Customer Engagement and Social Media Usage

August 16, 2016 By Randy Brandt

For several weeks now, CX Solutions and Voice Crafter have been sharing results of our2016 Benchmark Study of Customer Engagement.  We have offered a definition of Customer Engagement, tried to demonstrate why it matters, revealed some of the brands that are CE leaders, and discussed why/how they have achieved such leadership.

If you’ve been following our blog series, you may recall that in “What Is Customer Engagement and Why Does It Matter?” we proposed that CE has two critical components:

  • Affinity
  • Activation

We defined affinity as “a liking or attraction to something, a feeling of closeness, and a quality that makes people or things well-suited to each other.”   In the context of Customer Engagement, we characterized affinity as a customer’s “emotional attachment, including confidence in the brand, belief in its integrity, pride in the brand, and passion for it.” 

The other critical component of CE is activation, which is the behavioral side of Customer Engagement.  It includes repeat purchasing and patronage, but also additional behaviors such as actual referrals, following and/or posting about a brand on social media, actively attempting to organize and participate in brand-based communities, and participating in brand-sponsored public or charitable events.

In “More on Why Customer Engagement Matters” we presented evidence that customers who have a strong affinity for a brand are more likely to engage with that brand via social media.  Specifically, we presented survey results indicating that customers having high brand affinity were more likely to follow the brand on Facebook and Twitter than other customers.

But, is it really brand affinity that is driving such social media usage, or something else?  Could it be, for instance, that some consumers are generally more active in social media usage than others, and that it’s this general propensity to use (or not use) social media that is being reflected in our results?

To address this issue, we asked people who completed our survey to indicate the degree to which they “regularly use social media such as Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat, etc.”  Based on their responses, we classified survey respondents as either high or low in “general use of social media.”  We then looked at differences in the degree to which consumers follow a brand on Facebook and/or Twitter between high and low general use of social media groups.

The results, illustrated in Figure 1, indicate that individuals who have a high propensity to use social media, in general, are more likely than those having a low propensity to follow a brand via Facebook, and to follow it on Twitter.


These data suggest that following a brand via social media might just be part of person’s general level of social media usage.

But what happens if we add information about an individual’s level of Customer Engagement — in this case, brand affinity — to the mix?

Results, illustrated in Figure 2, show that customers having relatively strong brand affinity are more likely than others to follow and/or “like” that brand on its Facebook page, regardless of their general propensity to use social media.


Similarly, results shown in Figure 3, show that customers having relatively strong brand affinity are more likely than others to follow a that brand on Twitter, regardless of their general propensity to use social media.


These findings make it clear that companies that are able to build strong brand affinity get a boost in engagement via social media among their customers, regardless of whether those customers have a relatively high or low propensity to use social media, in general.

The lesson?  Some individuals use social media more than others.  Period.  This probably does not come as a surprise to any of you reading this blog post.   However, if a brand can build strong affinity among its customers, it will draw more of those customers to engage with the brand via social media, even among individuals who are not generally inclined to be social media users. The “presence” of these customers in their relationship with the brand will be increased.  Also, via social media, a company will be able to leverage brand ambassadors among its customer base more effectively.

In next week’s blog, we’ll have more to share regarding how Customer Engagement leaders are able to gain an advantage over competitors through customer usage of information technology.  So, please stay tuned! 

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