Study Debunks Social Media, Finds Face-To-Face Dominates Brand Conversations, Albeit Politically



For all the stock that brands and their agencies put on the value of consumer mentions in social media, it actually ranks relatively low among the modes of communication  people use to express their sentiment about brands to others. At least when it comes to one of what likely is one of the most sensitive areas of brand communications: political affiliations.

That's the finding of a fascinating -- and especially timely -- study from Engagement Labs, which this morning released an in-depth report on the role brands take, or do not take, on political issues.

The report -- "Brand Marketing Amid Political Polarization" -- is based on two years of data tracking consumer conversations and sentiment expressed utilizing Engagement Labs' proprietary methodology for 500 brands, many of which fall on various ends of the political spectrum.

Its top conclusion -- that "it is probably wise for the biggest brands to avoid taking sides on political issues" -- runs contrary to a wide number of tracking studies from leading consumer research organizations that consumers now expect brands to take explicit positions on important social issues, especially ESG (environmental, social and governance) and DEI (diversity, equity and inclusion).

But it does raise important questions about brands that come out as explicitly politically partisan during a time of extreme political polarization, in the U.S. as well as much of the rest of the world.

Engagement Labs did not disclose the relative base of consumers utilized in its methodology, but its method provides some interesting new insights about the value of consumer communication channels as it relates to brand conversations by party affiliation, especially the relatively low value of social media vs. more direct, interpersonal forms such as face-to-face communication, phone calls or text-based conversations.


Read the full MediaPost article, here.

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