Social media and branded content: What consumers think globally

Social MediaSocial media is the great hope for brand marketers, potentially representing a way of directly reaching customers while also being extremely cost effective.

But the picture isn’t all rosy as a new study of 70,000 consumers globally shows. Kantar TNS’s Connected Life study shows more than a quarter (26%) of consumers saying they ignore posts or ads from brands on channels like Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat.

OK, that leaves a huge number of people who don’t ignore them and a 74% reach certainly isn’t bad. But the fact that there’s a big chunk of people doing the social media equivalent of getting up and making the tea during the commercial break means a lot of missed opportunities.

That’s especially so given that 23% of internet users are now on Snapchat (it was only 12% two years ago) with Instagram rising to 42% from 24% in that time.

Even some of those who don’t ignore ads/posts don’t seem to like them with 34% of people saying they feel “constantly followed” by online advertising. That leads 18% of consumers globally to opt for ad blocking, although in Poland the figure is a huge 51%.

I have to agree. It’s not even as if the ads are relevant much of the time. I don’t mind being served with fashion ads when I’m on fashion sites but when I’m researching tech, I don’t want to be reminded of the Gucci jeans I looked at and couldn’t afford. Maybe a tech ad might make me feel better.

Burberry Snapchat

But enough about me. Scepticism about branded posts/ads varies globally it seems, with Scandinavians giving them the biggest thumbs-down (57%) but with Saudi Arabians (15%) and Brazilians (19%) not seeming to mind so much. In the UK, we tend to veer towards scepticism with 40% of us ignoring posts and ads. China is 24% anti and South Africa 26%.

“Some brands are getting it spot on – in the past year we’ve seen the likes of Disney, Starbucks and McDonald’s use Snapchat’s filters to engage consumers in a way that doesn’t feel intrusive,” said Michael Nicholas, global director at Kantar TNS. “This is key to overcoming many people’s fundamental negative perceptions of brand activity online.”

While consumers shy away from obviously branded posts and ads, they’re very open to what real people are saying/posting, whether those real people are their friends and family or influencers like celebrities and social media stars. That’s especially so for the young.

The study found 40% 16-to-24 year-olds say they put more trust in what people say online about brands more than sources such as newspapers, brands’ own websites or TV ads.

“Younger people are more influencer-oriented than ever before, trusting bloggers and peers rather than information from brands,” Nicholas said.

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