Consumers ‘not fooled by paid-for social content’

facebook 3Any companies still under the illusion that a social media strategy simply takes a few daily automated updates and splurges on paid-for content are in for a shock; consumers can see straight through it, apparently.
According to new research by Trustpilot, the global online reviews platform, over a quarter of respondents (29%) say brands that are active on social media are more “human”, meaning they appear more approachable and helpful by having real conversations with customers online.
Additionally, 31% of people trust brands more when the company has conversations with people on social media, and 20% check a brand’s social media presence when they are thinking about making their first purchase with the company.
However, the type of social presence a brand has, and the type of content it shares is also important. The research looked into the ways in which brands interact on social media, particularly focusing on paid-for versus organic content.
Overwhelmingly customers prefer organic content. Almost a quarter (24%) say they trust companies who build their social media audience by interacting with people, while a similar number (23%) say they don’t trust companies who advertise on social media in order to grow their network. Moreover, only 16% of people say they pay attention to content brands pay for on social media.
And no lesser luminary than the UK’s first “Doctor of Social Media” and digital behavioural scientist Dr Jillian Ney reckons results of the research highlight that even new social advertising is regarded as a sales tool and has a lower level of trust and acceptance with consumers.
“Organic content seems to be helping customers determine the service characteristics of brands and their communities, helping them to reduce purchase risk. Brands need to understand what content and triggers consumers want to see from social content and plan accordingly – they need to have the right conversations.”
Trustpilot UK vice-president James Westlake added: “Trust is fundamental to all businesses in order to drive customer loyalty and to attract new customers. As digital technology becomes increasingly prominent in consumers’ lives, it’s important for businesses to assess how to expand their online presence to increase trust in their brands.
“Our research clearly highlights that for many people, brands active on social media are more trustworthy than those who aren’t. This is unsurprising as platforms such as Facebook, Twitter or YouTube increase visibility and understanding of a brand’s reputation and offer. It’s also clear that increasingly, people prefer to see organic content. There are many ways businesses can deliver valuable, engaging content for their social media network, such as sharing online customer reviews. Customers will talk about your brand online, it’s definitely worth being part of the conversation.”

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