Only a small window of opportunity for brands on social media


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Even in the modern world, marketing is still about reaching out to a lot of people. Now that the impact of traditional media seems to erode, marketers dream about thousands or even millions of fans and followers on social media. Based upon our latest “Social Media around the World” report, I have my doubts if all brands will succeed in this ambition.

Can you be one of those 5 brands?

The facts are that about half of consumers connect with brands on social media. So, consumers are very open towards companies. Over the years, we have seen a trend in which consumers cut down on the number of brands that they actively follow. The ‘defriending’ trend was a major hype a few years ago; the same evolution took place with brands.

Our latest research shows that an average consumer is linked to 11 brands on social media. 7 brands are followed in an active way and people are engaging with about 5 brands. So in order to reach consumers on social media, the challenge is to be one of the 11 brands the average consumer follows. When you want to have an engaging relationship, you need to be one of the 5 brands people interact with. Knowing that there are a large number of strong brands out there (the usual suspects of course: Coca Cola, Apple, Disney…), this leaves a small window of opportunity for the other companies out there. These results show that even if people follow your page, there is only a small chance they will notice your content.

Strategies to be one of those brands

These figures do not imply that brands should stay away from social; they only demonstrate it will become increasingly difficult to become successful in social compared to a few years ago. I see three possible strategies for companies to deal with this challenge. In my opinion, a combination of both strategies may be the best approach for the majority of brands

1. Social advertising

I think Facebook will make more money through companies paying to get their stories higher in the timeline of their fans than through their traditional banner ads. As a brand, you are not only competing with other brands for the attention of the consumer, you are actually competing with the consumer’s friends. This makes it a difficult battle. Many companies will pay Facebook in order to improve their odds of getting that attention.

2. Unique and valuable content

If you promote your content and you want the attention of fans and followers, the quality of the content is key. From our research, we know all too well what consumers expect from brands. They want product information, promotions and free stuff. Basically, they want content and they want to make money. Think of creative ways to give them what they want, to stand out compared to other brands.

3. Community building with core target group

A last strategic axis to consider is actively building an involved community of core users. Our research shows that consumers really want to be involved with brands they like. Companies giving fans the opportunity to improve products or help them brainstorm about future strategies, is what gets these fans involved. Once the involvement is there, the relationship evolves from functional to emotional. In turn, this improves your chances of becoming one of the 5 brands people interact with. It’s pretty simple: it’s about asking them stuff instead of telling them stuff.

I would love to hear your thoughts on these ideas. What should brands do to grab the small window of opportunity that’s available?

More details on our study can be found in this PowerPoint report:

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Steven Van Belleghem
Steven Van Belleghem is inspirator at B-Conversational. He is an inspirator, a coach and gives strategic advice to help companies better understand the world of conversations, social media and digital marketing. In 2010, he published his first book The Conversation Manager, which became a management literature bestseller and was awarded with the Marketing Literature Prize. In 2012, The Conversation Company was published. Steven is also part time Marketing Professor at the Vlerick Management School. He is a former managing partner of the innovative research agency InSites Consulting.


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