Consumers more interested in social hashtags over brand handles

Understanding how customers talk about them on social is key to a better customer experience - and a positive experience with a brand will make them more loyal.
Written by Eileen Brown, Contributor

Which are the best ways to engage with customers and hear what they are saying about your company? What are the options for brand coverage?

A recent report from New York-based social media monitoring company Digimind shows that consumer feedback tends to happen by use of hashtag, and not brand mentions.

It discovered that an overwhelming 96 percent of total US retail social brand mentions use brand hashtags, over the brand name.

For global brands, 91 percent of posts included brand hashtags, and only 9 percent directly tagged brand handles.

To fully understand how consumers are discussing products, brands must engage with consumers using compelling hashtags that resonate with their target audience.

But there are other ways that brands can gain customer loyalty without hanging on mainstream social sites for mentions. One way is through the use of apps.

A well written app could be key to the brand's relationship with its customers. The quality and usefulness of apps are indicators of how much a brand cares about its customers.

Consumers expect greater value and functionality from company-specific apps which play a crucial brand affinity role for consumers who say a positive experience with a brand app translates into greater loyalty.

Charlottesville, VA-based digital experience company WillowTree recently released its 'The Brand App Experience: Value, Purpose and Brand Loyalty' report.

It looked at over 1,000 US-based consumers' usage of brand apps, the expectation for value, and the impact their experiences have on brand loyalty.

The most popular categories of brand apps tend to be apps from banks, restaurants and retailers, which, if well written, drive frequency and loyalty.

Consumers want a specific features: 65 percent of consumers expect promotions and exclusive deals, 59 percent expect loyalty programs, and 50 percent expect the ability to make purchases within the app.

Respondents who had positive experiences said they were more likely to make purchases, sign up for loyalty programs, use the app regularly, and increase their loyalty to the brand.

Consumers who said they have had a negative experience would make fewer purchases, not recommend the brand to others, and become less loyal to the brand. Others stated they would delete the app altogether.

So how should brands connect with their customers? People spend time on social, first and foremost, to interact with family and friends.

Brands are often considered intrusive to consumers using social media according to Sprout Social's 2018 social index report. It interviewed over 3,000 people online to discover how brands can best connect with their consumers.

The top reasons that consumers reach out to brands on social are because they have a question (57 percent), have an issue with a product or service (45 percent) or want to give praise for their product or service (34 percent).

Consumers more interested in social hashtags over brand handles ZDNet

Unsurprisingly it discovered that educational content is key for brands on social. Brand marketers are focused on posts that teach (61 percent), tell a story (58 percent) and inspire (53 percent).

Facebook is still the most frequently used channel by consumers, with 94 percent of consumers using the site. Facebook should therefore be considered as the primary channel for social ads.

As only 19 percent of marketers surveyed had the budget for an influencer program, brands were using their employees to be are the new influencers and deliver the authenticity that consumers value. Seven out of ten say that they use employees as influencers or advocates today, or want to in the future.

Consumers do not tend to be in the "buy now" mindset when they are on social networks. If they encounter brand messages they probably want links to more brand information, and would consider a purchase instead of actually buying immediately.

When a customer reaches out with a question, their primary reason for reaching out on social, it is an opportunity for brands to form a relationship with the customer.

Brands should be actively engaged in monitoring and should not assume that consumers will tag them if they are happy, upset, or have something to share. Listening and being authentic, are the most important qualities for brands who really want to connect.

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