Why we break up… with a brand

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A new study just released by ExactTarget and CoTweet finds that more than 90 percent of consumers have “broken up” with at least one brand via Facebook, email or Twitter.

The study surveyed 1500 consumers and found the most common reasons given for a social media breakup are that the company sends too many messages (“The stalker”), the consumer receives too many messages in general from companies (“The belle of the ball”) or the company’s communications become boring and repetitive (“The spark is gone”).

Around a quarter of consumers are more mercenary and “only after one thing”. They sign up to receive messages from a brand only to receive a one-time offer and then opt out.

Consumers who follow a brand through Facebook and Twitter are also much less likely to formally indicate that they are no longer interested in receiving information from a company and just ignore it (“not returning your calls”).

A social relationship with a brand begins when you become a subscriber, fan, follower or consumer of the company’s products. As in any new romantic relationship, how it develops depends on whether the brand’s social media persona veers towards indifference, repetitiveness or just plain desperation.

93 percent of US online consumers receive at least one permission-based email once a day and 70 percent open emails from their favorite companies. But 91 percent have unsubscribed from a company’s emails, while a more passive-aggressive 17 percent will delete emails rather than actively unsubscribe. 54 percent unsubscribe when they receive too many emails, while 49 percent unsubscribe because the emails become repetitive or boring.

Facebook fans pose particular problems for online marketeers in that their expectations vary wildly. Facebook users like a company’s Facebook page for all kinds of reasons from self-expression and identification with the brand, the desire to learn more about the products and interact with other users to getting special offers. 51 percent of Facebook fans say they do expect to receive marketing messages from companies they have “liked” while 40 percent don’t! Consumers under 25 are least likely to expect to receive marketing messages from companies they like on Facebook.

Facebook unlike reasonsSince 42 percent of US consumers (64 percent of Facebook users) have liked a brand on Facebook, this is a puzzle marketeers need to learn to solve. 55 percent of those who liked a brand decide later change their minds, but many of those don’t  bother to formally unlike the company (see image left). When they do un-like, 44 percent of users do so because they receive many posts and 38 percent because the posts were boring and repetitive.

56 percent of active Twitter users follow at least one brand. 41 percent have followed a brand and then unfollowed later. However, Twitter users much less likely to unfollow than Facebook (55) or email (91) users. 52 percent unfollow because posts were boring and repetitive while 39 percent said the company posted too frequently.

One interesting conclusion of the study is what is important to consumers in their relationships with companies. “Consumers we spoke to didn’t talk about authenticity. They talked about caring, and caring goes much deeper. Caring conveys the sentiment that brands place the best interests of their customers ahead of their own balance sheets.”

So in the end, it’s all about the love.

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