55 Percent of Consumers Don’t See the Point of ‘Friending’ a Brand


Here’s an interesting one we missed from last week: consumers (especially those in Western countries) don’t really see the benefits of “friending” your client’s brand on social.

The results of a survey performed by WPP agency Geometry Global mostly serve to reinforce what we already know: trade blog listicles aside, people don’t follow brands for witty Twitter commentary. They want free stuff.

Now’s the time to mention the big E word: engagement.

Across the world, 40 percent of respondents said they don’t see the point of following brands. That number jumped to 55 in the U.S. and 63 in the U.K., where people are more inherently cynical.

Here’s what the 9,000 customers in 15 countries who responded to the survey do want:

  • Sharing of “other users’ brand or product experiences”
  • Geo-targeted ads/promos
  • Customer service
  • Responses to general complaints

Essentially, they want brands’ social accounts to help them make smarter purchasing decisions. It’s worth noting, though, that the number of respondents who said “yes” to each of the points above was either below or just above 50 percent. For example, only 37 percent said they want brands to “respond to their comments and feedback, whether positive or negative.”

So most people will only see these messages when other users or sites like Mashable share them. And in that case, the reason for sharing is often the poor quality of the messages themselves. It’s a Catch-22.

We read this as advice to community managers to be more active. By interacting with people beyond simply favoriting their comments or responding with a “thanks!”, you’ll make them at least feel like they’re getting some sort of service out of the (minimal) time investment.

Geometry’s European CSO told The Wall Street Journal:

“The rejection is about brands using social as if they were my friends in the typical way that Facebook users would use .”

And, as famous “weird Twitter” semi-troll Jon Hendren — aka @fart — told Digiday in January:

“Very few folks interact with a brand just because it’s there.

Nobody is impressed by a company’s water-treading, boilerplate bullshit. Do something interesting, c’mon.”

@PatrickCoffee patrick.coffee@adweek.com Patrick Coffee is a senior editor for Adweek.