Consumers know exactly what they want from small businesses on social media, with product information, promotions and engagement top of their wish list.
Social Media Around the World report 2012 by InSites Consulting shows 55 per cent of social networkers follow at least one brand. Most users follow up to 12 brands passively and actively engage with between three and six companies on social media.
Those consumers who connect with brands via social media tend to be more positive than small businesses may expect; less than ten per cent of interactions are negative. The most positive engagement occurs when consumers are asked for their opinion. The research found that social media users are keen to get involved in elements of product development and want to be asked their opinion by brands.
When it comes to brands on social media, users know what they want. In addition to involving them in creating products, people want businesses to share clear product information, publish regular news, and offer promotions and freebies.
News and information trump advertising
Content marketing has a clear role to play in engaging with customers online. The top conversation starters on all channels include news articles alongside the likes of competitions and promotions, whereas traditional advertising has taken a hit and is less effective now as a conversation starter.
Nearly six in ten respondents said they expect brands to publish news on their sites and promote it via social media, with around half saying businesses should offer them content that is relevant to their interest and lifestyle, as well as exclusive content.
This research once again highlights the value for small businesses in investing in high-quality content to engage with their target audience on social media and other channels.
Earlier this year, Alan Stevens of MediaCoach.co.uk said small businesses should guard against being overly promotional on social media, as users want to be engaged with rather than promoted to on these channels.
"They like to have a conversation with the person they are buying, they like to get questions answered, they like to be able to offer opinion on all those things. Creating that engagement can lead to a sale," he said.