SMEs urged to overcome consumer distrust of social media

Businesses need to ensure their social media campaigns are tailored to suit clients’ needs, experts say, with a new survey showing almost a third of consumers rank social media as one of their least trusted marketing channels.


According to an Experian report, based on a nationwide survey of 330 marketers and 1,000 consumers, marketers are often guilty of using a “one size fits all” approach to social media.


The report reveals 29% of consumers have a low level of trust for direct communication through social media, while only 4% of consumers rate social media channels as the most trustworthy.


Seventy percent of consumers value print media more highly than social media, yet 28% of the marketers surveyed see print as one of the least important sources of brand information.


Both marketers (91%) and consumers (85%) view company websites as their most valuable source of brand and product information.


Meanwhile, the report reveals almost 60% of the marketers surveyed plan to invest heavily in social media over the next 12 months.


But according to Matt Glasner, Experian general manager of marketing services, businesses need to tailor their campaigns if they want them to appear genuine and trustworthy.


“The big opportunity over the coming year is to apply the clever consumer segmentation… to create tailored social media campaigns, which talk to the needs of their customers,” he says.


“This is an important conversation for marketers to get right over the next 12 months.”


“In turn, [it] will generate greater cut-through and start to establish the channel as a truly valued and trusted information source.”


Matt Berriman, of Facebook-based start-up Peazie, says social media is supposed to generate one-on-one communication, but a lot of businesses treat it no differently to other channels.


“They’re throwing a message down a pipe in the hope of hitting as many people as possible. For example, I might be getting content about baby clothes yet I’m a 27-year-old male,” he says.


Berriman suggests giveaways and competitions as simple ways in which to keep consumers engaged via social media, in addition to original content not necessarily linked to their brand.


Businesses that fail to tailor their campaigns risk losing customers altogether, with the report revealing almost 60% of consumers have stopped engaging with four or more brands as a result of poorly targeted communications, while 8% no longer connect with 20 or more brands.


A further 27% of consumers say they have created separate email addresses to receive untargeted brand messaging in a bid to ensure other email accounts do not become inundated.


Seventy percent of consumers identify giveaways and incentives as one of their favourite ways to engage with brands, followed by direct mail, and communication via email.


In addition to increasing social media spend, 52% of marketers plan to increase investment in email marketing, 47% in online advertising, 41% in apps and 41% in events.


And despite an increasingly digital focus, marketers plan to increase investment in traditional channels, with 36% planning to boost print advertising, followed by TV and radio (28%).


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