Are you targeting the right Social Animals?

Posted on Jan 7, 2016
Are you targeting the right Social Animals?

A recent survey* on the amount of engagement on social media generated by the top 100 best selling brands found little correlation between a brand’s sales ranking and its social engagement ranking. In fact brands that ranked highly on social engagement tended to be lower down the best-sellers list.

It also found that a large social media community size does not mean an increase in engagement with the brand. In fact the opposite appears to be true. The more followers a brand has, the less they seem to engage.

So why would this be the case?

It could be that lower selling brands are more intrinsically interesting to people – more of a personal choice or discovery. A choice that says more about you than buying the same large brand as everyone else.

But it may also be that smaller brands work harder on their social media content to generate engagement with the right people to make up for their smaller spend through other media channels.

So what does ‘work harder’ mean?

The key to generating engagement is, unsurprisingly, understanding how your target audience themselves engage with the Internet and then targeting the most engaged groups with appropriate content.

Here’s a pen portrait of seven types of ‘social animals’ based on their level of engagement with social media:


ALPHAS – they are the leaders, the broadcasters and agenda setters.

They’re very prevalent in community groups on Facebook for example.

GATHERERS – they forage digital space to gather content, stories and news to share through their social communities.

07. Gatherers

WATCHERS – they observe, quietly poring over content looking for like-minds and passive entertainment without making their presence felt.

06. Watchers

SOCIALISERS – they’re the ones desperate to be part of the gang and like to measure their popularity by the number of followers they have on Facebook and Twitter.

02. Networkers

GAMIFIERS – they love challenges that prove their prowess amongst their peers and make a conspicuous statement about their skills.

03. Gamers

SKIMMERS – they are time-poor, the headliners who look for the least amount of detail to keep them up-to-speed on what’s going on in their networks.

08. Skimmers

BUILDERS – these are content-generators, keen to publish their opinions and insights in well-crafted and considered ways. They’re a more nurturing version of the Alphas.

09. Builders



So which of these groups are the most important for brand marketing?

Well it’s unlikely to be the Watchers, Socialisers or Skimmers. They’re the ones following your brand but never engaging with it (or anyone else’s brand for that matter).

So let’s look at the type of content that is likely to engage the remaining groups – Alphas, Gatherers, Gamifiers and Builders – using an example from a major FMCG category where the Internet is becoming increasingly important.

Online purchase of pet products has more than doubled in the last two years to a high of 21%* purchasing and the top two amongst all brands for engagement on Facebook* are cat food brands – Whiskas and Felix.

Interestingly, Whiskas seem to be targeting ALPHAS and BUILDERS and Felix GATHERERS and GAMIFIERS.

Whiskas is known for brand causes (e.g. WWF Tiger’s Alive Campaign) and for sharing cat insights and facts from the WALTHAM® Centre for Pet Nutrition whose research underpins all the products that Whiskas make.

For the Tiger’s Alive Campaign, ALPHAS seem the obvious target for this type of content to get their attention and encourage them to promote the cause to their network. Cat insights and facts, on the other hand, are prime fodder for BUILDERS who will work them into their own content to share with their community.

By contrast, Felix is known for the amusingly disruptive behaviour of it’s animated cat character, which insightfully mirrors the clever cat behaviour we see in our homes – and reminds us why we love our cats so much!

Content with this real cat behaviour and personality focus is likely to be of great interest to the GATHERERS – they will need little prompting to add a personal touch and share it with their communities. The Felix brand idea is also used to attract the GAMIFIERS with amusing challenges on how to outwit your cat that they’ll want to share with their fellow gamers.

This is just one example – and few categories have the Internet power of cats to help them along the way! Nevertheless, as social media grows and social media owners start to charge brands for their participation, all leading brands need to be single-minded about which type of social animals they are targeting if they want to improve their social media engagement rankings.

* UK data