We Want Your Opinion – Let Us Give It To You

More evidence the other day about the ongoing disconnect between brands and their customers in the social media space.  It’s always interesting how consumers say one thing and those folks at brands who are responsible for listening say something quite different when asked the same question.  Today’s evidence comes courtesy of the Chief Marketing Officer (CMO) Council via Econsultancy and I think it’s good for a smile, even if it’s kind of a sardonic one.  It has to do with the results of a recent study that dealt with reasons for social media interaction with brands.

As the article said:

The study, conducted by the CMO Council and social technology business Lithium, reveals a disconnect between what senior marketers think consumers want from social media, and the reality.

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 incentivizing 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.

Yikes.  For executives who are supposed to have their fingers on the pulse of their customers, these respondents must be wearing thick gloves.  It’s like the old rich guy who thinks the young girl is hanging around because he’s witty and charming.  He might be, but add “poor” to that mix and she’s gone (and I realize it could be an older woman and a young guy).  Your social media “fans” aren’t there because they love your content, great as it might be.  According to the study, they’re looking for information or discounts and if they’re wrapped in great content, so much the better.  But don’t mistake that interest, as expressed in social media interaction, with loyalty or devotion to your content.

This isn’t about who’s right – the customers want what they want.  It’s about how to present it effectively and carry on the conversation that’s ground zero of marketing in the digital age.  Are you listening?

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