Why Would Any Brand Think Social Media Users Are Primarily Interested In Them?

Ever read a piece of research where you think one thing but the researchers and the headlines are suggesting something altogether different? Today's coverage of a social media engagement report from Adobe is a good case. Millions are being spent on social media by brands and yet their content is not being very well engaged with. That's the conclusion in The Drum this morning.

The proof of this is that among 5000 people surveyed across Europe, less than a third said that news is their favourite content on social media and only 18% of people said offers and coupons are their top form of content. Just a tiddly 7% said messages from brands are their favourite form of content on social media.

I don't know about you, but i'm pretty surprised the figures are that high. The question is a little like asking people what they switch the tv on for each evening and being flabbergasted that people want to catch up with the news and watch the latest drama series, rather than watch the ads that slot in between.

With nearly one in five saying their favourite type of content is coupons, I'd actually say that was a pretty high figure. Even the one in fifteen, or 7%, who look forward to branded messages sounds much higher than I would have guessed.

The thing is -- and it's a very obvious thing -- people aren't on social media for the ads. They're not there waiting to hear from brands. They want to find out what friends and colleagues have been up to. Who's having beers, where and with whom? How did the kids get on at the school sports day? Those are the things people wonder about, rather than whether Nike has a new strip out or whether a garden furniture store has a sale on. Everyone loves a bargain, and so you can understand why offers from brands you like enough to follow would be popular. But unsolicited messages from brands that are likely to be attempting to sell something, well, it''s hardly surprising these are not eagerly anticipated.

I have a feeling that most brands probably know this and so try to make their posts entertaining and worthy of engagement, rather than seeing every piece of content as a means to sell. It is unlikely to be big news to these brands that a fan hasn't logged in to see how the brand that makes his or her shoes is getting on but instead wants to catch up with friends.

For these sensible brands I'd wager that nearly one in five being primarily potentially interested in offers and one in fifteen looking out for brand updates as a pretty positive outcome from research. Certainly not a huge disappointment, just as Coca-Cola wouldn't be too disheartened to hear people were more interested in who is cheating on whom in Coronation Street rather than wondering what fizzy drinks might get hawked during the ad break.

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