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November 23, 2012

Survey reveals disconnect between businesses and consumers on social media

A new global survey commissioned by Pitney Bowes Software reveals that UK firms plan to spend almost half their marketing budgets (47%) on social media in 2013.

Yet the research also finds that only 26% of consumers globally use social networks to follow and interact with companies, and 65% would stop using a company if its social media activity annoyed them.

Marketers are at risk of inadvertently turning potential customers into "brand blockers", says the report.

The independent study, conducted by Vanson Bourne, has found that consumers tend to follow friends' recommendations of brands on social networking sites, while unsolicited marketing is viewed poorly.

Consumers are most interested in discount or money-saving vouchers, new products and services and upcoming sales and events, according to the research. Yet these are bottom of the list for marketers, mentioned by fewer than one in ten of those surveyed. Instead, marketers rate newsletters and customer satisfaction surveys – which were least interesting to consumers.

"This research is fascinating because it reveals a clear disconnect between the effort marketers are putting into social media and the desire among consumers to engage," says Kieran Kilmartin, marketing director, EMEA & India, Pitney Bowes Software.

"Even well-intentioned marketers that persist with old-school 'broadcast' marketing models risk inadvertently turning potential brand ambassadors off, or at worst, triggering them to disengage completely and ultimately become a brand blocker."

Despite these challenges, UK marketers are among the most confident globally when it comes to social media, with 80% saying their campaigns are effective and 62% claiming that they can establish an impact on profitability.