I was fascinated to see this chart in Jacob Morgan’s review of IBM’s recent report From Social Media to Social CRM. On the left you’ve got the answers from consumers (aka “people”) listing the reasons they interact with companies via social media, and on the right you’ve got the reasons that companies think we interact with them.
According to companies, the primary reason we interact with them on Facebook, Twitter and forums etc. is to “learn about new products” and to get “general information”. It turns out, however (and this may not come as a shock to anyone who’s been active in Facebook marketing in recent years) that the real reason we interact with companies because we want a “discount” or we want to “purchase” something.
When asked whether they felt people wanted discounts or to buy things, companies apparently ranked these as the very last reasons people would connect with them via social media. Granted, the percentage points are small, but that’s amazing! The scale of misconception is quite staggering.
What’s going on here?
It seems to me that businesses are applying internal logic to social media. They see the primary benefits of social media being (a) a new platform for sharing information and (b) an opportunity to gather feedback – so these are listed as the reasons they think people will interact with them. Most consumers, however, aren’t fussed about using social media for what it was intended or what it’s best at. In relation to businesses we see it as just another means of getting offers, buying stuff and grabbing freebies.
Equally telling, perhaps, is the finding that people don’t want to “feel part of a community” or “feel connected” when they interact with a brand. I know there are wonderful niche communities of brand advocates out there, but even they tend to rely on gaming (i.e. rewards) to incentivise their members into action. Again, most of us don’t want or expect brands to provide community: we just want their coupons. Or am I being overly cynical?