One of the most important things a brand can do is understand its target consumer, and social media provides rich data for customer profiles. A new study commissioned by digital marketing firm 140 Proof and digital think tank IPG Media suggests that not only is the data readily available, it evolves over time.
Indeed, consumers show interest in connecting with brands online. Nearly 60 percent of them are willing to like or follow a brand on social media. However, people like to keep their social profiles well-siloed and use different networks for different interests. In fact, the study indicated that more than half of all social media users are on more than four different networks; 23 percent use seven or more.
Matt Rosenberg, SVP of marketing for 140 Proof, says juggling multiple social networks makes sense. While a mega-network like Facebook seems like a general interest platform, as new networks develop, social media platforms are becoming more specialized.
“Instagram is the network based on photography and Snapchat is the network based on photography you might be embarrassed by,” he says. “Pinterest is turning out to be a remarkable platform for interacting with brands and products and aspirations of the kind of lifestyle that you want to lead.”
The study indicates that people use what is referred to as “social hygiene” to manage their multiple profiles. This practice includes pruning and tuning their social profiles to reflect evolving interests. Brands who don’t develop real connections often get caught in the cycle of social hygiene.
Rosenberg says that marketers made the fatal mistake of thinking social profiles were stagnant, and focused too much on gaining more fans. However, according to the study, 61 percent of people will unfollow brands because the content is no longer relevant, they no longer purchase from the brand or because the connection was tenuous to begin with.
“Connections without substance don’t really add up to much,” Rosenberg says.
The solution is to understand that consumers want to connect with brands based on various interests. The marketers who know how to turn social data into customer interest profiles will fare best when it comes to maintaining strong social connections with consumers. Rosenberg says it’s time for brands to stop trying to act like people on social media. He says that when people like brands on social media, it’s like a badge.
“Just as we, in real life, manage our relationships and keep the people who are most important and interesting to us in our circle — we manage in the brands we like, and we manage out the ones that communicate awkwardly,” he says.