Consumers want a better experience, deeper engagement & more value from Brands through Social Media.

Consumers are positively engaged and highly loyal to the brands they choose to follow and “like” on social networking sites like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and others. But according to the findings of the Chief Marketing Officer (CMO) Council’s new “Variance in the Social Brand Experience” study, consumers also have high expectations that social brands will offer unique experiences, savings, promotions, and even games as part of their social engagement.

The CMO Council research targeting both marketers and consumers was conducted in partnership with Lithium, a leading provider of Social Customer Solutions. The findings challenge marketers to better understand cognitive, behavioral, and attitudinal dynamics as they seek to integrate social media into their overall marketing mix. Those who provide advanced social experiences will be able to leap forward by creating a competitive business advantage.

The online study reveals that while 52 percent of the 120-plus marketers surveyed say their brands have enjoyed greater influence thanks to their presence in social networks, only 17 percent said that social media is fully meshed, aligned, and integrated into the overall marketing mix.

The study also reveals that consumers value their social brand engagements and are increasingly turning to peer communities for reviews, conversations, shopping selections, product assistance, and lifestyle advice. Furthermore, brands that provide exclusive savings, entertainment, and open engagements will be well-received and appreciated by consumers.

According to the 1,300-plus consumers surveyed, there is an expectation that a brand “follow,” “like,” “posting,” or preference in social media will enable the member to:

– Be eligible for exclusive offers (67 percent)
– Have the opportunity to interact with other customers who share a consumer’s own experiences (60 percent)
– Gain access to games and contests (65 percent)

Yet marketers believe that social engagement is more of a byproduct of quality content and are less concerned with incenting loyalty among their followers. According to marketers surveyed, customers like or engage because they:

– Want to be heard (41 percent)
– Are looking for news or information about products (40 percent)

Most notably, 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.

“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,” said Liz Miller, Vice President of Marketing Programs for the CMO Council. “Social can garner significant influence and pull for marketers who can bridge this gap in expectation and execution.”

Few consumers feel let down by their social brand experiences as only 3 percent declare the engagements are a “total waste of time.” What’s more, a full 40 percent of consumers want and expect more from their favorite social brands.

Consumers are also eager to turn to peer communities for support and believe that great support actually keeps them loyal to a brand. In fact, more consumers are intentionally going online to connect with other fans (25 percent) or share positive experiences (32 percent). But there is growing disquiet among consumers faced with delayed support response from brands.

The majority of consumers expect answers within 24 hours; only 12 percent are willing to wait days for resolution of support issues; 22 percent of consumers want instant gratification; and 19 percent 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 percent of marketing respondents are leveraging social media to provide faster handling and better customer care.

“There is a clear digital divide between marketers and what consumers expect from their brands,” said Katy Keim, Lithium Chief Marketing Officer. “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.”

To download the report CLICK HERE.


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