Even More Proof of the Major Disconnect Between Brands and Consumers When It Comes to Social Media

steve olenski
Steve Olenski Sr Creative Content Strategist , Oracle Responsys

Posted on January 6th 2012

Even More Proof of the Major Disconnect Between Brands and Consumers When It Comes to Social Media

Back in December I shared results of a survey which revealed, among many other things, that marketers don't get it. They don't get why consumers want to engage and follow their brands in the social media space. Here's even more proof that brand managers and all marketers are failing to realize the real reason people interact with their brands via social media.

As anyone who's known me for five minutes or less knows that I am a huge fan of pop culture and I love to tie in pop culture references with the world of social media, advertising and marketing, hence my column for Marketing Profs not long ago May the Force Be With You: Movie Quotes & Social Media. It's obviously meant to take a lighthearted approach and look at social media and relate it to something most of us know and love - movies.

Taking creative license, I'll play the part of Col. Jessup and brand managers and marketers will play the part of Kaffee in the classic courtroom scene from the film A Few Good Men.

Steve: You want answers?
Marketers: I think I'm entitled to know the real reason people follow and like us in social media.

Steve: You want answers?
Marketers: I want the truth!

Steve: You can't handle the truth! Mr. Brand Manager and Ms. Product Marketer we live in a world where consumers don't give a damn about your content that you're sharing on your Facebook Wall or whatever it is your Tweeting about. What they care about is getting something in return for their loyalty, they care about coupons and promotions and exclusive offers... in other words social currency. They want to be rewarded for their loyalty.

I am of course simplifying this as the content you share on Facebook and Twitter, etc. does have value and needs to be engaging and interesting and relevant to your audience.

But... as I wrote in the post re: the aforementioned survey from the Chief Marketing Officer (CMO) Council and Lithium, there is a disconnect between what a marketer thinks and what a consumer really wants. 65% of consumers say they engage with brands in social media for games, promotions, contests and exclusive offers BUT only 33% of marketers surveyed thought that was the reason as more marketers (57%) were under the impression that it was the content they were generating that was the reason for consumers liking them.

More Proof Of The Major Disconnect Between Brands And Consumers When It Comes To Social Media

Yet another study, this one conducted by Chief Marketer, revealed the same disconnect:

















Do you see it?

59% of marketers in this survey think content is the key to engagement and way down in Part 2 at 39% you'll see the real reason consumers want to engage and follow: coupons, promotions, exclusive offers, etc. And even further down the list are coupons and discounts that can either be shared with their fellow consumers or available via a geo-location service such as FourSquare.

Brand managers, product marketers and marketers of all shapes and sizes, consumers are people and people are people which means they want something in return for their time, for their loyalty; they want something of value in exchange oh-so-valuable Like and Follow.

So the question to ask is what are you going to do about this?

What Mr. Brand Manager and Ms. Product Marketer are you going to do with this information?

What kind of "social currency" are your offering your customers and prospects?

How are you engaging them in the social media space?

Sources: Google Images, Chief Marketer

Steve Olenski is a freelance writer/blogger currently looking for full-time work. He has worked on some of the biggest brands in the world and has over 20 years experience in advertising and marketing. He lives in Philly and can be reached via emailTwitter LinkedIn or his website.

steve olenski

Steve Olenski

Sr Creative Content Strategist , Oracle Responsys

A regular contributor to Forbes, among other publications, Steve was named one of the Top 100 Influencers In Social Media (#41) by Social Technology Review and a Top 50 Social Media Blogger by Kred. He is currently a senior creative content strategist at Oracle Responsys. He is a also a member of the Editorial Board for the Journal of Digital & Social Media Marketing and co-author of the book StumbleUpon For Dummies. Follow him on Twitter@steveolenski or at the nearest coffee shop.The views expressed here are his own and do not necessarily reflect the views of Oracle Responsys.

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David Amerland
Posted on January 7th 2012 at 9:34AM

Steve, you make a valuable point here (again) and one which, I am afraid will have to be made again and again until the heat death of the universe or a fundamental change in the way we use social media (whichever comes first) occurs. 

The reason there is such a dosconnect lies in the 'What' rather than the 'Why'. Offers, coupons and discounts, promotions and competitions have been around ever since Claude Hopkins wrote 'Scientific Advertising' in 1923. We have known about the emotional connection in marketing since before the Romans left Judaea when graffiti artists used to make a living out of promoting specific taverns in their writing on the Roman city walls. Yet, mistakes occur (just very recently Rupert Murdoch's Tweet and PhoneDog Media's epic social media fail with the apparent theft of their Twitter account and 17,000 followers. 

The primary reason all this is happening has to do with fundamentals. Although social media is easy to understand as a concept, to work requires a complete shift of focus and the way things are done. Organisations and individuals who have adopted it on the fly as yet one more marketing channel in their repertoire, have not taken the time to either think it through or begin to understand how it applies to them. Hence the spate of horror stories I recounted in my Top Ten Social Media Disasters of 2011 video. Things will only get worse before they even start to get better.

Michael Pallante
Posted on January 11th 2012 at 10:07PM

One of my clients came to me initially with a months worth of sales they wanted to promote via social media. They had, of coure, registered their brand online months previous and forgot about it. When the account landed in my hands we had something to promote- sales, promotions, events and giveaways some of it even exclusive to the Internet! 

During that month I had some very impressive analytics to show them- but then the sales ended and they wondered why their numbers fell. There were really two reasons their numbers fell:

1. The draw of the sales was over and there was an anticipated falloff.

2. At the end of the sales? They stopped feeding me content of any kind whatsoever.

They really believed that simply by hiring me and having "a social media guy" that something was supposed to happen and that our community development project could exist in a vacuum. 

This story has a happy ending though- they were happy to listen and be educated and I've been able to work directly with the sales team on their shop's floor to generate content, real stories and the result has been fantastic. 

Alena Novosadová Stratilova
Posted on January 14th 2012 at 11:16AM
I agree with your article. Social media, social networks is only a matter image for companies.  Consumers see, the source of media visibility and expected return on investment - marketing ploy to increase site traffic. Real reason why people interact with their brands via social media is expectation. The consumer, marketer or normal user the are all influenced by advertising and promotion of these networks. It's simple. Social marketing - phenomenon of our time. According to the analysis, but the return on investment not to the liking of the consumer . The only way to increase return on investment is targeted marketing .