What do consumers want from social media?

A study from the Chief Marketing Officer (CMO) Council and social technology business Lithium has revealed a disconnect between what senior marketers think consumers want from social media, and the reality.

A divide between what marketers and consumers expect from brands

According to the 1,300-plus consumers surveyed online across the globe, there was a general expectation that a follow, like, a post, or a shown preference for a brand in a social media environment would enable:

  • Eligibility for exclusive offers (67%)
  • The opportunity to interact with other customers who share the same experiences (60%)
  • Access to games or contests (65%)


The 120 CMOs surveyed, however, thought differently. They believed that social engagement was more of a by-product of quality content and were less concerned with incentivising loyalty among their follower base. The CMOS believed that customers interact with brands because:

  • They want to be heard (41%)
  • They are looking for news or information about products (40%)

Only 33% believed that fans were looking for incentives or rewards.
Only 27% believed that customers seek special savings or experiences exclusive to followers.

Consumers like social, and want more

But things seem to still be going well enough despite the disconnect. Few consumers feel let down by their experiences with brands in social media. Only 3% declared social engagement ‘a total waste of time’.

However, there is still a lot of room for brands to up their social media efforts – a whole 40% of consumers want AND expect more from their favourite companies in this area. For example, consumers are discontented with the delayed customer service from brands through social media.

A call for faster customer service

The majority of consumers expect answers within 24 hours:

  • Only 12% are willing to wait days for the resolution of support issues
  • 22% want instant responses
  • 19% want resolution within hours

Unfortunately ‘social customer service’ is not too high on marketers’ list of priorities – many are still looking to solidify their social offering strategy. Only 4% of CMOs are leveraging social media to provide faster handling and better customer care.

The infographic below provides a good summary of the disconnect between consumer expectations and marketers’ provisions and highlights the opportunity with social media to drive word of mouth, engagement and loyalty – click for a larger version

FRANk media - Lithium the Digital Divide

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