Half of consumers don’t want to be bothered in social networks: global report

Businesses are wasting time and money trying to reach people online without realising many resent big brands invading their social networks, according to findings from a global study initiated by TNS.

TNS’s Digital Life study, which is about how more than 72,000 consumers in 60 countries behave online and why they do what they do, has indicated that 57 percent of people in developed markets do not want to engage with brands via social media – rising to 60 percent in the US and 61 percent in the UK. Instead, misguided digital strategies are generating mountains of digital waste, from friendless Facebook accounts to blogs no one reads. This is being combined with ever-increasing content produced by consumers – the study shows 47 percent of digital consumers now comment about brands online.

The result is huge volumes of noise, which is polluting the digital world and making it harder for brands to be heard – presenting a major challenge for businesses trying to enter into dialogue with consumers online.

“Winning and keeping customers is harder than ever,” said Matthew Froggatt, chief development officer, TNS. He continued, “The online world undoubtedly presents massive opportunities for brands, however it is only through deploying precisely tailored marketing strategies that they will be able to realise this potential. Choosing the wrong channel, or simply adding to the cacophony of online noise, risks alienating potential customers and impacting business growth.”

Being careful

TNS’s Digital Life study asked consumers around the world whether they actually want to engage with brands on social networking websites – either to find out more or to make a purchase.

The research shows brands must harness digital more carefully if they are to use it to their advantage and deepen relationships with customers and prospects. The study also reveals big geographic contrasts which highlight the risks of brands employing a catch-all approach that doesn’t take the needs of different consumers into consideration.

Froggatt said, “The key is to understand your target audience and what they want from your brand – social networks aren’t always the right approach. If consumers in one market don’t want to be talked to, can you use an alternative online method – creating owned digital media platforms, targeted sponsorship or search campaigns – to engage in an appropriate way that will achieve business results, without adding to the digital waste pile?”


TNS’s Digital Life study also sheds vital light on why people do engage with brands online. 46 percent of those motivated to post comments on companies do so for the simple desire to impart advice – with Romanians the most helpful online (55 percent).

Findings showed that more people like to praise than complain online (13 percent vs 10 percent).

However, motivations of online commentators can be self-serving. 61 percent of consumers are driven to engage with brands online by a promotion or special offer.

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