The fuzzy finding in the Razorfish Fluent report

Interactive group Razorfish has a new report out saying it is more important than ever before for brands to start engaging consumers inside social media. Trouble is, a lot of the data inside the Razorfish study shows consumers may not care:

– In 5 of 7 industry categories (auto, finance, home and garden, retail and travel), only 10% or less of 1,000 consumers surveyed said they were very likely to interact with a brand on social media.

– Only 33% of consumers said they trust their online friends’ recommendations vs. 73% who trust their offline friends.

– Social network advertising scored half as low in authenticity vs. television advertising and about 40% lower than print advertising.

Add it up and consumers don’t want to interact with many brands, they don’t trust online friends, and they find marketing incursions in social media inauthentic. The idea that building a marketing arm inside Facebook or Twitter is urgent seems a little silly, given those findings.

Consumers don’t care?

The Razorfish study does have good points, such as it is important for brands to “do” things worth consumers talking about and to learn how to measure conversations inside social media. Their discussion of a “Social Influence Marketing” or SIM score is noteworthy. But the real finding is consumers chatting among themselves usually do not want marketers to be part of that conversation at all.

We’ll explore this “consumers don’t care” concept and its implications for all forms of advertising in an upcoming column. Stay tuned. For the Razorfish counterpoint, we recommend this Adweek interview with Shiv Singh, Razorfish’s social media chief, and also his insightful blog.

7 thoughts on “The fuzzy finding in the Razorfish Fluent report

  1. One point worthy of distinction here is the extent to which online and offline friends overlap. For instance, in Facebook, there’s a 90% overlap of people I know in both worlds. In twitter and others, not so much.

    In facebook, online is another way to connect with people who are just friends. Twitter is more like an anonymous night club, with lack of trust a good survival instinct.

    What does that mean for brands? Facebook is probably a great place to be if you depend on word of mouth or grass roots support. The more authentic the better. Entertainers, local notables, non-profits will do well there.

  2. The key word here is authenticity which also implies high integrity. Anyone attempting to mislead consumers by being less than 100% transparent in their effort to market on Social Web is asking for big problems. I really enjoyed reading Larry Weber’s book “Marketing to the Social Web” this year. I agree with both Ben and Bud in their observations.

    Gary D. Lux

  3. Gary, you raise a good point. The Razorfish report had the right message (despite glossing over the findings that consumers don’t want to talk to brands) e.g. that companies have to “do” and not “tell.” Advertising is based on a promise, but in social media, people want to talk about real events. Promises fall short there. This makes it more difficult for brands to reach out inside social media, because *doing* things that are real, authentic and noteworthy takes time and effort. But it’s the only way I see to build real buzz.

    The real value of social media, I believe, is as a listening device. Consumers have always had conversations. Now, for the first time, we can hear them. Instead of shouting our way in, the smartest approach may be to use listening as a new form of marketing intelligence.

  4. Thank you for your thoughtful analysis — very helpful to us at Razorfish. We do believe consumers will respond to brands that provide useful content in the social world. “Fluent” reports that 29 percent of consumers surveyed by Razorfish associate themselves with specific brands on social networks, and nearly 6 out of 10 fans of brand pages will visit those pages every few months or weeks. Consumers said that their interest in a product, referral from a friend or peer, or interest in content drives their interaction with a brand page or blog. We believe that consumers would be open to brands joining their conversations if brands did a better job treating social differently (instead of using social as just another broadcast channel). There are enough examples of Social Influence Marketing successes to give companies plenty of hope. Again, thank you. — David Deal, Razorfish marketing vice president

  5. David, thank you for your response. I think that some of the Fluent report findings may signal the immaturity of the medium — social networks are young, marketers are just testing the waters, and consumers are unfamiliar with these new quasi-personal connections with brands. As you suggest, not all brands are entering social media with useful content.

    Still, the analogy to the telephone seems apt. Marketers want in, but consumers talking to each other may not want to take the call.

    Very nice work on the report, and I look forward to Razorfish’s continued expertise as the new channels evolve.

  6. I disagree with the telephone analogy as a blanket description of marketers engaging in social media. I would say the analogy offers a good illustration of how not to use social media -the interruptive model is not appropriate.

    Consumers are having conversations that include products and brands. If those brands can offer relevant, useful information and add value to the conversation, consumers will welcome them to the table.

    Of course, to be relevant and useful in a conversation, one must listen first.

  7. The strangest thing happened to this post. A week ago it was the No. 2 result in a Google search for “Razorfish Fluent.” Now it doesn’t come up at all in Google or Bing — even if you search for the headline, or the entire first paragraph.

    Such a curious change in Google results.

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