lot of headaches.