People use social networks to connect with friends and family, sometimes brands by briansolis

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									People use social networks to connect with
friends and family, sometimes brands
By Brian Solis, industry-leading blogger at BrianSolis.com and principal of research firm
Altimeter Group, Author of the highly acclaimed books on social business The End of Business
as Usual and Engage!




I have to be honest, the headline is a bit hypocritical. I spend most of my time helping businesses
embrace the opportunity to understand customer needs and engage with them in ways that they
appreciate and value. Contrary to popular belief however, everyday consumers aren’t flocking to
social media to build relationships with their favorite brands or local businesses. The truth is that
consumers are using the likes of Twitter, Facebook, Google Plus, et al. to connect with friends and
family. But, that’s not all. People also follow those who help them better understand the world around
them, share their interests, or introduce moments of desired distractions.

In early 2011, IBM conducted a survey of roughly 1,000 consumers for its annual CRM Study. One
of the questions asked of participants sought to shed light to the subject of why consumers were
active on social networks. At the top of the list with 70%, no surprise, was the aim of connecting with
family and friends. In second with 49%, consumers revealed that they were looking to stay
connected to relevant news and information. Just behind with 46%, consumers expressed the desire
for entertainment. And, last but certainly not least, 42% wished to share reviews of company or
product experiences.




(cc) Brian Solis, www.briansolis.com - Twitter, @briansolis
So where does that leave businesses? After all, the original Social Media Manifesto celebrated the
opportunity that would eventually unite organizations and customers in a new generation of oneness,
co-creation and innovation. How can organizations build a relationship with people if their primary
use for social networks is to connect to the people they already know or wish they knew?

The good news is that consumers do wish to connect with businesses, just not in the way we might
have originally envisioned. According to the same study 23% used social networks to interact with
brands. Yes, consumers are connecting with brands, but it’s not as pervasive as we assume. To
improve the number of connections and also increase retention, we must learn the reasons for why
consumers connect with businesses, what they expect, and how to captivate their attention now and
over time.

As consumer use of social media matures, their expectations grow. Your challenge is whether or not
your organization can not only meet their needs, but anticipate and exceed them. This is the time to
stop looking at social media as merely media in social channels and to start getting to know
customers and their priorities and designing programs and a supporting infrastructure that socializes
customer and employee facing roles, departments, and functions.

In August 2011, Lab42 surveyed Twitter users about their habits driving brand engagement. Believe
it or not, 11% claimed that connecting with brands was the only reason they initially used Twitter.
What does that tell us? People needed resolution or attention and Twitter represented the most
logical choice for immediate satisfaction. On the other hand 10.6% stated that they do not follow any
brands at all. Not all is bleak however. The study does indeed bring good tidings for worthy
businesses.

30.6% of consumers follow 1-5 brands
19.6% follow 6-10
17.8% follow 11-20
9.8% follow an astounding 31-50

Depending on how you view these numbers, the glass is either half full or half empty. I believe that
the state of the glass is determined by the actions surrounding it. For example, are we pouring or



(cc) Brian Solis, www.briansolis.com - Twitter, @briansolis
drinking from the glass? As Twitter is still growing, I see the glass is half full. Therefore, the time to
invest in a sincere social media program that meets the needs of the various roles consumers may
play in your business.

Theses roles include:

- Customer
- Prospect
- Advocate
- Detractor
- Co-creator
- Employee

The studies above reflect that consumer engagement is only just beginning. Consumers are not just
connecting because they can, they do so with intention and increasing expectations. No matter
where you are in the social media maturity cycle, the questions you have to answer will guide your
strategy and evolution. It’s never too late to integrate an intelligence system that constantly
examines the 5 W’s and an H.E.:

1. Who
2. What
3. When
4. Where
5. Why
6. How
7. Extent

The answers will help guide a useful, value-driven and an evergreen strategy and engagement
program that attracts and retains consumers. Without careful or relevant engagement, businesses
risk running anti-social campaigns that cause social blindness or far worse, disconnection via an
unfollow or unlike.




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(cc) Brian Solis, www.briansolis.com - Twitter, @briansolis
The End of Business as Usual: Rewire the way you work to succeed in the consumer revolution




Pre-order now at Amazon | Barnes and Noble | 800CEOREAD.
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ENGAGE!: The complete guide for businesses to build and measure success on the social web




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(cc) Brian Solis, www.briansolis.com - Twitter, @briansolis
Brian Solis is principal at Altimeter Group, a research-based advisory firm. Solis is
globally recognized as one of the most prominent thought leaders and published
authors in new media. A digital analyst, sociologist, and futurist, Solis has studied and
influenced the effects of emerging media on business, marketing, publishing, and
culture. His current book, The End of Business as Usual helps companies rethink
business strategies to lead, not react to, the new consumer revolution. His previous
book Engage, is regarded as the industry reference guide for businesses to build and
measure success in the social web.




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(cc) Brian Solis, www.briansolis.com - Twitter, @briansolis

								
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