Social-media marketers beware: You can’t buy loyalty

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Brands that boost their Facebook fan base by offering freebies and discounts to people who sign up could face a backlash in the not-too-distant future, warns Augie Ray. Social search engines are likely to find ways to weed out “fake” fans, just as conventional search engines learned to screen out “black hat” marketers who sought to manipulate their algorithms. “Brands hoping to help their social search engine relevance by amassing fans should take heed — the easy way may work for a while, but the authentic and hard way always wins in the end,” Ray writes.

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How to stop bloggers from distorting your online messaging

About 70% of brand coverage by bloggers around the world is disconnected from the core messages being promoted by digital marketers, according to a study by PR firm Burson-Marsteller.

Distortion of Company Messages by Blogs

Distortion of Company Messages by Blogs by Region, May 2010, (c) eMarketer

Some degree of message distortion is inevitable, but experts say that companies can reduce the noise by creating powerful content of their own – if bloggers can link directly to high-quality content, the theory goes, they’re less likely to put their own spin on things.

Nearly three-quarters of blog posts don’t reflect corporate messaging

Marketers and other corporate communications professionals may sometimes feel they have a thankless task: carefully craft messages about their company’s thought leadership, social responsibility efforts and new product or service launches, only to find those messages distorted as they’re disseminated through the media.

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Study Reveals: Venues and Relationships Affect How Social Media Users Perceive Advice

One thing that makes social media marketing powerful is consumers’ trust in “people like them”—their friends, family and other online peers.

(c) Facebook

(c) Facebook

Marketers want to tap into that trust through the power of earned media or by engaging in a conversation with consumers, but where social conversations take place has an effect on their perceived trustworthiness as well as who is taking part in them.

A study of frequent social media users by market research firm Invoke Solutions found that the most trusted information was posted by people respondents knew. But blog posts were more likely to be trusted “completely” than posts on Facebook, and trust dropped off sharply when it came to Twitter, even among friends.

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