Consumers want ‘free stuff’ from social, marketers think they ‘want to be heard’

According to the 1,300-plus consumers surveyed online globally, there was found to be an expectation that a brand follow, like, post or preference in a social media environment would enable a person to; be eligible for exclusive offers (67%), have the opportunity to interact with other customers who share the same experiences (60%) and gain access to games or contests (65 %). When the same question was asked to over 120 CMOs, the results were very different. The CMOs surveyed believed that social engagement is more of a by-product of quality content, and are less concerned with incentivising loyalty among their followers.   According those surveyed, customers interact with brands because they; want to be heard (41 %) or are looking for news or information about products (40%) Only 33% believe their fans are looking for incentives or rewards, and only 27% believe customers are seeking special savings or experiences exclusive for followers. “There is a clear divide between what marketers and consumers expect from their brands,” said Katy Keim, Lithium’s CMO.

We are leaving the experimentation phase of social and these survey results clearly illustrate what consumers want. Brands who provide their social customers with engaging online experiences, meaningful interactions with one another, and rewards for doing so will clearly gain a decisive competitive advantage in 2012.”

Similar findings were uncovered by ExactTarget recently, which released research into the motivations for handing over an email, liking a brand on Facebook or following on Twitter. In the UK, ‘stuff’ also seemed to be the main driver, with the top two reasons for handing over an email highlighted as receiving discounts or money-off promotions (52%) and receiving ‘free stuff or giveaways’ (44%). For Facebook, it’s the same case, with the top two reasons to like a brand in the UK to receive discounts being the same. We also found similar results in a Facebook consumer survey conducted earlier this year. Yet despite this disconnect, few consumers felt let down by their experiences with brands in social media. Only 3% declared social engagement a “total waste of time”, and a full 40% consumers want and expect more from their favorite companies in this area. The research also revealed a growing sense of discontent among consumers faced with delayed customer service from brands through social media. The majority of consumers expect answers within 24 hours; only 12% are willing to wait days for resolution of support issues; 22% want instant gratification and 19% are looking for resolution within hours. Unfortunately, ‘social service’ is not high on the list of priorities for marketers still looking to solidify their social strategy. In fact, only 4% of CMOs were leveraging social media to provide faster handling and better customer care. Lithium details more findings of the study with the CMO Council in the infographic below. (Click on image for a larger version) Vikki is News Editor for Econsultancy. You can follow her on Twitter.

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