Well, it’s about time! According to the Wall Street Journal, “fans and follower counts are over, social media is not the powerful and persuasive marketing force many companies hoped they would be,” concludes Gallup Inc., which on Monday is releasing a report that examines the subject. Gallup says 62% of the more than 18,000 U.S. consumers it polled said social media had no influence on their buying decisions. Another 30% said it had some influence. U.S. companies spent $5.1 billion on social-media advertising in 2013, but Gallup says “consumers are highly adept at tuning out brand-related Facebook and Twitter content.” (Gallup’s survey was conducted via the Web and mail from December 2012 to January 2013. The survey has a margin of error of plus or minus 1 percentage point.)
According to the Journal “In a study last year, Nielsen Holdings NV found that global consumers trusted ads on television, print, radio, billboards and movie trailers more than social-media ads. Gallup says brands assumed incorrectly that consumers would welcome them into their social lives. Then they delivered a hard sell that turned off many people.
More recently, changes in how Facebook manages users’ news feeds have hindered brands’ ability to reach their fans. Rather than a largely chronological stream, Facebook now manages the news feed to feature items it thinks users will want to see. The result: Brands reached 6.5% of their fans with Facebook posts in March, down from 16% in February 2012, according to EdgeRank Checker, a social-media analytics firm recently acquired by Socialbakers.”
Highlights from the study:
Most consumers aren’t visiting social media sites to engage with brands — they are there to interact with people they know. According to Gallup research, the vast majority of consumers (94%) who use Facebook, Twitter, and other social networking channels do so to connect with family and friends. They are far less interested in learning about companies and/or their products, which implies that many companies have social media strategies in place that may be largely misdirected.
Social media are not the powerful and persuasive marketing force many companies hoped they would be. When Gallup asked more than 18,000 consumers about the influence of social media on their buying decisions, 62% said they had no influence at all. Even among millennials (those born after 1980), whom companies often think of as the core social media audience, 48% said these sites were not a factor in their decision-making.
While many companies correlate the number of fans and followers with their social media success, Gallup
also finds that these metrics can be misleading. Of the consumers who reported “liking” or following a company, 34% still said that social media had no influence on their purchasing behavior, while 53% said they had only some influence.
Companies often believe they can use social media to increase brand awareness and tap into a new customer base. But, as Gallup findings suggest, consumers are highly adept at tuning out brand-related Facebook and Twitter content.
In the end social media is more about hype than actual business results and self appointed experts trying to increase their personal brand value.