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Brands now more likely to engage through social media

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Brands are more comfortable talking direct to consumers through social media, a survey has found.

Consumer community Ciao UK, the Bing shopping service, quizzed advertising and e-commerce professionals on their use of social media.

Some 75% of respondents said brands had, over the course of the last year, become more comfortable engaging with consumers. And 62% said they had started to engage with consumers, end users or clients to shape the future of their business, 25% of these through online forums.

In all, 64% said they had responded publicly to online criticism, a rise from 37% the previous year. The number of people moderating or deleting online criticism had fallen from 18% in 2009 to 2% in 2010. And 83% said using direct engagement had given them a good understanding of what motivates their customers.

Alexander Miller, team leader sales Ciao Advertising at Microsoft, said: “Brands have learned to address consumer concerns directly, whether it’s through face-to-face engagement or one of a range of increasingly powerful online communications channels. Honesty and transparency are the bywords of social media and brands who take that on board stand to benefit from a genuine, two-way relationship with their audience.”

The research canvassed 70 industry professionals at April’s Internet World, and followed up on research carried out at the exhibition the year before.

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