October 28, 2011 Firebelly Marketing

Online Communities: What Consumers Want, What Brands Don’t Deliver

Quickly, right now, think of a few brands that you follow through social media. If you need to open a new tab and check Facebook or Twitter, go ahead. There’s probably at least one brand above the fold in your news feed right now.

What is that brand saying? The top post by a page in my news feed right now is for The Vogue, a theater in Indianapolis that happens to be a mere 500 feet or so from where I’m sitting. Check out their post:

Guess What? We are releasing a handful of tickets today beginning at 1pm. Show has been sold out for 7 weeks, so jump on these tix quick!

[fancyquote]Brands constantly use the flawed thinking that consumers are actually interested in useless dribble.[/fancyquote]Oh Em Jee, just reading that gets me excited, and I really don’t even like what the tickets are for! With that, I know that The Vogue has successfully completed the biggest struggle of social media marketing: understanding what your followers want. It’s something that most businesses are still trying to figure out.

Brands constantly use the flawed thinking that consumers are actually interested in useless dribble. Here’s the hint: you need to figure out the secret formula. The fun facts, random questions, and product advertisements all keep the consumers coming back to the brand and builds the community, but if and only if you sprinkle in some of what they actually want.

Consumers vs. Businesses, what each side thinks the top reasons for social connectivity really are.

According to a survey by IBM, consumers consistently rank discounts and purchases at the top of the list as the reasons they connect with brands through social media. The over 300 business leaders surveyed, however, pushed those two to nearly the bottom of the list. What do the business leaders think is the top reason for connection? “Learn about new products.” Come on, if I were really interested in the new products of every company I like on Facebook, I would also be subscribed to over 400 email newsletters.

Speaking of which, here’s a “fun fact:” consumers also give the same reason for unsubscribing from email lists as they do un-liking a Facebook page and un-following a Twitter account: The information was too frequent, too repetitive, and too irrelevant to what they want. Simple solution: back off of frequent, repetitive, and irrelevant information. Build your community using relevance and use something you can’t have through an email newsletter: conversation.

Not every community and following is the same. Discounts may not be what a specific community needs, but very few people truly say they stay with a page for the community alone. Find the perfect formula and with time and effort they’ll keep them coming back and becoming stronger advocates for the brand. And remember the keywords: with time and effort.

Drop us an email or go to our Facebook if you want some advice or help with your online community. It’s what we specialize in at Firebelly.


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