The Major Disconnect Between Brands and Consumers When It Comes to Social Media

steve olenski
Steve Olenski Sr Creative Content Strategist , Responsys

Posted on December 22nd 2011

The Major Disconnect Between Brands and Consumers When It Comes to Social Media

A survey conducted by the Chief Marketing Officer (CMO) Council and Lithium, a social media tech firm, revealed a huge divide between what marketers think consumers want vs. what consumers really want when it comes to social media. 

Querying over 1,300 consumers and over 120 CMOs and titled the “Variance in the Social Brand Experience” study, "... the findings challenge marketers to better understand cognitive, behavioral, and attitudinal dynamics as they seek to integrate social media into their overall marketing mix."

Well, based on the findings brand marketers, product managers, chief marketing officers and on down the line have a long way to go to " to better understand (the) cognitive, behavioral, and attitudinal dynamics" of their customers for consumers are speaking loud and clear as to what it is they want in exchange for connecting with a brand on social media.

This question was posed to consumers...

the star group

There is another chart which shows the responses to the question "Why do you like a brand on Facebook?" and 67% of the respondents said they do so to get exclusive offers. 

People are connecting with brands on social media because they expect something in return. 

Liz Miller, Vice President of Marketing Programs for the CMO Council...

“The social brand explosion has created a wave of loyalty among social consumers who are eager to show their support and share their experiences with others online, but this loyalty comes at a cost—from savings to games—that consumers see as their social currency. Social can garner significant influence and pull for marketers who can bridge this gap in expectation and execution.”

From the looks of things not many CMOs and marketers are putting enough weight to the idea of social currency...

the star group

As you can see nearly 60% of CMOs believe people like their brand or follow them on social media because they like the content they are sharing, while only 33 percent believe their fans are looking for incentives or rewards, and only 27 percent believe customers are seeking special savings or experiences exclusive for followers.

See the disconnect now? 

From the findings...

"Social customers not only want but expect to be rewarded for connecting with brands online, and there are a variety of ways to go about satisfying them. Special offers and promotions bring new customers into the fold while the chance for increased status, privilege, or rank keeps them engaged and motivates them to contribute more.  

A mere 7 percent of marketers report that they reward their most active online contributors, which creates an open playing field for those who gamify the social customer experience in 2012; marketers should give social customers something to work for and a reason to level up. Socially savvy brands will reward social customers with greater status and privileges not just for their likes, but for a full range of beneficial behaviors—from voting on product ideas to blogging about a technical solution.
 
Those who see the most social success in 2012 will have something for everyone, offering multiple paths to success. While some social customers are product experts, others are friendly and welcoming, and still others are good at getting conversations started. Each is a valuable member of the complex ecosystem that is a brand community, each has something to offer, and each expects to be rewarded for their contribution."
 
Here's one more chart I want to share which speaks to the need for social currency... this one was posed to consumers:
 
the star group
 
See what this chart above is saying loud and clear? The key word is "new" as in "... new ways I'm using social media." Consumers now have the expectation of being rewarded. They are coming to the social media party with the expectation to be rewarded and if a brand is not rewarding them, there are others in that "open playing field" mentioned above that will gladly take their place. 
 
Ok Brand Managers and Product Managers and CMOs and anyone else in a marketing role...
 
What do you say to all of this? 
 
What do take away from it?
 
How are you rewarding your customers currently?
 
How are you integrating social media into your overall marketing mix?
 
Sources: Chief Marketing Council, Google Images, The Star Group

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 , Responsys

Named one of the Top 100 Influencers In Social Media (#41) by Social Technology Review and a Top 50 Social Media Blogger by Kred, Steve Olenski is a senior creative content strategist at Responsys, a leading marketing cloud software and services company, and a member of the Editorial Board for the Journal of Digital & Social Media Marketing. He can be reached via TwitterLinkedIn or Email

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