I have to say that this one came as a bit of a shocker for me: apparently 93% of American consumers want businesses on social media sites, according to the aptly-named 2008 Cone Business in Social Media Study. Odd, I thought when most Facebook users rebelled against Beacon, this was exactly what they didn’t want.
When asked whether businesses should interact with consumers on social media sites, 85% said yes (I guess the other 8% either subscribed to a “seen and not heard” school of thought).
Specifically, Americans believe:
- Companies should use social networks to solve my problems (43%)
- Companies should solicit feedback on their products and services (41%)
- Companies should develop new ways for consumers to interact with their brand (37%)
- Companies should market to consumers (25%) [I assume this means online or on social media sites, not just in general]
However, don’t expect that bending the will of the majority of consumers here will automatically earn their loyalty: 56% of American consumers “feel both a stronger connection with and better served by companies when they can interact with them in a social media environment.” (I guess the other 19% are still miffed even after a business wrote on their wall: “oops, sry about the crappy product. kthxbye!”)
On the other hand, two thirds of larger households (3+ people) and higher income households ($75,000+ annual income) do feel more loyalty to brands they interact with online. One third of younger consumers (18-34) feel that brands should actively market to them online (but when businesses do, via programs like Beacon, consumers will balk).
Cone’s director of new media, Mike Hollywood, explains the distinction here: “Americans are eager to deepen their brand relationships through social media. It isn’t an intrusion into their lives, but rather a welcome channel for discussion.” The discussion seems to be most welcome, of course, when businesses don’t force their messages on consumers, instead giving consumers the ability and the option to initiate the interactions on social media sites.
But don’t necessarily expect them to interact with you too much: a quarter of those surveyed (33% of men surveyed and 17% of women surveyed) “frequently” interacted with brands on social media sites, meaning at least once a week. Overall, 60% said they’d interacted with businesses on social media sites.
Cone doesn’t define social media sites in its release. I’d hope that this included at the least social networks, like MySpace and Facebook, and individual company blogs.