Sprout Social’s index offers new insights into the way users think about brands on social media. Brands need to quit promoting their product and need to produce meaningful, interesting content. Otherwise, they will continuously loose followers. Here are the key findings.

Social Media analytics provider Sprout Social announced new findings regarding social media usage from brands. The Index analyzed user opinions from Q3 in 2016. Users from different social media platforms were questioned about their reasons to follow and un-follow brands. The findings show that some users follow brands for one specific reason – but that same reason won’t necessarily make them stay. While the quality and quantity of content is still rising, this also results in the need for new strategies and ideas. Some of them are great and turn into everlasting trends, such as User Generated Content. But some turn out to be on the negative end of the spectrum – such as overly political or funny content.

What annoys users the most?

Sprout Social’s index gives brands a better idea about the content users are looking for and fleeing from. The questions were quite frank but at least they offer definite answers. Users were asked to list their views on annoying actions brands undergo on social media. Here are the answers.

The most annoying action taken by brands is the sharing of overly promotional content. Or simply sharing too many promotions. Almost 60% of interviewees stated this. This is a very wide implication for the way brands should approach their own content. Other annoying actions include the usage of slang or jargon that just does not fit the brand as well as failing to transport a personality with the account. Additionally, users are annoyed by brands who try but fail to be funny. Surprisingly, not receiving replies from the brand is the least annoying action among those that were list. Still, one in four users believes this to be quite annoying.

The findings regarding annoying actions already show that the biggest problem is unfitting content. Every brand has their image – and users want them to stick to it. But most importantly, brands need to reevaluate the purpose of their social media accounts. A clear distinction between advertisement and inspiring, fun-to-look-at content on social media seems to be the biggest issue.

Why do they follow brands to begin with?

The big question is: what makes users follow a brand? What are they looking for or expecting from a brand’s social media presence? Sprout Social delivered the answers to this important and farreaching question.

Fairly simple and easy to guess is the biggest motive: users are interested in a product or service. An impressive 73% of users stated this. Another 58% are interested in promotions. So, the top two reasons to follow brands on social media are clearly product-related and purchase-related. Further reasons were entertainment, an offered incentive to follow (e.g. a contest) or a general interest in the industry. Least important were the urge to communicate with a brand or because friends already followed a brand. Overall, the biggest interest is in the actual product. Therefore, the product needs to be part of the shared content. But, social media is not for self-advertisement. Content needs to include the product but in an informative, entertaining and helpful way. The product is part of the content but not the content itself. It needs to be included in a meaningful piece of content. To learn how content supports brand loyalty, feel free to read our blog article on the topic.

What actions bring them to unfollow brands?

In a third question, interviewees explained which actions taken by brands would make them unfollow that brand. The reasons prove that brands need to invest more time and effort into content that includes the product but isn’t a simple product image or promotional offer.

These findings, combined with the ones mentioned above prove one thing: what might attract users to follow you in the beginning, might not make them stay in the long run. Users are clearly against overly promotional content and want interesting insights into your product or service instead.

Therefore, follow these guidelines:

  • Stick to your brand’s image

  • Use language that is appropriate for your industry and target group

  • Explain and offer deep insights into your product

  • Social media is NOT an advertising platform

About Anthea Bruger

Anthea was part of the squarelovin team from 2018 to 2019. In addition to her marketing management studies at the Northern Business School, she supported the marketing team, in content creation as an expert for all things Instagram.

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