Social Expectations - Consumers are Looking for Better Interaction

Ryan Moede, Former Viget

Article Category: #Strategy

Posted on

The last two weeks have led to some interesting insights into consumer’s expectations of how they want to interact with brands.

From Technorati’s State of the Blogosphere, which reported that 4 in 5 bloggers write about their experiences – good or bad – with a company or product, to Cone’s report that an overwhelming majority of Americans (85%) active on blogs and other social media services expect to interact with companies through social media.

Add to this the Society for New Communications Research findings that nearly three-quarters of respondents choose retailers and products based on others’ customer care experiences posted online, and the data stacks up in favor of the necessity for brands to understand how to identify their customers online and interact with them on the consumers’ terms. The study goes on to say that among the most trusted sources of information are “online rating systems, discussion forums and blogs as the forms of social media consumers believe are the most valuable sources of information.

Leading online resources of customer care experiences among US internet users

This data continues to confirm the need for brands to find relevant ways to participate with their customers online.

  • Men are twice as likely than women interact frequently (one or more times per week) with companies via social media (33% vs. 17%).
  • One-third of younger, hard-to-reach consumers (age 18-34) believe  that companies should actively market to them via social networks.
  • The wealthiest households (household income of $75K+) also believe that companies should seek to reach them via social media.
  • Two-thirds of the wealthiest households and the largest households ( those with three or more members) feel stronger connections to brands they interact with online.

And while trends continue to toss brands and consumers together in a chaotic online mix, few companies understand how to identify, listen and thoughtfully connect with their consumers. In fact, Adam Sarner with Gartner predicts that more than 75 percent of Fortune 1000 companies online will attempt to improve their customer relations through social media but at least half will fail. Why?

"(Businesses) will rush to the community and try to connect, but essentially they won't have a mutual purpose, and they'll fail," Sarner said. By a "mutual purpose," he means a way to serve both the company putting out the campaign and the audience interacting with it."

In other words, even though consumer are coming to expect interacting with brands through social media, they are only going to do so if it serves their own goals and needs. Social media marketing needs to be more about the consumer and community than the brand itself.

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