Smoking Gun MD Rick Guttridge: “Social media engagement is pointless in Britain???


The UK has the lowest level of online interaction between consumers and brands in the world. That’s mainly because people don’t want to respond. So, if nobody’s listening anyway, is there any point in trying to strike up a conversation?
Well, yes. That’s despite the fact that in a recent headline-making survey by TNS, in which 72,000 global internet users were quizzed, Britons ranked bottom in terms of openness to web marketing. Worse yet, just 20 per cent of our country’s population thinks social networks are good places to buy products, which equals half the global average.
But if 61 per cent of Britons don’t want to engage with brands on social media, that means 39 per cent do. And, given the fact PC security firm Symantec reported earlier this year that mistakes on social media had cost companies $4.3million in the previous 12 months in litigation, damaged reputations, and leaked secrets, it’s imperative online interaction is done effectively, has been well targeted, and expertly managed so as not to waste time.
According to a survey by Socialbakers 95 per cent of all questions posed to brands via Facebook do not receive a response. As such you have to wonder how many members of the public that aren’t interested in engaging via social media would be if the companies on the other end played their parts more effectively. Still, speculation to one side, let’s stick with the statistics.
Facebook is expected to generate over $2billion in revenue from advertising alone in 2012. Google’s looking at $16.5billion from the same income source, while Twitter should bring in a respectable $234million. So are brands throwing money into a bottomless pit of an idea they’re yet to find out is really just a pipe dream? Or do they know something the facts bely?
Of course it’s laughable to suggest marketing and advertising departments in 2011, informed as they are, would opt to invest substantially in unproven methods. Clearly then there’s substance to the theory, meaning social media marketing is about understanding a target market comprehensively, learning consumer likes and dislikes, and becoming familiar with people’s habits.
Those that read our guides on ‘How to effectively manage an online community’ and ‘How to create an effective social media policy’ will already know how important this early research is. And everybody needs to be clear on the fact that, despite the seemingly disinterested British majority, doing nothing social-media wise is no longer an acceptable option.
Just look at the criticism recently fired at Waitrose after the supermarket failed to quickly respond to a customer who complained online that her disabled daughter had been called an animal by another shopper. The situation has now calmed, and official statements have been issued. But still, it’s an unnecessary mistake I’m amazed still gets made so frequently, given how long professionals have been preaching the significance of best social media practice already. As such here’s hoping the relevant brands start to pick up on the idea soon.