TAKING to social media to spruik products can do brands more damage than good.
Research conducted by UniSA’s Ehrenberg-Bass Marketing Institute shows while consumer brands such as Coca-Cola, Domino’s Pizza and MasterChef Australia have been busily building their following on social media, the level of customer engagement is still extremely low.
This comes as the Australian Association of National Advertisers issued guidelines late last month for brands’ best practice in digital spaces.
According to the association, brands should check their Facebook pages daily and are responsible for content appearing on their walls – no matter who has posted to it.
Dr Karen Nelson-Field, a postdoctoral research fellow at the Ehrenberg-Bass Institute, said brands can run the risk of investing a lot of effort into engaging with customers on social media for very little result.
“The negative effect lies in the wasted marketing dollars trying to get fans to engage and trying to gain incremental sales when we know that firstly, Facebook fans are heavy buyers of the brand, so marketers can’t increase purchase frequency from those who already buy very often, and secondly brand fans are rather unenthusiastic and very rarely interact with the brand after the initial `like’,” Dr Nelson-Field said.
She said at the core of this is the fact customers today are not loyal but rather flit from product to product, making it difficult to engender a relationship on social media.
But social media expert and CEO of Swayve Newsrooms Leila Henderson said there are other ways brands can make the digital space work.
“Facebook gives brands unprecedented access to people’s thoughts, feelings and ideas – it’s an amazing repository for consumer research,” Ms Hendersonsaid.
“A brand that tries to engage with a one-size-fits-all mindset won’t succeed.
“You need creative campaigns and many competitions to get cut-through. It’s a resource-hungry medium.”
Ms Henderson cites the example of charity St Vincent De Paul, which used Facebook to increase its fan base among younger customers, 13-15-year-olds.
Research company Online Circle recently published a list of top Facebook brands and television shows, snackfoods and clothing retail featured heavily in its top 20.
Ms Henderson said it’s no accident these brands – among them Pringles, Underbelly and KFC – featured heavily.
“Facebookers like experiences they can show off to their friends, they like prizes and anything that enhances their lifestyle,” she said.
“So entertainment, sport, food, wine, cosmetics and fashion do well.”
Online Circle senior strategist Lucio Ribeiro, in referring to the firm’s research, noted that a large number of fans doesn’t necessarily equate to a sales boom.
“Brands with a high level of fans tend to have a lower level of engagement as it is difficult to mobilise or activate large volumes of people every month,” Mr Ribeiro said.