Everybody likes being “liked” but a new study suggests those clicks aren’t all they’re cracked up to be: When it comes to engaging with today’s online audience, it’s not how much your content is shared, but rather, how deeply people connect with it.
The study, conducted by Social@Ogilvy and SurveyMonkey, surveyed 5,000 users of social media and found that an impressive 84% had “liked” or followed a brand, product or service and 58% had shared an opinion about a brand with others.
The problem is that such social sharing is a poor measure of marketing success:
We found that people had been using likes as a measure online, says Bennett Porter, vice president of marketing at SurveyMonkey. But that’s been the only measure and it’s not that accurate or deep.
In search of more accurate insights, the study compared the intentions and activities of social sharers, i.e., the 58% of users noted above who share brand experiences, and true brand advocates, i.e., the much smaller cohort (19%) who self-identify as being extremely likely to recommend brands. Among the differences:
- Brand advocates are intrinsically more active followers: two-thirds (66%) follow brands on a regular basis, compared to only half of sharers (52%)
- Almost half of brand advocates (46%) believe a brand’s reputation is important, compared to only 36% of sharers
- 59% of brand advocates see their networks regularly mention brands and products vs. 47% of sharers
- 45% say they feel better about themselves after using a brand vs. 35% of sharers
Such loyalty can’t be bought; it must be earned. Instead of focusing on easily garnered “likes,” followers and other vanity metrics, successful brands use the following best practices to create relevant content, generate trust and foster the sorts of connections that promote brand advocacy:
- Create moments of truth: Connect with the right audience, in the right place, at the right time
- Inspire engagement: Use relevant storytelling that flows across platforms and markets, in real-time
- Measure what matters: Focus on harder business metrics, such as leads, sales, performance, loyalty
- Pinpoint the best prospects: Move from broad demographics to using behavior, interests and friendships
- Foster bonds that support brand advocacy: Move from community management to customer engagement
The idea is to move from producing content for content’s sake to providing content that fosters genuine connections, encouraging “likers” and lurkers to become actual brand-loving advocates. As Thomas Crampton, Global Managing Director, Social@Ogilvy, puts it:
Companies need to move beyond collecting likes and retweets with meaningless content. Through genuine interaction and content designed to connect with true advocates, companies can drive forward their brand, business and reputation in ways not possible before this era of social media.