Customers are Punishing Companies That Annoy Them on Social Media

That’s the strongly worded title of a new study from Vanson Bourne on what your customers think of business’ attempts to connect with them via Social Media. In my experience, the people in charge of marketing for businesses here in southern Oregon don’t set out to “annoy” their potential customers. But because of the nature of the medium, their social media efforts can have that affect.

65% of the shoppers in this survey said they would stop buying from a company that they find annoying on social media. How do you make sure your messages aren’t annoying? Effective social media marketing is hard work. Don’t make the effort only to be “punished” by the very people you are trying to reach.

Why Are They There?

The first thing to do is remember why people are on sites like Facebook, Twitter, and Google+. Think about how you use these sites when you are there without your marketing hat on. Do you ever login to Facebook thinking, “I hope a company has posted a message here trying to sell me something!” I doubt that anyone has ever thought that, so be very mindful of that when you are reaching out to your potential customers via Social Media.

  1. Don’t post too often. Less is more.
  2. Don’t post blatant sales messages – unless that message includes a significant discount.
  3. Do be seen as a resource. Solve problems. Tout good causes. Recommend the business next door.
  4. Do ask questions of your customers on what they would like you to do better. And don’t get defensive when you get feedback you may not like.
  5. Do answer questions when your customers reach out to you.

What Do They Want?

There is good news in this report. The same study found that these shoppers say that they like hearing about your business – from their friends. 68% said that they had researched a company that had been recommended to them by a friend online, and this research led to a purchase about a ¼ of the time. Those are great numbers! But what does that mean for a business in Medford?

  1. It means that you need to make it easier for your best customers to brag about you online. Bonus points if you make it lucrative for them too – even if in very small ways.
  2. It means that you may need to take the time to identify who your best customers are. Do you know them? Have you told them how much their opinion means to their friends – and the success of your business?
  3. It probably means that you need to give them info to share. They probably don’t know your business well enough to know to announce your anniversary sale, or your Cyber Monday specials. But hopefully they would pass this info along to their friends if you made it available to them in a way that didn’t seem “annoying” to them.

Where Are They?

In the last interesting nugget from this survey, customers said that they are most open to company messages on Facebook and YouTube, while businesses most often use Facebook and Twitter. Oops. You should focus your efforts where your customers are open to them. While that may be Facebook and Twitter for your business; this study shows that YouTube is an underutilized opportunity. For your particular business, the better place to be may also be LinkedIn, Pinterest, or Google+. The point here is to make sure that your efforts give your business the best chance of success, even if that strategy is different than what works for the business next door or mentioned in the business section of the Mail Tribune.

What Do You Do Next?

Use the data found here to check in on your strategy. Keep doing what is working, and consider a course correction on the parts that haven’t. Or launch the things that would help that you haven’t started on yet. And that’s where we can help. Our marketing consultants are available to you free of charge to help in the planning of your strategy. Leverage our talent, training, and research to ensure your business has the best chance to succeed as you roll forward into 2013.

Greg Thompson
Digital Manager
gthompson@mailtribune.com

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