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Social Media Marketing Can Get Out of Sync with Consumers

Campaigns should align with customer preferences

Marketers’ excitement over new social media channels is understandable; these platforms have fundamentally changed the way that companies and their customers interact. But a September poll of adult internet users and marketing decision-makers in the US, the UK, France, Germany and Australia conducted by Pitney Bowes Software found that marketers need to be careful to make sure they are not overcommitting to social channels, and, moreover, that their actions on social media are aligned with consumer preferences.

The survey found stark disparities in the concentration of consumers on certain social media networks, compared to the percentage of marketers on those channels. Those making marketing decisions in the five countries in which the poll was conducted have responded to the heavy adoption of Facebook. But in many other cases, the number of marketers on a given platform outpaced the potential customers there.

On Twitter, for instance, 57% of marketers reported using the site compared with 31% of consumers, and 51% of marketers had a presence on Google+ despite the fact that only 21% of consumers used it. Meanwhile, 53% of consumers were on YouTube, but only 41% of marketers had established a presence there.

And comparing between networks, while internet users were more likely to be found on YouTube over Twitter, marketers were more heavily present on the microblog network vs. the digital video channel.

Adding to the need for marketers to approach social maketing somewhat cautiously, consumers have displayed time and again an indifference to—or at worst, annoyance at—marketing messages pushed at them on social media, instead preferring to use such platforms to engage in more conversational interactions. And it should come as no surprise that consumers were predisposed to marketing messages from brands and companies that they had already chosen to “follow” or “like.”

The annoyance rate of consumers who saw ads from brands they followed was 11%, but jumped to 24% for those confronted with social media marketing messages from brands they didn’t follow, showing that tolerance for unsolicited messages was noticeably lower.

With the advent of content marketing, brands also need to be careful about confusing customers when employing Facebook Sponsored Stories and Promoted Tweets. An October survey of US internet users by social and mobile advertising solutions provider MediaBrix found that 57% of those who had seen a Sponsored Story thought it appeared as content in a misleading way, while 45% thought the same about Promoted Tweets.

Even worse, MediaBrix found that 72% of those who felt they had been duped by a Sponsored Story either felt the same way or worse about the brand afterwards; 62% of those feeling mislead by a Promoted Tweet said the same.

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Check out today’s other articles, “Mobile Accelerates the Fast Food Experience” and “In Sweden, Consumers Still Split on Online Holiday Shopping.”

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