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The new digital divide: consumer expectations vs brands activities in social media

A study (.pdf) from the CMO Council of 1,300 consumers and 132 senior marketers revealed a profound difference between what consumers want from brands in social media, and what marketers think they want.

The bottom line?

[...] consumers want more — more experiences, more engagement, more rewards, and more reasons to connect with each other and brands through social media. And brands are missing the boat. They see the benefits of reaching out to customers through social channels, but they aren’t yet fully invested.

The report sees 4 ways to narrow that gap:

  1. Enable peer-to-peer interactions. 9% of brands think their Facebook fans want to connect with each other. 60% of consumers say they like brands on Facebook in order to connect with other brands. Your consumers want to talk to each other. Make it easy for them - open a forum, put Q&A on your Facebook page, launch a customer community.
  2. Get serious about social support. 63% of consumers search online for others with similar problems when they need help - 19% of brands think that's the case. 47% of consumers expect a response to an online service request in 1 hr - 30% of brands use social media to improve service and responsiveness. 50% of consumers expect to find service and support on Facebook - 10% of brands provide it. Consumers want to help and get help from other customers and they do a bang up job of it. It costs between $6 and $75 to resolve customer issues over the phone. It costs as as little as $.05 to help customers find answers online. Social support is a no-brainer for 2012.
  3. Ideate with social customers. 41% of social customers expect to share product ideas on Facebook. 9% of brands ask customers to help them innovate on Facebook. With few brands actively asking fans for feedback and ideas, smart marketers can leap ahead in 2012 by running idea exchanges - and you'll get a real-time, always on focus group that will drive better, faster innovation for the brand.
  4. Gamify the social experience. 67% of consumers expect special treatment when they like a brand on Facebook. 7% of brands reward their most active contributors. 46% of consumers expect incentives and rewards when they connect with brands online. 7% of brands offer social customer incentives and rewards. Give social customers something to work for, a reason to level up. Reward them for their contributions, give them rank and reputation, let them take it with them as the move about the social web.