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Brands Aim for Right Social Media Balance

One-third of U.S. internet users have ended a social connection with a brand because the company posted too many updates . / Credit: Balance image via Shutterstock

There can be too much of a good thing, it turns out. Even though "infrequent updates" is one of consumers' most common complaints about brands and companies that use social networking sites such as Facebook or Twitter, too many updates can spook consumers as well, a new survey shows.

One-third of U.S. Internet users have ended a social connection with a brand because the company posted too many updates, according to a survey of 878 consumers reported on by eMarketer, an online research company. The survey was sponsored by SocialVibe, an engagement advertising firm.

Although consumers offered several reasons for severing online friendships – for instance, a brand's values or content differed from what the consumer was expecting – the leading offender was update overload.

But finding the balance between overwhelming consumers with updates and underwhelming them with a stingy update strategy is a highly subjective calculus, the survey found. Many Web users told SocialVibe they checked social media networks fairly frequently for brand updates; 17 percent did so on a daily basis, while 23 percent said they checked at least once a week.

Though marketers can be confident that a steady stream of updates is widely appreciated, flooding social timelines with posts remains a danger.

Most marketers apparently have found the right balance, eMarketer said. The SocialVibe survey indicated relatively little unfriending of brands by Internet users. About a quarter of users (27 percent) reported ending their connection with brands on social networking sites, but almost as many (24 percent) said they never did, and even more (39 percent) reported doing so "rarely."

Brands that don’t overload users and instead help foster a steady connection can reap many benefits, including potentially higher customer lifetime values, according to eMarketer. About one in five respondents in the SocialVibe survey said they often made a purchase because of a social media connection with brands, and 27 percent said they sometimes did.

Reach BusinessNewsDaily senior writer Ned Smith at nsmith@techmedianetwork.com. Follow him on Twitter @nedbsmith.

Ned Smith

Ned was senior writer at Sweeney Vesty, an international consulting firm, and was Vice President of communications for iQuest Analytics. Before that, he has been a web editor and managed the Internet and intranet sites for Citizens Communications. He began his journalism career as a police reporter with the Roanoke (Va.) Times, and was managing editor of American Way magazine and senior editor of Us. He was a Captain in the U.S. Air Force and has a masters in journalism from the University of Arizona.