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A brand's presence on a social media site not only engenders consumer loyalty but also affects consumers' likelihood to buy, according to a study conducted by Psychster Inc. for Allrecipes.com.

Branded profiles on social sites tend to increase intent to purchase, especially when consumers can become fans of brands and add brand logos to their personal profile pages, the study found.

Purchase intent was higher when consumers could become a fan of a corporate profile (3.8 rating on a 5 point scale) than when this functionality was absent (3.6). (See blue circles in chart.)

Similarly, consumers were more willing to recommend brands to friends when they could become a fan (3.8) than when they could not (3.5):

Below, other findings from the study Comparing User Engagement Across Seven Interactive and Social-Media Ad Types, which measured user engagement, advertising perceptions, and purchase intent across a variety of advertising types within social sites.

Sponsored content was the most engaging ad type, but the least likely to trigger consumer behavior or viral spread: Consumers reported being more likely to interact with sponsored content (3.3) than with any other ad type and the least likely to see it as an ad (3.7).

However, among ad types measured, sponsored content was least likely to elicit purchase intent and recommendations to friends (3.4).

Give and get widgets were more engaging than banners and newsletters: Consumers were more likely to want to interact with ads where they could create and customize something (e.g., a custom car or a dinner menu), but they were not significantly more likely to recommend the brands to friends or show intent to purchase.

Banners and newsletters were the formats most likely to be viewed as advertisements (4.2), but they were among the best to trigger purchase intent (3.7 and 3.6, respectively) and viral recommendations (3.7 and 3.5, respectively).


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Other findings:

  • The findings held across websites and brands: The best and worst-performing ad types were the same on both of the publishers studied (Allrecipes and Facebook) and for both of the brands studied (a leading soup brand and a car brand).
  • No ad type was so engaging that it overcame the advantage gained by matching brand to website: That is, ads are at an advantage when the brand relates to the site on which it appears. In this case, the soup brand performed better on Allrecipes than it did on Facebook.

About the data: Findings are from the study Comparing User Engagement across Seven Interactive and Social-Media Ad Types conducted by Psychster Inc. for Allrecipes.com. A total of 478 Allrecipes users were recruited via a sitewide popover to assess ad types on Allrecipes.com; 681 Facebook users were recruited via a panel company to assess Facebook ads. Surveys were fielded in May 2009.

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