News & Views

Ignore connections – target the genuinely valuable social media consumers

by Contagious Contributor

Social media connections are no indicator of online – or offline – brand engagement and influence, says Anne Benoist, director at Kantar Media 

This is one of the key findings of a new segmentation of social media users created on Kantar Media’s TGI Clickstream study. The study provides detailed insight into the online and offline behaviour of consumers, based on the analysis of social media connections and engagement of over 50 million adults around the world (aged 15+).

Anne Benoist shares five key learnings for marketers to improve the effectiveness of social media campaigns:

Most social media users show little online social engagement

Indeed, over 50% of British adults (aged 15+) who are members of at least one prominent social networking site fall into the Social Spectators segment. They have a significant number of connections across social media networks but they actually have very little brand or social engagement online. Thus for marketers their online value can be very limited.

Connected Engagers: a key target for marketers for being so socially active online

There are, however, two social media-using groups of adults revealed in the segmentation who may be of particular value – despite being very different to each other – and of real interest to advertisers who want to improve the effectiveness of their social media campaigns and optimise their business online. One of these is the Connected Engagers group, representing a modest 3% of social networking adults in Britain (1.6 million people).

These Connected Engagers could hardly be more socially engaged online, with a particularly high number of connections across social media networks. They also follow brands on these networks and post reviews about products and brands online. As such, their influence is potentially very high and if brands can engage them effectively then they may be relied upon to spread the brand’s message effectively online.

Online Experimenters: a larger group with genuine clout, though with fewer connections

The other group for canny marketers to target are the Online Experimenters. At first glance they may not seem so promising compared to the Connected Engagers. They have quite a low number of connections, yet they post reviews about products and brands online and follow brands on social media sites. They are also a far larger group than the Connected Engagers, representing 10% of social media-using adults (4.8 million individuals).

However, the real strengths of Online Experimenters stem from their offline attributes. TGI’s ‘Social DNA’ measure assesses consumers’ subconscious drivers behind decisions and is represented by the amount and mix of consumers’ economic clout and cultural characteristics (referred to respectively as economic and cultural capital). Whilst Connected Engagers are big on social media, they don’t have particularly high levels of cultural or economic capital. However, Online Experimenters are especially likely to have high levels of both economic and cultural capital. This means their overall influence and spending power is likely to be strong. In fact their robust economic capital is reflected in their income: Online Experimenters are 72% more likely than the average social media user to have a family income of £50,000 or more, but Connected Engagers are only 18% more likely to do so.

Online Experimenters are likely to be older, Connected Engagers more likely to be younger, with few responsibilities

Not only are these two groups different in their motivations, but also in their fundamental demographic composition. Connected Engagers are two and a half times more likely to be in the ‘Flown the Nest’ TGI Lifestage group (aged 15-34, not married or living as couple, no son/daughter at home), whilst Online Experimenters are 50% more likely to be ‘Mid-Life Independents’ (aged 35-54, not married or living as a couple and do not live with relations) and over a third more likely to be ‘Unconstrained Couples’ (aged 35-54, married or living as a couple, do not live with son or daughter). The older profile of Online Experimenters may explain their lower number of social media connections. They may have come later to social media sites and thus not have built up as many connections as Connected Engagers and indeed they may have fewer peers in their age range on such sites.

Each group carries influence and spending power in very different sectors

Clearly both groups can carry influence but the kinds of areas in which they have influence are very different. Depending on which product or service a marketer wishes to promote, it is important to match it to the right online influencer. Connected Engagers are particularly likely to be ‘Champions’ of a variety of products and services. This means that they talk to many different people about these products or services, have a large amount of knowledge about them and believe they could very likely convince others with their opinions. Computers, software, websites and mobile phones are all products of which Connected Engagers are especially likely to be ‘Champions’. Conversely, Online Experimenters carry influence in particular when it comes to cars, holidays and home appliances.

This is also reflected in their online purchasing, with Connected Engagers especially likely to have bought personal technology online (as well as being more likely than the average social media user generally to buy a huge range of products and services online). Online Experimenters have a particular propensity to purchase high ticket items like cars, accommodation and financial products or shares online.

Product and service biases can reveal opportunities for marketers

The metered behavioural insight collected on TGI Clickstream reveals that Connected Engagers have visited on average a greater number of times ‘in the last four weeks’ than any of the other five groups of social media users. Meanwhile, Online Experimenters, who have a particular interest in finance, have spent far more minutes ‘in the last for weeks’ on than other social media users.

So here we have two very different, but in their own ways, very influential groups. Which represents the greatest value will depend on exactly who the marketer is seeking to reach and what product or service they wish to promote.

What is clear is that marketers need to look beyond widely accepted online behavioural metrics to specific evidence of engaged online activity alongside attitudes and overall levels of influence to determine how valuable consumers really are. Now is a good time for brands to review who they’re really speaking to online.