Is social media living up to all the hype, or is it leaving the public with a nasty over processed after-taste? NEMS provides some clues.

Spam fritters with friends at the Tupperware party, thought Geoff when the brief to investigate the public’s attitudes towards social media marketing thumped on to his desk. Oh dear.

To the rest of us, spam is at best irritating and, if wasn’t for the sad few caught up by Nigerian bank fraud, can be utterly hilarious in its ineptitude. No more so than in social media. Where the ‘youthful’ commercial enthusiasm for that personal relationship with ‘friends’-customers or clients to those over 50- has reached a near fever pitch of activity. And strangely, for the level of investment in time and money, it’s a media marketplace with very little authoritative audience research. Lots of pockets of data, but, scant detail when it comes to overall attitudes to commercial activity. 

The first surprise of many to be thrown up in the representative sample of one thousand interviews is the relatively low weekly audience reach of social: 54% of all adults- around the same as commercial radio. Even Millennials top out at 71%. But, interesting though that may be, as social evangelists (Geoff’s thinking Billy Graham selling Tupperware) would have it, it’s missing the point that individuals have chosen to engage with your brand and enthusiastically share it with others. 

So, how special is that shared relationship with like-minded, wide eyed, friends following a product or retailer? Well, for starters only 2% are motivated by friends and family following the same product or retailer. On average they’re each following just over five retailers and seven products – scarily close to pre-digital first choice brand preference research. Of the eagerly awaited notifications, sadly, of the daily average of just over 3, 44% go unread.

Could that be down to the fact that overwhelmingly the most popular reason to follow a product or brand is a less than ‘social’ desire to save money rather than to enjoy the musings of the marketing department?

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