Companies’ Online Behaviour Risks Turning People into ‘Brand Blockers’

  Companies’ Online Behaviour Risks Turning People into ‘Brand Blockers’

Nearly seven in ten consumers would stop using a brand or product if they were
              irritated by that company’s social media behaviour

  *Companies will spend more money than ever on social media in 2013,
    comprising around one quarter of their entire marketing budgets
  *However, only 26% of consumers use social media to follow and interact
    with companies
  *Friends’ recommendations of companies and products are largely followed
    while unsolicited marketing is rated as the worst social media experience
  *65% would stop using a company if its social media behaviour irritated or
    upset them.

Business Wire

HENLEY-ON-THAMES, England -- November 20, 2012

Well-intentioned marketers are at risk of inadvertently converting potential
customers into ‘brand blockers’ as a result of irritating online behaviour.
This is the key finding of new global research into the effectiveness of
social media marketing commissioned by Pitney Bowes Software, a global leader
in customer data, analytics, communication software and services.

Marketers and consumers failing to see eye to eye on social media. (Photo:
Business Wire)

Marketers and consumers failing to see eye to eye on social media. (Photo:
Business Wire)

The independent study, conducted by Vanson Bourne, compares social media
marketing trends among marketing directors with consumer attitudes to
marketing via social media across Australia, France, Germany, the UK and the

The survey reveals that when it comes to external communications, nearly 70%
of marketing directors are placing a greater emphasis on social media now than
ever before, claiming that one-quarter of their marketing budgets will be
allocated to social media activity in 2013.

However, marketers' enthusiasm for using social media is not matched by
consumers’ views of social media marketing. Only a quarter use social media to
follow and keep up-to-date with certain companies or brands (26%), while most
are predominantly on social media to keep in touch with friends and family

In this context, ‘followed’ brands fare relatively well. Nearly half of social
media users (48%) are positive towards receiving their marketing messages. The
reverse is true of communications from companies people don’t follow, which
40% say they would be annoyed to receive. What is more, consumers rate
unsolicited marketing (‘spam’) and pop-up advertisements as their worst
experiences of social media marketing.

Perhaps most worryingly, 65% of consumers surveyed say that they would stop
using a brand that upset or irritated them as a result of their social media

In contrast, recommendations from online friends hold more sway: 68% said that
they investigated these or even made a purchase (15%).

Companies out of touch

When it comes to interacting with brands, the research shows consumers are
most interested in discount or money-saving vouchers, new products and
services, and upcoming sales and events. Yet these are bottom of the list for
marketers, mentioned by fewer than one in ten of those surveyed. Instead,
marketing decision-makers highly rate the effectiveness of newsletters,
information about the organisation’s social responsibility and customer
satisfaction surveys, all of which were least interesting to consumers.

While consumers and marketers were aligned in their emphasis on Facebook as
the most popular and trusted social media site, they disagreed about the
importance of other social media outlets. Beyond Facebook, marketers devote
most of their remaining spend on Twitter (57%) and Google+ (51%). By contrast,
consumers prefer YouTube – rated only fifth by marketers – over Twitter and

“This research is fascinating because it reveals a clear disconnect between
the effort marketers are putting into social media and the desire among
consumers to engage,” says Kieran Kilmartin, Marketing Director, EMEA & India,
Pitney Bowes Software. "Even well-intentioned marketers that persist with
old-school 'broadcast' marketing models risk inadvertently turning potential
brand ambassadors off, or at worst, triggering them to disengage completely
and ultimately become a ‘brand blocker’."

Further UK statistics:

  *UK companies will devote the highest proportion of marketing spend on
    social media next year, allocating close to half of marketing budgets
    (47%) to social media in 2013
  *There are marked gaps in marketers’ ability to quantify the impact of
    their social media initiatives. Two-thirds (66%) see their campaigns as
    effective but only one-third (33%) are confident that they can establish a
    link between social media spend and profitability. The UK is the most
    confident market, with as many as 80% saying their campaigns are effective
    and 62% claiming that they can establish an impact on profitability.
  *At 78%, the UK was among the most confident regions surveyed in their view
    that consumers are positive toward social media marketing, only exceeded
    by France (92%).
  *However, the UK also has the biggest disconnect in terms of social media
    tactics: UK marketers have the greatest confidence in customer
    satisfaction surveys (70%), matched by the lowest consumer interest in
    such communications (10%) globally.
  *While globally, only one-third (33%) overall are confident that they can
    establish a link between social media spend and profitability, 62% in the
    UK say they are very well informed of the impact social media activity has
    on profitability.

To read the White Paper ‘Social media: contrasting the marketing and consumer
perspectives’ – download now:

                                   – Ends –

About the study

In August and September 2012, Vanson Bourne conducted online interviews with
300 senior marketing decision-makers working in business-to-consumer
organisations across five international markets (UK, France, Germany,
Australia, USA) and seven economic sectors (Retail, Insurance, Retail Banking,
Utilities, Telecoms, FMCG and the Public Sector).

The questionnaire focused on their use of social media as a marketing channel,
including aspects such as marketing spend, channels used, social media tactics
used, measurement and challenges associated with social media marketing.

At the same time, 3,000 adult consumers in the same regions, who use either
use or have previously used social media, were interviewed online to explore
corresponding areas of interest, such as which social media they are using,
what they are using them for, along with their response to receiving marketing
messages and providing personal information.

About Pitney Bowes Software

Pitney Bowes Software (PBS) was formerly Pitney Bowes Business Insight (PBBI).

Pitney Bowes Software provides multichannel solutions that optimise data to
create relevant dialogue between organisations and their customers.These
solutions enable lifetime customer relationships by integrating data
management, location intelligence, sophisticated predictive analytics,
rules-based decision making and cross-channel customer interaction management
to increase the value of every customer communication while also delivering
operational efficiencies.

Pitney Bowes Software is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Pitney Bowes Inc.
(NYSE:PBI), a customer communications management technology leader. For more
information, please visit and

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