Corporate Eye

Brands Still Not Connecting with Consumers on Social Media Sites

social-media-profilesA new study from Knowledge Networks sheds some light on social media site usage, including the nonexistent connection between brands and consumers through social media.  The study reports that 4% or fewer consumers who use social media sites (such as Facebook, Digg, Flickr, and more) on a consistent basis actually seek out information about brands “regularly” on those sites in order to make purchase decisions.  24% or fewer consumers who use social media sites on a regular basis “sometimes” seek out information about brands on those sites to make purchase decisions.

What does this tell us as marketers and brand managers?  First, the secret to connecting with consumers through social media has yet to be found.  However, one thing is fairly certain, traditional advertising on social media sites is not getting the job done — no surprise there.  While consumers don’t mind seeing unobtrusive ads on social sites in order to use those sites for free, those ads are not having much of an impact at all on those consumers.

The missing link remains the elusive “connection” component.  The majority of respondents to the Knowledge Networks poll said they use social media sites to stay connected with friends and family and to connect with new people.  There’s that word “connected” again and again.  Is it surprising that ads which talk at consumers rather than with them (a much more social, and “connected” method) don’t work on social media sites?  That part of the equation is common sense.  The problem is still finding how to create brand experiences (or “connections”) through social media sites that are useful and meaningful to consumers and add value rather than just interrupting  and annoying them.

Let’s put this into perspective though.  The widespread use of social media sites is still in its infancy.  Without a doubt, the products, offerings, and players will change significantly over the course of the next 5 and the next 10 years.  The important thing is for brands not to give up testing ways to connect with consumers through social media.  The likelihood of social media dying a quick death is slim to none.  It’s here to stay.  The challenge is going to be getting executive commitment to a long term strategy of learning to leverage social media for branding and marketing success.  In other words, it all comes down to the money.  What else is new?

Your thoughts?

Image: Flickr

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Susan Gunelius is the author of 10 marketing, social media, branding, copywriting, and technology books, and she is President & CEO of KeySplash Creative, Inc., a marketing communications company. She also owns Women on Business, an award-wining blog for business women. She is a featured columnist for and, and her marketing-related articles have appeared on websites such as,,, and more. She has over 20 years of experience in the marketing field having spent the first decade of her career directing marketing programs for some of the largest companies in the world, including divisions of AT&T and HSBC. Today, her clients include large and small companies around the world and household brands like Citigroup, Cox Communications, Intuit, and more. Susan is frequently interviewed about marketing and branding by television, radio, print, and online media organizations, and she speaks about these topics at events around the world. You can connect with her on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, or Google+.

Hi Susan,

Do you think that sites social hubs sites such as sociast or Zooity may help in brands connecting with consumers?


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