Online brands get measure of digital natives

Brands wishing to take their social media strategies a stage further must tailor their approach towards hardcore advocates – and make transactional websites easier to reach – according to research seen exclusively by Marketing Week.

Social media is not just about catching up with friends or watching amusing videos online. It’s a serious marketing tool for businesses with more than 50% of people on sites such as Facebook and Twitter interacting with brands by “liking” them or visiting a brand’s profile page, according to Carat.

The media agency identified these people as “brand engagers” after speaking to 11,000 British consumers aged between 15 and 75 to determine their value to marketers, showing the results exclusively to Marketing Week.

These brand engagers claim to be more passionate about social networking than they are about other activities such as shopping, going clubbing or meeting friends at the pub. And while this is good news for brands, a Facebook page or Twitter feed is one of the trickiest things for marketers to get right, according to Carat head of planning, Richard Morris.

“The fact that social networking has a high level of passion is interesting but how do you facilitate that rather than interrupt it?” asks Morris.

“There is a level of intrusion and the difficulty for brands is that they are not only competing with each other but, more importantly, with the people having the conversations [about them], sharing photos and enjoying each others’ company.”

About 20% of brand engagers are receptive to advertising, Carat’s research reveals, saying they are happy to receive online ads based on their social media profiles. This figure might appear underwhelming to some but the research indicates that this group is nearly two-and-a-half times more likely to be receptive to such ads than their counterparts. “These consumers are receptive to the right messages,” Morris argues.

Doug Cook
Brand manager, Bulmers and Jacques premium ciders, Heineken UK

We are fairly new to social media. This year we’ve used it to bring our experiential activity to life. There has been a little bit of getting our house in order and making sure we have these channels available, updated and relevant.

We built this year’s plan for Jacques around social media because it felt like the most effective way to engage an audience on a relatively limited budget.

With Jacques, the challenge is telling people about it – that it is cider made from orchard fruits, such as peaches, apples and cherries. There are lots of messages that were difficult to get across in standard mass communications.

We took over the unofficial Facebook page… and within a month we had 10,500 members

The plan was reliant on Facebook in particular because we found people were more likely to use it to interact with us. It is vital for Jacques at the moment as we try to build awareness of what this brand is about.

We had partnerships with Glamour, Grazia and OK! magazines to direct people to the page. The main reason for doing that was to invite people to the Jacques townhouse, our flagship brand experience that ran in London for ten days in July and August.

We took over the unofficial Facebook page in July when there were about 4,500 members, and within a month we had 10,500 members. The group is 82% female. Half of the total users on the site are 25- to 34-year-old women and 24% of our users are 18- to 24-year-old women. Given that our target is 18- to 34-year-old females, to have almost 75% of our users within that is great. It also matches the profile of the brand engagers in the research.

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