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Four Studies Social Media Managers Can Use to Improve Results


Businesses are always looking for ways to get their product or message in front of an audience. And at one time, they had complete control over how they achieved their marketing goals by putting ads in front of captive audiences.


The process was easy because traditional media outlets like radio and TV created a system of one-way communication from brand to audience. However, the internet and social media completely changed that process in a way that has dramatically shifted the relationship between brands and their audiences.


The change is so radical that many marketing departments are struggling to adapt.


Brands and Consumers View Social Media Differently

One reason for that struggle is that many brands are still trying to use the same strategies and tactics on social media that once worked in radio and TV back in the day. Yet, social media audiences are demanding something different.


In a recent study conducted by Andy Crestodina of Orbit Media and Question Pro, they found that there is a stark difference between how brands and consumers view social media.


For example:

✅ Brands view it as one-way communication, just like TV and radio, with the belief that people follow them to get all their great content, including promotions.


🚫 However, consumers say they follow brands to form social connections, keep in touch, and engage in two-way conversations. This provides them with a gratifying experience.


What Academics Have Learned About Consumers and Social Media

The industry trends aren't the only source showing these changes. There are academic studies as well, and some of these studies have been monitoring the evolution of media, communication, marketing, and consumers for some time.


Here are some examples:


🔎 As early as the 1960s, Uses & Gratification Theory (or UGT) was focused on how the mediums of television and radio could satisfy an audience's needs. In the 1980s, D.L. Swanson expanded the study of UGT into understanding the role of messaging in media.


This expanded study led to further research into how media content can generate different forms of gratification and lead to interest in content consumption.


And with the rise of social media and the internet, the concept of UGT had to evolve again.


🔎 So, in a 2015 study called Social Media Engagement Behavior: A Uses and Gratification Perspective, they explored the concept of UGT and social media because it is designed explicitly for engagement through different types of content offerings.


👉🏻 They concluded that UGT and social media expands beyond traditional media ideas because customers were no longer passive - but active participants.


Instead of acting like a captive audience, they're constantly scouring their feeds, posting comments, and sharing content. So brands have to inspire the audience to engage with them and build a relationship that could potentially start a path toward a purchase.


Think about how most romantic relationships work. It's generally not a good idea to meet someone and say, "I'm great, so marry me."



By the same token, you shouldn't start a relationship with a consumer on social media by saying:


"Click here!" 'Buy this!" "Check out this great deal!"


Brands have to change the words they use and communicate with consumers differently.



In it, they study:

12,374 Facebook posts and 29,413 tweets from eight brands between October 2015 and May of 2017. These brands included big names like Nike and Amazon.


They wanted to see what language could get a social media post shared or ignored.


👉🏻 To put it simply, they found people do not like to be told what to do on social media, either through words or images. If brands did that, the messages were more likely to be ignored.


In other words, if you're posting messages that say things like, "Come to our big sale on Friday" or "Check out this deal," you shouldn't expect your audience to take action or share the content with others.


One of the key authors of the study said, "People don't like to be told to do something on social media. They're used to that in advertising."


In social media, brands have to figure out how to join the conversation instead, and that's the key in social media.


It's not about one-way dictations but two-way conversations.


🔎 In a 2020 study entitled Customer Engagement in Social Media: A Framework and Meta-Analysis, they found that the key to customer engagement is rooted in emotional responses and reactions like satisfaction and trust.


Trust builds customer engagement directly and indirectly through satisfaction, with positive emotions, playing and supporting a direct role. Along with emotion, there's a cognitive component as well, and that is the consumer's purpose, desire, or will to perform an action, maybe the intent to make a purchase.


👉🏻 The study states, "Our meta analytic results suggest to enhance consumer engagement in social media, companies should focus on being perceived as trustworthy."


They say to improve customers' trust, firms should focus on being transparent in all of their actions, and they cite a 2020 article by the Harvard Business Review that said:


"Trusted brands are more likely to attract business, and social media is a powerful tool to create engagement, gain feedback, and build trust with your audience."


👉🏻 The study also pointed out that positive emotions directly affect customer engagement but do not facilitate relationships from trust and commitment. That's why you can't put all of your eggs in the engagement basket.


It's a metric, but it's not where the measurement of success begins and ends.


The example they provide is the Four Seasons Hotels.


They earned the number one travel and hospitality brand ranking, not only by scoring more social media impressions but earning over 80% positive impressions. Therefore, the high satisfaction and positive emotions of the Four Seasons experience got customers to be engaged.


So the research concluded emotions and trust play a role in driving consumer activities. So there you have it.


These studies help explain why constant one-way communications, promotions, and sales pitches don't work like they used to.


However, if a brand is posting one-way dictations without considering emotion, conversation, or social connection, did we really need academic studies to explain why it doesn't work on social media?



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