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UK to big brands: Get off our Facebook, mate!

Netizens spurn biz on social sites

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Nearly two-thirds of Britons would prefer big-name brands to stay off social networks, according to a new survey.

The crusty old Brits are the most bothered by advertising on Facebook, Twitter and the like, with 61 per cent of social network users saying they'd prefer not to engage with brands on social media, compared to 60 per cent in the US and 57 per cent across developed markets, research firm TNS said (PDF).

Online advertising is big business for web companies like Facebook and Google, but it has proved tricky to figure out where on the net people don't mind being advertised to and where it's going to annoy them.

Nevertheless, brands seem confident that online advertising is the way to go, with the market growing all the time.

Last month, the Internet Advertising Bureau said the UK's online ad spend grew 13.5 per cent to £2.26bn in the first half of 2011 and now accounted for over a quarter of all cash splashed on adverts in the country.

Apart from forking out for ads, the other favoured way for brands to get down with the kids and get some free-ish marketing out there is to have a page on social media and try to get people to like, follow or friend them.

But the TNS survey of 72,000 people worldwide found that brands were taking a risk on social networks by using a "catch-all approach that doesn't take the needs of different consumers into consideration" instead of targeting their ads/pages geographically.

In fast-growing internet markets in Africa, Asia and the Middle East, 59 per cent of social network users think the sites are a good place to learn about brands, compared to 54 per cent across the whole study.

Developed market users are also less likely to see social networks as a place to buy stuff, with only a quarter ready to put their hands in their pockets, while that stat rose to 48 per cent in fast-growing markets.

When brands do manage to get people onto their social media page, they're quite willing to interact with comments.

Somewhat surprisingly, the research firm found that people were slightly more likely to leave praise (13 per cent) than a complaint (10 per cent), although most people get involved to give advice to other prospective customers (46 per cent). ®

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