This just in: 50 percent of all social media campaigns go unnoticed. They fall on deaf ears. Consumers don’t give a damn. And brands are wasting time and money. In large part because they don’t know how to listen to consumers or deliver content that matters to them.
At least that’s according to the recent TNS Digital Life 2012 Report. The study interviewed 72,000 people from 60 countries and discovered that consumers, particularly those in the US and UK, are pretty cynical. In those two countries 60 and 61 percent of consumers have no interest in engaging with brands via social media.
Are you surprised? I’m not. In fact, we probably don’t need a study from TNS to tell us this. Look how much mediocrity is out there under the guise of “brand journalism,” or “owned content.” Much of it might feel good to its creators, but it’s a yawn inducer for customers and prospects. The fact that anyone with a laptop and Internet access can be a content creator simply means we have “mountains of digital waste” cluttering a landscape populated by friendless Facebook accounts and blogs no one reads.
While some marketers are getting it right, most appear to be missing an opportunity. Consider that almost half of all consumers willingly comment about brands on review sites – not to complain or praise mind you, but to share experiences and help others. So they’re using social media to engage. And they’re talking about brands. They just don’t want to have those conversations with the brand itself.
Ironically, when it comes to making purchase decisions, consumers rely as much or more on a brand’s content than they do on peer recommendations. They just want it on their terms and in a relevant context.
Let’s recap. Consumers want brand information and use it to make decisions. They willingly take the time to engage online, albeit for the benefit of each other. And too many brands, at least according to this study, can’t find a way to engage.
Why? TNS suggests inefficient targeting.
My conclusion would be a lack of creativity — a shortage of truly interesting, entertaining and useful ideas. Daily posts on Facebook – polls, questions, promotional offers (though the latter tends to work) – might cut it with a select group of already engaged fans. But will they hold their attention long term? Or delight them on a regular basis. Or succeed in attracting new customers?
I’m a huge fan of earned attention. And owning content. And being in the publishing business. But the one downside of everyone and anyone — and that includes brands and companies — being a content creator is that just like cable television, the good stuff becomes a smaller and smaller percentage of all that’s out there.
We’ve all seen, and hopefully created, stuff that’s good. It might be an event that lasts a day. Or extends for a month. It could be a price promotion. Or a new product launch. A single app. Or an ongoing story. Even a Facebook page. When social content is great, when there’s actually an idea to capture our imaginations, when there’s an execution to delight us, we want to engage.
Social media may have changed everything. But not the need for new, interesting, useful, relevant, and well-designed ideas. Let’s make more of those.