A recent study published by Chadwick Martin Bailey revealed that 64% of people who follow brands are also customers of those brands. This data point has created quite the buzz. It’s been shared, tweeted, and used as ammunition by social brand managers to justify more social spending and Twitter activity.
First and foremost, I am not anti brands upping their social ante.
I am, however, fearful of brands looking at the wrong data points to make decisions, resulting in a less than stellar bottom line impact, causing a backlash on a brand’s willingness to invest further in social activities.
Let’s really take a look at the stat above.
64% of people who follow brands on Twitter are customers…
What does this tell us?
- 36% of brand followers are not customers
- 36% of brand followers, while never having made a purchase, have gone out of their way to engage with the brand, to listen to the brand and be made aware of special brand offers.
- The brand has not yet figured out how to convert a Twitter following directly into sales with a whopping 36% of its Twitter base!
If I’m the brand…
The 36% who are not customers would be the interesting stat, the point of future focus, and the impetus for new social investment.
I would then begin asking myself:
- How do I learn which of my followers are or are not customers?
- How do I learn the habits and preferences of my followers?
- How do use what I learn to alter my Twitter content strategy and drive more purchase intent?
- How can I better entice my followers to visit my website?
- How can I use what I know about my followers to create dynamic and personalized experiences on my site?
- How do I ultimately ensure everyone who ends up following me turns into a customer?
Now, I recognize the number of followers who are not customers should not make its way down to 0% (love me a double negative!). If it made its way to zero, it would mean the brand stopped using Twitter effectively as an initial engagement channel.
If used properly, there should always be potential customers for whom Twitter is their initial engagement point with a brand. And, therefore, an effective outreach strategy would also mean brands have their conversion tactics ready when potential customers come knocking.
I also recognize that Twitter is not (today) meant to be a direct marketing channel. It is mainly used for brand awareness, re-engagement, retention and any other upper-funnel term you want to use.
But c’mon marketers! Investment in the upper funnel is done with the intention of eventually moving folks down through the bottom of the funnel!
It’s time for brands to really develop a mechanism by which they connect brand-building social activity to revenue. For now, this mechanism can be nothing more than a measurement system, because inherently we know social activity will move potential customers in the right direction and a system that shows this correlation would be a step in the right direction. However, to be a truly effective social brand marketer you need more than just measurement correlation…you need a system for sales causation.