Brands push into social media chat

May 28, 2009 in

facebook3By Simon Fuller. Friending media. Brands are a hot youth topic when it comes to social media, a new study by MTV Networks International suggests.
The research, A Beta Life Youth, carried out among 8,000 12-to-24 year-olds in the UK, the US, Germany, India and Japan, found that, thanks to the growth of social media, “brands are a key part of young people’s conversations… they are talking more about brands than a year ago.”
Social networking sites such as Facebook buzz with brand-oriented chat, with two thirds of UK respondents talking along this theme on these platforms. Researchers also found that though 28% of young people would like to be ‘friends’ with a brand on a social networking site, the impression was that “most want exclusivity in some way, they want to feel special”.
How? Well, some 40% of respondents said they’d like to ‘get invited to special events for the brand’, such as exclusive launch parties.
“When brands think of exclusivity, brands think of exclusive previews of products, exclusive videos of new advertising campaigns,” says Henry Elliss, head of social media at search conversion agency Tamar. “The special event is something maybe brands don’t always think of… it’s a chance to get fans involved, it costs little. It maybe just involves a few people, but it’s a chance to create brand advocates.”
Surprisingly, the study also found that many young people feel “reading about brands on blogs and social networking sites [is] more important than celebrity endorsement” when it comes to driving purchases.
“Celebs are good for branding,” comments Elliss. “[But] knowing how much brands spend on this, they could try spending a fraction of that on social media marketing too.”
And the research also suggests that youth can be a little bit picky, placing a premium on those it sees as ‘favourites’ – a mere 20% of respondents said they would be interested in being contacted by brands not deemed favourites.
This doesn’t mean a brand can’t join the conversation though.
“Concentrating on being a teenager’s favourite brand may not be worth it,” reckons Elliss.  “Instead, [the brand] could concentrate on people who do talk about [the brand] anyway… on people who are already talking rather than getting more people to talk about the brand.”

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