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Consumers want better experiences, deeper engagement, and more value from brands through social media

Filed under: All Articles > Industry News
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By: NMK Created on: February 4th, 2012
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CMO Council study reveals opportunities abound for companies to create business advantage and maximize advocacy by better engaging customers with social media. By Crystal Berry.

By Crystal Berry

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 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 do will create business advantage for their brands, while those who do not advance their social experiences will quickly fall behind their competition.

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. But there is also a cost to social business as consumers expect exclusive savings, entertainment, and open engagements with the brands they embrace.

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 incentivising 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)

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. Only 3 percent declare the engagement 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.

“These findings clearly illustrate that a gap exists in what consumers want from the brands they follow through social media and what they’re getting from the companies they follow,” said Katy Keim, Lithium Chief Marketing Officer. “Brands who take the step and give their social customers useful and engaging online experiences, chances to connect with each other, and special rewards and status will clearly gain business advantages and pull away from their competitors in 2012.”

About the author and the CMO Council

Crystal Berry is PR at the Chief Marketing Officer (CMO) Council, which is dedicated to high-level knowledge exchange, thought leadership and personal relationship building among senior corporate marketing leaders and brand decision-makers across a wide-range of global industries. The CMO Council's 6,000 members control more than $300 billion in aggregated annual marketing expenditures and run complex, distributed marketing and sales operations worldwide. In total, the CMO Council and its strategic interest communities include more than 20,000 global executives in 110 countries covering multiple industries, segments, and markets. Regional chapters and advisory boards are active in the Americas, Europe, Asia Pacific, Middle East, and Africa. The CMO Council's strategic interest groups include the Coalition to Leverage and Optimize Sales Effectiveness (CLOSE), LoyaltyLeaders.org, Marketing Supply Chain Institute, Customer Experience Board, Market Sense-Ability Center, Digital Marketing Performance Institute, GeoBranding Center, and the Forum to Advance the Mobile Experience (FAME). More information on the CMO Council is available at www.cmocouncil.org.

About Lithium Technologies

The company builds brand nations for engaged customers. Having clients such as Best Buy, AT&T, Research In Motion Limited (RIM), Univision, and PayPal, Lithium aims to turn  customers' passion into marketing, product development, sales, and customer service assets. For more information, visit http://www.lithium.com, or Twitter, Facebook and its own nation – the Lithosphere. Lithium is privately held with headquarters in Emeryville, California.

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