by Steve Mossop
As published in the Spring edition of Marketline magazine, the BCAMA publication.
How many times have you been in a boardroom and had someone ask, “We have social media and mobile interactions with our brand – but what is the impact of this on our brand?”
The typical response has been “Well, we have x Facebook likes, x Twitter mentions and x mobile clicks on our website, or other behavioural counts, clicks, traffic, etc”¦” The sad truth is that the digital community has had difficulty in trying to provide answers about the ROI of social media. We all inherently believe we should be doing it, and doing it more, but as marketers, we have trouble with proving the “why”.
At Insights West, we launched a cool new research tool last fall that we call Brand Digital Insights, which combines corporate brand reputation, advertising recall and consumer digital interactions with a brand into a single research product. Until now, market research companies’ approaches in these areas have been isolated. For decades, researchers have been tracking traditional media campaigns (i.e., TV spots) independently, usually via traditional methods of aided recall of the 30-second spot. Brand equity and image or corporate reputation tracking metrics are also well established, but often have poor linkages to ad tracking. On the social media side, very few marketing research companies have even studied the impact or launched media tools that evaluate the influence of Facebook, Twitter, and mobile interactions on brand. Yet with digital, mobile, and social media now forming an integral part of any marketing mix, it has become all the more critical to link the three disciplines to understand how they all work together. Marketers need to see the whole picture.
For our Brand Digital Insights tool, we conducted over 13,000 interviews, so far assessing nearly 70 brands in the Western Canadian marketplace on 11 different corporate dimensions, including an overall brand score. We then asked how people were interacting with those brands on a digital level – whether at the most basic level of visitation and interaction on a website, or at the higher end of the digital interaction foodchain: tweeting about a brand, interactions on Facebook and other social media. Finally, we also measured the new holy grail of interacting with your brand digitally: experiences with your brand on mobile devices.
Despite all the hype associated with social media – the level of digital engagement with brands is surprisingly low. Out of 13,000 interviews done for the 70 brands we’ve covered, we found that an average of only 2% of consumers have tweeted about a particular brand, 5% have interacted with that brand on Facebook, and 6% have interacted with that brand via a mobile device. Ever!
But even though interactions are small, the impact of digital engagement on brand is significant. Double! Yes, brand reputation scores (the 8s,9s and 10s on a 10-point scale) among those who are highly engaged with your brand on a digital level are more than double those who have low digital interactions with your brand.
But it doesn’t end there. The scarier finding is that conversely, negative scores are higher among those who are digitally engaged. If we look at the brand “haters” – those who rate a brand either a 1 or a 2 on the brand scores – the digitally engaged are also more than twice as likely to rate you poorly than those not engaged.
Digitally engaged consumers either love you or hate you. And they are vocal.
So, the next time you are in a boardroom and you are asked “What is the impact of social media engagement on our brand?”, make sure you pull out the graphs and charts from Insights West to back you up and to provide the answer: “Significant!”