Already on Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest? Then you have taken the first baby steps to understanding what your consumers expect. The crucial part of being commercially successful on social networks, however, isn’t just to have a profile or account. Obviously. It’s to understand how your consumers expect to communicate with you, expect you to add value to their social network experience, and how you can combine your consumers’ wants with your own interests. However, with the maturity of social media and the use thereof, what consumers want has changed over the years. I will take a look at what consumers expect today.
In a recent report from Get Satisfaction, the expectations of this so-called 2nd generation of social media consumers versus the actions of brands have been sized and measured to give a status of how brands navigate in the landscape of social networks. A landscape that holds a promise of great marketing potential to brands if approached correctly.
The main difference between social media consumers previously versus today is in the nature of their expectations towards brands’ interaction and participation in communities on social networks.
Nurturing a community
According to the report, 50% of today’s consumers have a strong preference for “Branded Customer Communities”, e.g. Facebook pages with a huge emphasis on user interaction and a decreased focus on direct product engagement.
Consumers do not join a Facebook community to learn more about a product from the mouth of the brand per se. Instead, they join the community to receive brand relevant content, to join in on the brand image – and potentially to hear the community members’ opinion on the product. This means that when considering whether to buy a product or not, consumers today will not initially search the brand’s Facebook page for information. Not surprisingly, they are much more likely to do a general Google search to find forums with consumer reviews on the specific product. At least, this is the initial step in the conscious part of the information search.
Why they choose you!
This does not mean that your brand’s Facebook page isn’t part of the decision process at all when it comes to buying products. On the contrary! Today, consumers will use your Facebook page to look for relevant content, the level of customer care and interaction between the fans and the brand, as a way to determine whether they want to buy into the brand image. According to an infographic by Conversocial for Zendesk, 50% of the consumers would not buy a company’s product, if they found that customer service and care on the Facebook page was lacking:
Where consumers previously were easier to impress with shiny brand pages and pretty product photos, today they want a community that gives them something extra. It is much more question of give and take, push and pull, between brand and customers than merely just brands pushing product information to consumers. Consumers want both content that can help build their own social identity and they expect to enter into a direct dialogue with a brand through social networks. And they expect the brands to respond! Responding to your fans’ questions and complaints is therefore not just a question of general community maintenance, but also a question of growing the community and thereby the power of Word of Mouth that spreads throughout your fans’ news feeds. According to the report, 58% of consumers have liked a Facebook page they noticed through their friends’ Facebook activity.
Despite this demand for direct interaction and customer care on the social networks, the Zendesk survey participants also drew a pattern of fans being very easily satisfied in terms of brand effort. As the numbers show, though consumers today expect brand engagement and interaction, they are not looking for looooong explanations or remorseful apologies. They simply want to be acknowledged by the brand:
Concluding on the social media users of today, the importance of meeting their expectations of relevant brand interaction is key. Consumers focus on the community aspect of social networks more than ever before, so if you want to be a success, you have to show that you are willing to add value to the community members. If you want your fans or followers to contribute something to your community (e.g. word of mouth to their network), as a brand you need to commit to the community as well. Acknowledge your community and engage!