Digital Waste: Dumping on Social Media

WPP affiliate and cutting-edge market researcher TNS Global has come out with a study that suggests putting a brake on the shifting of marketing funds by companies across industries to digital marketing in order to engage with consumers on social media as the strategy might lead to very little customer acquisition and arguably more unhappy consumers.

The company's fndings were revealed by TNS’s Digital Life study where more than 72,000 consumers in 60 countries were surveyed in order to study their online behaviorn. An interactive visualization of the survey can be had  where users can plug in either "global" or one of 60 countries from Argentina to Vietnam to check and note some interesting outcomes. For example, Uganda and neighboring Tanzania are projected to have greater than 50% growth in both Internet banking and location based services but they only foresee 3% growth in internet banking in the US.

Overall, TNS found that as many as 57% of people in developed markets do not want to engage with brands via social media with leading social media markets, the US and the UK coming in at 60% and 61% respectively. The findings are considerably rosier in fast developing markets like China, India, Malaysia, Argentina and Brazil where customers were found to be far more amenable to entertaining overtures from brands on social networks. But according to TNS even there "brands must still plan and manage online engagement carefully to avoid alienating consumers and doing more harm than good."

But social media leader giants like Twitter with its huge market captilization are not dragging their feet in meeting the challenge of potentially waning interest and disclination to engage on the part of consumers in the developed world. The company is rolling out new ad program that offers a platform to  promote tweets, accounts, and trends. In the recent past it has upped to encompass hundreds of clients across industries and hired client-focused professionals in regional offices while bringing the headcount on its monetization team from an invisible three to over sixty.

There are also traction at the strategic level across the globe to ensure dynamism in social media strategies with companies like UK based Sift Media launching a Social Media Strategy Summit in London early next summer to see  "how companies are transforming internally and externally to meet the needs of their highly connected stakeholders through the deployment of social business strategies and technologies" leading one to conclude that TNS's digital study shows the need for caution before embarking on a social media spending campaign but by no means suggests either the inutility or decline of social media.

Even at 40% penetration markets like the US and the UK can and do benefit from engaging customers in a brand-consistent manner on social media platforms. Refining the message to minimize wasteful dissemination can only help achieve customer acquisition on a continually increasing basis.


Published by

Vijay Dandapani

Co-founder and president of a New York based hotel company for 24 years. Grew the firm to five hotels in Manhattan and also developed a greenfield project at MacArthur airport, New York. Speaker at numerous prestigious forums including Economy Hotels World Asia, Lodging Conference, NYU, Columbia University Real Estate Roundtable, Baruch College's Zicklin School and ALIS. President and ceo of New York City Hotel Association since January 2017.