Facebook, Twitter Branding Have Strong Impact: Survey

Americans are almost twice as likely to follow 10 or more brands in social outlets than Canadians are.

Consumers are very willing to follow brands, though most do so to find coupons or deals, according to the results of Empathica's latest Consumer Insights research. Six in 10 consumers indicated they follow at least one brand via a social network such as Facebook or Twitter, and 40 percent of people reported doing so to search for coupons or promotions, while 30 percent cited the desire to browse for additional information.

More than 15,000 Americans and Canadians responded to the survey that focused on consumers' online habits and social media usage.

While the company noted "couponing" and promotion hunting is a primary driver of social behavior, the survey also found this habit is driving overall online behavior as well. Twenty-six percent of individuals say they are specifically seeking more coupons online.

"The challenge for companies is to identify the triggers that make consumers want to follow their brand, further engage with them and keep them top-of-mind," said Gary Edwards, Empathica's executive vice president of client services. "Our survey results suggest consumers show preference to interacting with brands that offer coupons and promotions via social media outlets. It's important for brands to recognize consumer preferences and what will help encourage them to visit an establishment."

Of those who use social media, Facebook was the overwhelming social network of choice for both Canadian (64 percent) and American (67 percent) consumers. The survey indicated that one in three respondents followed through with a friend's recommendation received through a social media outlet like Facebook or Twitter. Americans appeared to be more likely to make a recommendation through a social networking site than Canadians. Twenty-five percent of Americans and 17 percent of Canadians said they had recommended a brand, product or service to a friend via social media within the last three months.

This difference could be explained by Americans' willingness to follow brands on social media networks, noted Edwards. Americans are almost twice as likely to follow 10 or more brands in social outlets than Canadians are. In fact, almost half of the Canadians polled didn't follow any brands at all.

"There is an apparent disparity between how American and Canadian consumers are using social media sites to engage with brands," added Edwards. "We see that consumers are willing to make that connection with a brand online, even go as far as to make recommendations via social networks, so brands need to make it easier for them to do so."