New research from Tamar, the UK's award-winning social and search agency, shows that consumers are open and hungry to interact with brands in the rapidly evolving social commerce sectors, but want a variety of incentives to engage.
At the same time, Tamar’s Social Media Sectors 2011 report also underlines that privacy is not an issue for the vast majority of people.
Consumers are very clear about the reasons for following or liking a brand – with the majority wanting to find out about discounts (54.4%) and to hear news about new products (50.0%), while a third (33.8%) want to learn more about the company. Around a quarter of respondents (22.1%) are also attracted by sweepstakes and other contests.
Significantly, 36.8% of consumers say they are “a huge fan of the brand and like having a brand affiliation on Facebook/Twitter”.
Obstacles to the growth of social commerce are also highlighted in the survey. For nearly a third of consumers there is no incentive (32.2%) and yet privacy issues only prevent 27.1% of those polled from engaging online, while a similar number prefer to engage with trusted, independent sources (27.3%).
Tamar understands that this social desire is matched in B2B sectors and that companies need to use the appropriate engagement channels for their business development.
Location-based services are rapidly growing in popularity among consumers as social media evolves into social commerce.
Facebook Places has launched this week in Europe. Facebook users will be able to get discounts and special deals in shops, cafes and restaurants by checking in on Facebook Places on their smartphone.
The study finds that while Facebook is the most effective engagement channel for the evolving B2C social commerce sectors, location-based applications (LBS) are growing in popularity, with many consumers ‘checking in’ to either a store, restaurant or cinema, this year.
The current online survey reveals that nearly a third of consumers have used Foursquare (29.4%) with Gowalla check in running at 14.7%. Perhaps not surprisingly, Facebook Places showed strongly at 26.5%, with Yelp at 4.4%. The survey shows that the majority have yet to use LBS apps (54.4%).
The social commerce effect is most visible in consumers’ engagement with brands on Facebook and Twitter. Of the consumers surveyed, 42% had both ‘Liked’ a brand on Facebook and ‘Followed’ a brand on Twitter. Only a minority (17.1%) had done neither.
Facebook credits are not embedded in social commerce yet but people are interacting with commercial brands. Only 5.6% of consumers polled say that they have purchased these credits, now available at physical store pay points, including Tesco. However, consumers are more likely though to post on a brand’s Facebook page, for example a comment on the brand Wall, or uploading a photo or a video. While still a minority at 38.6%, the figures suggest strong engagement at this level.
Tamar’s view is that it is only a matter of time before the credit culture is embraced.
Facebook also proves popular with consumers in ad engagement, with 41.4 % saying that they have clicked on a Facebook ad.
The way in which social media has grown to form an essential part of people’s online lives was underlined by the research as all respondents to the online survey across the 18-65+ age range said they were active in social networks.
This contrasts with Tamar’s 2007 social media sectors study, which showed a narrower range of engagement with two thirds (66 per cent) of 18-35 year olds in the UK actively engaged in social networking and almost two in five (38 per cent) being members of two or more online forums or social networking sites.
On Twitter, 41.4 % of respondents said they interact with a brand either by retweeting, [.]replying or Direct Messaging a brand.
Around a fifth of respondents (18.2%) do not want to engage directly with brands but might do so if the brand was “more human”.
Tanya Goodin, CEO of Tamar, says: “Our survey clearly shows that the vast majority of people do not feel that privacy issues prevent them from engaging with brands but do need incentives.
“We are also seeing mismatches between some brand marketing goals and the needs of clients and consumers. This scatter-gun approach will need to be replaced with coherent strategies this year in B2B and B2C engagement as social commerce really takes off.”
Tamar (tamar.com), the UK's award-winning social and search agency, combines extensive expertise in natural search engine optimisation combined with social media to generate more online sales for businesses. This results-focused delivery of campaigns is achieved through expertise in social media, search, analytics, conversion design and technology. Tamar’s approach is to use its 15 years of online expertise and experience and combine this with clients’ customer intelligence to maximise client revenues. Tamar specialises in working with major financial services, travel, gaming and retail brands. Its extensive, high-profile client base includes The Arcadia Group, B&Q, Domestic & General, Endsleigh, LloydsTSB and Royal Caribbean.