You know social media is a powerful tool for business when a grocery store attracts more Twitter followers than pop star Lady Gaga and almost as many as Miley Cyrus, whose departure drove her 2 million fans to make #MileyComeBack a trending topic for more than a day. If Whole Foods Market ever followed suit, its 1.5 million registered fans would surely start a virtual food fight.
That’s a fair assumption to make based on the latest FEED study, anyway, from marketing firm Razorfish, which suggests we’re no longer mere customers, we’re brand fans. We sign on to a brand’s Twitter feed to find out about discounts and deals–44% of consumers cited access to exclusive deals as the main reason they follow–but we stick around for the fun.
“Interesting or entertaining” content was the No. 1 reason to follow a brand for 23% of the 1,000 consumers surveyed. And a recent report from Penn State found that 20% of all Tweets mention specific brands or products (Today, for example, “Google Wave” and “Modern Warfare 2” are trending topics on Twitter).
The most important take-home from the Razorfish study is that interactions with a brand matter to consumers. Of those surveyed, 65% said an online experience with a brand has changed their opinion of that brand, and 97% said that experience influenced whether or not they would purchase an item or service. Those who engage with a brand digitally aren’t just more likely to purchase that brand, they’re more likely to recommend it to their friends.
Most companies are worried that their consumers’ ability to communicate with peers and read user reviews online is crippling the effect of advertising. But Razorfish found that technology isn’t killing advertising–it’s helping it to evolve. Some 69% of consumers provided feedback to a company through social media channels, the company’s Web site, or review sites. These channels are creating two-way communication between brands and their customers.
Think of how you relate to brands today. We’re certainly not the consumers of 10 years ago, or even five years ago. Now we can follow Zappos on Twitter along with 1.5 million others, or be one of Starbucks’ four million Venti Vanilla Bean Frappuccino Blended Creme drinking friends on Facebook.
And as the interactive nature of digital media evolves from brand “awareness” to “purchase” to “recommendation” in one single experience, there are sure to be some big dollar signs attached if companies take advantage of building on their consumer fan base.