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Is Social Media’s Branding Power Overstated?

Despite the intense focus on social media and measurement in PR and marketing departments, a new and somewhat surprising study from web content management provider Kentico Software downplays social content’s ability to define a brand.

Just under half of customers around the world claim to have recommended a product or service on a social media site, but the Kentico survey implies that home pages are far more important than social media accounts when it comes to establishing a brand’s reputation.

Some results:

What weighs most heavily on brand affinity?

  • 28% word of mouth
  • 25% brand website
  • 18% in-store experience
  • 7% social media

This may seem surprising, but social media campaigns rarely define brands, and very few customers develop an “affinity” for a brand due to its Facebook posts or tweets.

What sort of brand interactions do you prefer?

  • 48% email
  • 19% phone
  • 0% social media

So no one likes to be contacted directly via social media. This is not too surprising, though Facebook apparently did not receive the message

What device do you use to communicate with brands?

  • 56% Computer
  • 10% Mobile

These numbers won’t stay still for long.

What are your biggest irritations when dealing with brands?

  • 45% wait times (in-store, online, on phone)
  • 32% unhelpful reps
  • 9% inferior websites
  • 9% too much email marketing
  • 4% untargeted promotions

The last two findings may be most interesting: a full 69% of participants “expressed an overwhelming eagerness” to allow brands to collect their personal information–as long as it leads to superior service. And 97% said they would forgive brands for mistakes as long as they responded quickly with an apology and/or an explanation.

What do we take from this? The recommendations of friends and family are the strongest branding tools, but customers want brands to have great websites and, most importantly, great customer service. They like email marketing, but not too much of it–and it has to be targeted. And they really hate it when brands reach out to them directly, but they expect to have their concerns/complaints addressed as soon as they’re submitted (no patience here). And despite all the hooting and hollering about Big Brother, they don’t really care about privacy as long as the service is good.

So is it time to tell clients to stop obsessing over Facebook status updates?

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