Two separate studies have been released over the past week that show why people "friend" and "follow" brands on sites like Facebook and Twitter.
The first, from Google, looked at Facebook. The study found that 55 percent of Facebook users do not friend or "like" any brands on Facebook. Of those who do, 18 percent become a fan of one or two brands, 11 percent do so for three or four brands, 10 percent five to nine brands and just 6 percent ten or more brands. And why do they become fans?
25 percent to receive discounts and promotions
18 percent to show others they support the brands
10 percent because it's fun and entertaining
8 percent to hear new info first
The second study comes from ExactTarget and surveyed Twitter users ages 15 and up. They found that:
38 percent of users follow brands to get updates on future products
31 percent to receive discounts and promotions
30 percent to get updates on upcoming sales
28 percent to get a "freebie"
The writing is on the wall. Your top business social networking priorities should be to offer discounts and promotions, and to keep users informed about product releases and other company news that will benefit the user. This does not mean announcing a new CFO, but rather a new product line, an update to an exisiting product or news about how your products can help improve consumers' quality of life, for example.
Of course, discounts and promotions loom large. Build a value system with users by rewarding their loyalty with discounts and you are likely to see new fans and followers. And, don't stop at promoting this strategy solely on networks - make sure your website provides links to your network profiles and informing users that, by becoming a fan or follower, they can expect discounts and promotions. As always, set a strategy including well-defined limits. After all, you don't want to give away the store should a discount go viral.