What Motivates Consumers to Follow Your Social Media Accounts?

May 24, 2016


Social media posting and interaction can be time-consuming. How can you make your efforts more focused, to motivate consumers to follow your brand, deepen the connection with your company and hopefully increase sales too?

The first step in understanding why customers follow your brand is to learn why shoppers, as a whole, follow social media accounts. According to an August 2015 Marketing Sherpa survey, there are many reasons consumers connect with brands on social media:



Highlights of the Consumer Survey

Wondering if using coupons or promotions on social media will help gain followers? The answer is a resounding “Yes!”. This is the number one reason (56%) for the consumers surveyed to follow social media.

In third place, at 44%, consumers said they follow media because there was an incentive (such as sweepstakes, discount or gift card).

Not surprisingly, 46% of folks connected to a brand’s social media account because they were interested in buying a brand’s products.

A fair amount (38%) of consumers follow brands due to useful content, and 31% follow them because of funny or entertaining content.

One of the least popular reasons to follow a brand was seeing their social media icon in email, on a website or in a print ad (16%).

Findings from the Consumer Survey, by Demographics

Are all consumers following social media for the same reasons? The answer is no!



Some of the highlights include:

  • Older folks use social media less and follow brands less. Of the 1,176 consumers surveyed, 74% of people aged 55-64 years and 71% of people aged 65 and older said they used social media, compared to 95% of 18-34 year olds, 92% of 35-44 year olds and 85% of 45-54 year olds. The older folks were also less likely to follow brands. Only 35% of 55-64 year olds and 35% of participants 65 years and older followed brands on social media, compared to 95% of 18-34 year olds, 92% of 35-44 year olds and 85% of 45-54 year olds.
  • Women (87%) use social media more than men (82%).
  • Parents are major social media users. They were more likely to use social media (93%) than non-parents (81%). Parents were also more likely to follow brands on social media (77%) compared to non-parents (49%).
  • Millennials (ages 18 to 34) like incentives! 48% of them follow social media brands for coupons and promotions, and 35% of them follow social media brands for sweepstakes, discounts or gift cards.
  • Interest in monetary incentives decreases with age. Consumers aged 35-44 also followed social media brands for coupons and promotions (35%) and for sweepstakes, discount and gift cards (29%), but the number keeps decreasing, with only 19% of consumers ages 55 and up following social media for coupons and promotions.
  • Content and seeing social media icons as a reason for follows is low across all age groups, especially the older consumers.

Disconnect Between Marketers and Consumers

In a September 2015 Marketing Sherpa study offering details on the ways marketers try to get social media followers, the findings were very different from the consumer survey:



The vast majority of marketers surveyed (78%) said their top way to gain followers was to create useful content such as how-to articles, reviews and tip sheets. In addition, more than half (61%) said they also prominently display social media icons in their marketing communications like emails, print ads and websites.

Providing incentives such as a sweepstakes or discount were offered by 30% of the marketers, and 19% shared regular coupons and promotions.


These findings show that consumers are motivated to follow brands on social media mainly by incentives, while marketers focus their efforts on producing useful content to attract followers.

eCommerce companies, especially those with younger customers, might want to consider revising their social media follow policy, or at least testing out using incentives more often, to see if their reach is extended by making changes.


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