Discounts Drive Users to Engage With Brands on Social Networks

As brands scramble to define themselves on social networks and connect with their customers, a new survey indicates that what consumers want from brands in this new engagement model is some old fashioned marketing: Good deals and customer service.

The results of Razorfish’s annual survey of 1,000 “connected consumers” was recently released, and it contains some interesting data. The sample group was about 50/50 male/female and the respondents all live in ten major U.S. cities and cover four major age groups:

Based on previous Razorfish consumer research, we have found that these “connected consumers” roughly mirror the U.S. population with broadband access. According to the Pew Internet & American Life Project, about 63% of all Americans today have a high-speed Internet connection, up from only 55% in 2008. This translates to roughly 200 million people, based on a July 2009 population estimate from the CIA World Factbook (total population 307,212,123, July 2009 estimate).

The survey found that the primary reason for “friending” a brand on Facebook or MySpace is for access to exclusive deals and discounts:

More than 25% said they followed a brand on Twitter:

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And 43% of those who follow brands on Twitter do so because of exclusive discounts or offers. That trumps being a current customer (24%), interesting/entertaining content (23%), and customer service/support (4%):

Following a brand on Twitter usually keeps it top of mind when making a future purchase decision:

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The report references Starbucks, the most popular brand on Facebook (by virtue of a promo that offered coupons for free ice cream and pastry). Whole Foods is the leading brand on Twitter, with more than 1.5 million followers. It gained its huge following by offering shopping tips and weekly specials.

Comcast has a great reputation for leveraging Twitter as a CRM tool thanks to the fabled efforts of Frank Eliason, Senior Director of Comcast National Customer Service. Virgin America and Zappos have also received high marks for using Twitter for customer realtions.

The takeaway:

Consumers are obviously very willing to engage with brands via social media. As social networks grow and attract more users, this will continue to be the case and undoubtedly gain more traction.

Brand marketers themselves need to become more engaged and give their friends and followers special offers — pushing out content and hoping consumers hop on the bandwagon isn’t nearly as effective. As social networks become more advanced and brands figure out how to leverage them, there will be many interesting new opportunities for marketing interaction.

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Got a Tweet to Spare? It Could Help Your Favorite Charity

Social media is all about engaging people and facilitating conversation.

The global nature of that communication is a very powerful platform for generating awareness and spreading the word about causes and issues.

Charities can really benefit from an active social media presence. Social networks are a boon for fundraising, as evidenced by several recent campaigns:

  • Using the #BeatCancer meme, a combined Twitter/Facebook effort helped raise $70,000 for cancer organizations.
  • FarmVille, the popular Facebook game (over 56 million members play each month), sold a virtual crop of sweet potato seeds and raised almost $500k for feeding poor children in Haiti.
  • TwitCause, service built on top of Twitter, used tweets to promote a diabetes research walk and to support Breast Cancer Awareness Month. And Haagen-Dazs has pledged a $1 donation for each #HelpHoneyBees tweet from November 5-11 to raise awareness about the worldwide collapse of honeybee colonies.
  • SocialVibe, which develops charity-focused sites and social media applications, has launched a Halloween trick-or-treat program called Click 4 Good geared toward Twitter, Facebook,  and MySpace users.
  • Room to Read partnered with Twitter to raise money for African and Asian schools and libraries by selling custom wines from Crushpad.
  • Facebook has enabled its members to buy virtual gifts to benefit various nonprofit groups.
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Even during this recession, when overall donations to charitable groups are down, social networking campaigns have helped replenish nonprofit coffers.

Methods for leveraging social media are still evolving — nonprofits need to tread lightly in order not to “over message”. But its advantages for getting the word out about good causes means that more charities should, and undoubtedly will, jump in and embrace the medium for doing good works.

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