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Whatever You Do, Don’t be Snarky on Social

The hilarious exchange between Wendy’s and a customer on social media may have given the burger chain incredible visibility, but research shows that it isn’t the rule of thumb brands should be following on social media.

According to a customer survey of 1,000 social media consumers conducted by Sprout Social, customers appreciate Honest, Friendly, and Helpful responses from brands more than Funny, Trendy, Politically Correct, or least of all, Snarky responses.

social media, social, media, facebook, twitter, instagram, brands, brand personlity, marketing, digital marketing, customer research, consumers, consumer research, wendy's, wendys

Image: Sprout Social

According to the results, even though snarky comments or humorous exchanges may give brands increased visibility, this behavior will not correlate to sales.

Brand personality conveys to your customers your values, priorities, and loyalties, and if these do not line up with what the customer is expecting, it will not contribute towards building any sort of connection or relationship.

Some attempts at brands adopting a ‘cool’ persona can fall flat on their face. An area that seems to be fair game though, is pop culture, as two-thirds of respondents liked cultural commentary or world events.

While using video clips, responding to customer questions, and joining conversations are all safely in the ‘cool’ category, using slang, political discourse, and making fun of customers were firmly in the ‘annoying’ side of the spectrum, at the very bottom of the list.

According to the survey, 71% of respondents thought that political commentary from brands comes across as annoying rather than engaging in civil discourse, such as the 2016 U.S. Presidential election which dominated the American news cycle last year. Additionally, almost 70% of people thought that brands using slang is aggravating.

Based on the survey, 51% of annoyed consumers will unfollow a brand immediately, and 23% would go to the lengths of boycotting the brand entirely. Interestingly, while 75% of the respondents say they liked brands that use humor, only 36% would actually buy from brands they find funny.

It’s a rough world out there, so what’s a brand to do?

Being responsive to questions (48%), putting out promotions (46%) and providing good educational content (42%) seems to be the most standard answer.

social media, social, media, facebook, twitter, instagram, brands, brand personlity, marketing, digital marketing, customer research, consumers, consumer research, wendy's, wendys

Image: Sprout Social

At the end of the day, you’re focused on your ROI beyond anything else. If you’re in an industry where brand personality isn’t of much consequence (e.g. government agencies, financial institutions, universities), there’s really no point in displaying your personality as 33% of consumers wouldn’t care. But 54% would care very much if you’re in the Media/Entertainment industry, for instance.

So it’s not mandatory for you to be clever or funny to bring in customers, especially when your company just isn’t at the point yet where you can risk alienating certain audiences. But what does seem to work consistently, is giving them what they’re asking for: responsive, helpful, and honest customer care.

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