“Fanning out” when it comes to brands and social media engagement.

Social media may well be taking the famous 90-9-1 principle of online engagement … and bringing it to new lows.

It’s hard not to come to this conclusion when reviewing the results of research conducted by the Ehrenberg-Bass Institute for Marketing Science. This Australian-based University think-tank studied the actual engagement levels of people who have “liked” the top 200 brands on Facebook by considering the degree to which fans actually shared posts or commented on the brand.

Over a six-week period of study, Ehrenberg-Bass found that fewer than one half of one percent of the brand fans actually “engaged” in any way at all.

The conclusion? It turns out that social media fan bases and actual engagement are two very different things.

Categories that do somewhat better in “engagement” are ones like alcohol, cars and electronics. But interestingly enough, the study also found that the so-called “passion” brands – such as Harley-Davidson, Porsche or Nike – don’t perform much better than “regular” brands: 0.66% engagement versus 0.35%.

In its report conclusions, Ehrenburg-Bass questions whether the Herculean efforts being made by some brands to “bribe” their way to thousands of “fans” and “likes” is really worth the cost in terms of the added product discounts, coupons and other goodies that are being proffered to entice consumers to become brand fans.

When you boil it down, the Ehrenburg-Bass research confirms yet again a basic truism about branding: Much as we would love to think otherwise, the marketplace isn’t nearly as enamored with our brands and products as we think they should be.

To us, the branding so important. To them … it’s just one big shrug of the shoulders.

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