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SOCIAL MEDIA NEWS: Marketers warned of the Rules of Engagement

Over three-quarters of people under the age of 35 welcome brands on social networking sites but over half would consider leaving a site if it became too commercial says web analytics and marketing specialists Webtrends.

The Rules of Engagement survey found that over two thirds of Twitter users expect brands using social media to understand customers, while over half expect brands to provide better service for those customers, involve users in the design of future goods and services and discuss market issues.

Two thirds of Twitter users also expect brands to draw attention to new products and initiatives.

Businesses bombarding social networkers with sales offers are a concern for users - 39% complain there is too much advertising social networking sites and half of respondents say they would leave a social networking site if it became too commercial.

However half of Twitter users reveal a brand has successfully interacted with them through social media, compared to 31% of Facebook users.

Of those who have interacted in some way with a brand over social media, three in four reveal they think more highly of the brand as a result.

Steve Berry, digital publicity manager Channel 4, comments, "Social networks perceived as meritocracies where "social capital" has to be earned and personality, activity, impact and individuality all contribute.

"When a brand does surface, there is a tendency for it to adopt a corporate identity, which can be off-putting to the consumer. Offline popularity does count towards online social capital, but hiding behind a logo or an entire communications team will have a negative effect."