Despite concerns over its privacy and user-control policies, Facebook has the most loyal and engaged users, according to a new report.
For the first time, Brand Keys included social media in its 15th annual Customer Loyalty Index, Robert Passikoff, founder and president, told InformationWeek. The study, which interviewed consumers aged 18 to 65, was open-ended, and users were not prompted to name the social networks they used. In addition to Facebook, the most frequently named social media sites named included MySpace, LinkedIn, Flickr, and Twitter, according to Brand Keys.
"In order to be able to understand loyalty and engagement with a brand, it's not just based on awareness. Everybody knows the Gap and they've been a death spiral of same-store sales for years now," Passikoff said in an interview. "You have to meet or exceed the expectations that people hold for the ideal of the category. It's hard for people to articulate precisely what they want or think of these kinds of categories."
The study used diagnostics such as self-image, or how those polled view themselves; ease of connection; security and control; and brand value and content, to determine social networks' placement. With the exception of LinkedIn, all other social media sites performed relatively poorly in security and control, Passikoff said.
"When we look at aspects regarding content, you wouldn't be surprised that Flickr does a little bit better because that's all it is," said Passikoff. "When you look and you see something with LinkedIn, the ease of connection is rated really high."
Brand Keys -- which works with businesses such as Ann Taylor, the National Hockey League, and Toyota -- provides brand equity and customer loyalty metrics to clients, and did not disclose the numerical results of its report. The company melds psychological research and statistical analysis to help brands understand the emotional and rational decision-making process, he said.
Today, more brands are exploring social media, Passikoff said. "We're working with more clients on where they should look to associate their brands. A lot of people think they need to be everywhere that anyone is. The answer is not so much," he said. "There are ways that you can look at a category and be able to understand whether or not it is reinforcing my brand value or not. Buzz comes in two frequencies: Good and bad."
In fact, 50% of businesses reported that social networks made them more successful in the last year, according to a study by SugarCRM.