Friend us on Facebook!

DiscoverForce5.comWe see this phrase all the time. But as we dive deeper into the motivations of social network users, we see folks connect with Brands for many different reasons.

I have a facebook friend that raves about a particular women’s clothing line. In my opinion, she’s a huge brand ambassador. So much so, that if I needed to purchase a woman’s clothing item for a gift, I’d check out their site. Before seeing my friend’s posts, I have never heard of this brand before. Her posts aren’t about deals or promotions, they’re about quality and style.

I thought about this from a brand perspective.

According to a Feb, 2011 Affluence Collaborative survey, wealthy internet users connect with brands on social networks for different reasons than the general population.

Among the general population, the main reason cited for connecting with brands on social networks was to receive deals and discounts. But this is a much lower priority for the wealthy. Their top reasons for following brands were due to a preexisting affinity for and a desire to be kept informed about the brand. (As a side note, the least-cited reason mentioned by all groups surveyed was to be entertained, suggesting that social media marketers still need to provide fans with value, even if it isn’t directly in the form of a coupon or sale.)

These findings coincide with earlier research from ExactTarget, which showed that a huge component of liking a brand on Facebook was due not just to an affinity, but as a means of self-expression for others to see. This promotional desire was more pronounced in Facebook users than Twitter followers or email subscribers. “Affluents” then, in their “love of the brands” they connect with, are largely acting as brand ambassadors.

Data from the study also reveals that the affluent aren’t using the same social networks as the general population. Facebook was the No. 1 social network used by all groups surveyed, but LinkedIn and Twitter attracted affluent internet users at nearly double the rate of the general population.

Our take away from the study?…. Any marketer targeting affluent consumers needs to know not only where to reach that audience, but what appeals to them. For wealthy internet users, connecting with a brand is largely about the brand itself, not gimmicks and offers. Affluents need to see a consistent message that makes following a brand meaningful for self-expression, just like when buying a brand in real life.

But I don’t think this idea just applies to the affluent—It’s the Brand ambassador we all want to be our friend. The person who “likes” us because of our brand-our quality, our customer service, our distinction in the marketplace.

Keep your brand consistent throughout all of your social media efforts. Your ambassadors, wealthy or not, expect it.