Brands that have Facebook pages are unlikely to attract the fan base they desire unless they give users something in return, such as discounts and exclusives.
In a recent poll by Mintel, 24 per cent of Facebook members admitted they only follow businesses that provide them with a gift or financial incentive.
Just over a fifth of shoppers have subscribed to or follow a company on social media websites, with Twitter proving to attract more consumers than Facebook.
Indeed, 22 per cent of people have conversed with brands over Twitter, compared to 11 per cent on Facebook.
However, 23 per cent of individuals aged under 35 revealed that if a friend 'liked' or positively commented on a product or service, they would be more likely to buy it. This declines to nine per cent for consumers aged over 35.
Senior technology analyst at Mintel Cecilia Liao stated: "Brands [that] wish to use this medium may wish to think about the incentive they are giving consumers for doing so and brands should not assume that just because consumers are following them on social media they are engaged.
"Understanding how consumers like and want to interact with your brand is key to success with this medium."
How can small business social media monitoring help?
Aside from the obvious incentives that should be offered, like discounts and exclusive chances to purchase new items, small and medium-sized enterprises need to make sure they monitor their mentions on Facebook and Twitter.
With the research highlighting the importance of positive feedback in encouraging consumers to part with their cash, brands need to make sure they respond to customer comments, whether good or bad.
However, recently writing in the Huffington Post, chief executive officer of IT Decisions Mark Hillary warned that brands that ignore their customers on social media platforms and websites could damage their relationship.
Twitter in particular is instant, so if a business upsets a customer, they will tell all their followers of the issue, who in turn may move away from a brand. As such, companies need to offer their thanks to people who provide positive feedback and try to make amends as quickly as possible with unhappy shoppers.
This can be anything from an apology to free delivery next time they purchase something.
Further small business social media advice can be found here:
Can your small business handle Twitter complaints?
Email most popular way to complain to small businesses
Twitter helps brands to engage more with consumers