Brands Should Become Friends on Social Media

This an article that I can extremely relate to since I am part of the digital generation. For my Senior Project, my group and I did a study on how technology can interfere with a students’s academic performance. During our study we found that an overwhelming majority of people ranging from the age of 18-23 prefer to rely on technology, including social media, to communicate with friends.

This is important for brands to keep in mind because they should portray themselves as friends instead of companies on their social media profiles in order to create loyal and unique relationships with their target audience.

Check out the article below by Matt Wilson on Ragan.com about how companies should start humanizing themselves on their social media platforms.

Have a question? Leave a comment! Happy Reading!

Survey: People respond to brand offers when they come from friends

We’ve got to face it: Social media is just a way of life now.
According to a new survey from Performics, 40 percent of people who use a social media site at least once a day prefer to interact with people online rather than in person. About half use phones and email less frequently because of social media.

“I don’t think it’s that people are becoming anti-social, per se,” says Daina Middleton, CEO of Performics, a performance marketing agency. “The tools have really enabled them to just be wired differently, in how they view the world and how they think about things.”

Many of the 2,000 or so respondents have social media expectations of people they know. About 41 percent said they expect people in their social circles to respond to Facebook posts within an hour.

What does that mean for communicators? It means friends and family are still people’s key touch points on social media. One-third of survey respondents said they’re more likely to respond to posts from brands if a friend reposted it, rather than if it just came up in a feed. (Of note: People are more likely to interact on a brand’s fan page than if they see a post in their feeds.)

Should those findings change the way brands present themselves? Maybe.

Participants, not customers

Not long ago, when broadcast messaging dominated how brands spoke to audiences, brands relied on the premise that consumers were uninformed, Middleton says.

“This research reinforces that, clearly, we do not have a problem of uninformed consumers,” she says. “In fact, we like to call them participants. If you understand, as a brand, what motivates people to participate with you … this is what you’re capturing.”

Those participants believe they have the power and the tools to influence brands just as brands influence them, Middleton suggests.

Jonathan Rick, CEO of the digital communications firm Jonathan Rick Group, says lots of brands don’t see things that way. They’re too fixated on quantity, he says.

“They prioritize the number of their followers rather than their level of engagement,” Rick says. “But I’d rather enjoy 1,000 followers who comment on and share my posts than 10,000 followers who scroll past them.”

Relationships

The data show that people on Facebook and Twitter value their friends, which means brands should start acting more like friends, Rick says.

“Brands need to dispense with the promotional lingo and humanize themselves,” he suggests. “As a result, when a post from, say, Dell appears in my news feed, my focus will be on the content, not its origin.”

In response to the question of when Facebook users are most likely to “like” a post from a brand, a wide majority—59 percent—said it’s when they’re already buying the product or patronizing that business. Therefore, a “like” doesn’t signify the start of a relationship. It comes in the middle.

“Only focusing on the beginning of the relationship really is not effective anymore,” Middleton says, “which I think is a real struggle for brands, because often they are organized in silos, where different organizations manage different pieces of the customer’s life cycle, if you will.”

Changing philosophies

A firm like hers can’t reorganize a company from the inside out, Middleton says, but she can advise that company to revise its approach to social media. Usually what Performics does, she says, is help the company develop new governance processes to help identify what resources they need and how to deploy them.

“There’s true value to the bottom line if they recognize this and start to take incremental steps to overcome the barriers,” Middleton says.

Rick says the big brands—the ones with huge online followings such as Coca-Cola, the NFL, or even Lady Gaga—already get that they aren’t speaking to an audience that has a responsibility to them until the brand fulfills its responsibility to the audience.

“In our personal lives, we publish what we want to, whenever the mood strikes,” he says. “In our professional lives, we publish what we need to, when the mood of our audience strikes.”

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