Coupons and Trusted Friends Drive Users' Social Media Brand Engagement

By Neil Glassman Comment

A new survey of 15,000 Americans and Canadians conducted by Empathica suggests consumers show preference to interacting with brands that offer coupons and promotions via social media outlets and the brands’ online presence. It also indicated that one in three respondents followed through with a friend’s recommendation received through a social media outlet like Facebook or Twitter.

Empathica, provider of Customer Experience Management (CEM) solutions announced these findings as part of its latest Empathica Consumer Insights research of consumers online habits and social media usage.

The study revealed that consumers were very willing to follow brands, though most reported doing so to find coupons or deals. 60% of consumers indicated they follow at least one brand via a social network like Facebook or Twitter. 40% reported doing so in order to search for coupons or promotions while 30% cited the desire to browse for additional information.

While couponing and promotion hunting is a primary driver of social behavior, the survey also found this habit was driving overall online behavior as well. 26% also say they are specifically seeking more coupons online.

“The challenge for companies is to identify the triggers that make consumers want to follow their brand, further engage with them and keep them top-of-mind,” said Gary Edwards, PhD., Empathica EVP of Client Services.

According to Edwards, while many companies are adopting social media strategies, most have yet to tap the opportunities to go beyond social media adoption and engage consumers as active brand advocates. “Many companies are still finding this level of engagement and nurturing tremendously challenging today,” Edwards said.

One in Three Consumers Recently Followed-Through with a Recommendation Made Via Social Media

Trust in social recommendations also appears to be increasing. The survey indicated that one in three respondents followed through with a friends recommendation received through a social media outlet like Facebook or Twitter. Americans appear to be more likely to make a recommendation through a social networking site than Canadians. 25% of Americans and 17% of Canadians said they had recommended a brand, product or service to a friend via social media within the last three months.

This difference could be explained by Americans’ greater willingness to follow brands on social media networks, noted Edwards. Americans are almost twice as likely to follow 10 or more brands in social outlets than Canadians are. In fact, almost half of the Canadians polled didn’t follow any brands at all.

“There is an apparent disparity between how American and Canadian consumers are using social media sites to engage with brands,” added Edwards. “We see that consumers are willing to make that connection with a brand online, even go as far as to make recommendations via social networks, so brands need to make it easier for them to do so.”

Empathica’s brand recommendation application, GoRecommend, enables brand advocates to share brand experiences with their friends on Facebook, Twitter and email. After a customer completes an Empathica retail experience survey, the GoRecommend engine prompts those who indicated a high intent to recommend their experience, to share that recommendation with friends, family and coworkers on social networks. The location-specific recommendation can be posted on the consumer’s Facebook profile page, Twitter page or in a personal email.

“Social media outlets offer numerous opportunities for companies to further promote and encourage brand engagement, taking it past an in-store experience to further validate their commitment to the customer,” Edwards concluded.