Contrary to marketer assumption , consumers connect with brands on social networks for more reasons than to get the latest deals. Not only do they follow brands on Twitter or Facebook to learn more about new products and about the ethos of the brand, some consumers do so more often than to just get e-coupons. Understanding this split in the realm of social marketing is the way that brands stay relevant to consumers. A study from MarketingSherpa , "Why Consumers Friend or Follow Companies," conducted in December 2009 separated the respondents into three categories: Max Connectors, Daily Users, and All Respondents. Max Connectors are a new type of consumer demographic, one with 500 or more social network connections that is an especially valuable as MarketingSherpa explains, "for marketing, at least in theory, because they can spread a positive brand or product experience so widely." As shown in the survey, these three categories sometimes behave very differently from each other.
The draw of exclusivity is strong upon all groups - the top responded reason for networking with brands is to learn about new products, features or services, at just over sixty percent.
The assumed social draw, learning about specials or sales, was most popular for all respondents at 64 percent, and for daily users (65 percent). For Max Connectors, though, less than half indicated this reason (46 percent).
Next important is a drive to get to know the company - taking into account company culture, environmental responsibility, workers policies and other factors, especially for Max Connectors, at 48 percent. 41 percent of daily users gave this reason, and only thirty percent for the rest.
The least popular reason, entertainment, still gathered more than a third of all categories. For these consumers, they find something funny or insightful about the brand's content.
A Razorfish survey in August 2009 showed similar results, showing 43.5 percent of polled US Internet users followed a brand on Twitter for "exclusive deals or offers." 23.5 percent followed because they are a current customer, and 22.7 percent were interested in the content.
Brands are shifting from advertising wars to engagement wars, where the 30-second television spot is replaced by digital experiences. As Razorfish points out, "In today’s increasingly digital world, the experience is the message."