Brands need to be visible in social media timelines to drive engagement, but a new study has warned marketers that there are both risks and rewards involved with regular posting schedules, and oversaturation can annoy consumers and have a negative long-term impact.
Temple University’s Fox School of Business looked at data from a consumer packaged goods enterprise, which used WeChat to advertise to customers in China. The report noted that while the limited scope of the research means that it is not entirely conclusive, the results overwhelmingly show that a poor strategy and irrelevant content leads to consumers abandoning a brand entirely.
The study found that sales increased by five per cent after the publication of a social post, but a 300 per cent drop in engagement driven by scores of users unfollowing the enterprise’s official social media page negated any positive development. So, rather than increasing awareness and reach, the brand lost a large percentage of an audience that it had previously captured.
“Firms and consumers hold different views of social media,” Shuting Wang, the lead author of the study, said. “Firms see a potential to contact consumers, but users can consider commercialised social posting annoying if they are too frequent or sent at busy times.”
The study highlighted how important it is for brands to deliver content in the right place at the right time so that it can build authority, maximise exposure and drive positive business results. It also emphasised the need for a highly nuanced strategy to understand the demographics and preferences of a target audience in full.
The co-author of the report, Paul Pavlou, said that the main takeaway is that brands must be “careful” when deciding on a social media schedule, as there is often a tendency to publish scores of messages within a short time frame. He said that the short-term bump can be appealing, but it is best to focus on the long-term effect to keep consumers on side.
VaynerMedia CMO Jeff Nicholson remarked that brands should take the report’s advice on board but not panic. He added: “Audit from the top around common sense: who is going to buy my product, and do they want to talk to me on these platforms? Then, audit how much control you have over your data to understand what you can signal off of to move people in different clusters. And finally, audit your strategy and how you deploy your investment […].”