A recently released Pivot Conference Report studied the rise of the social consumer, defined as an individual whose first impulse when learning about products or services is to turn to their social networks.
The statistics included in the report provide valuable information for any business engaged in social media marketing, especially when it comes to gaining a perspective on the various critical misinterpretations many online marketers are operating under.
Only Half The Companies Bothered To Ask
The report revealed that although 76.8% of all companies felt that they understood the motivations of their social consumers, nearly a quarter did not. However, this statistic has to be interpreted in the light of a subsequent survey question which found that only 34.8% of businesses had even bothered to ask their social marketing customers what the greatest benefit is which they expect to receive from their interaction.
The disconnect here between asking the question directly and assuming the knowledge is palpable as less than half of all the companies who stated they understood the motivations based their determination on unknown or indirect means.
Is Social For Sales Or Not?
The business owners and managers were asked which benefits they believed their social consumers are expecting from their brand engagement and the most popular answer at 59.1% was customer service, followed by insight to help make decisions at 57.5%; learn about new products at 53%; new deals and promotions at 52.5%; loyalty and rewards for engagement at 44.8%; exclusive content at 43.1%; and being a part of a branded community at 40.3%.
At the bottom of the list with a mere 10.5% was the ability to buy within social networks which is essentially the goal of any marketing effort.
There seems to be another significant chasm between the fundamental goal of the business which is making sales vs. the perception that social media participation is an end in itself. This factor is especially significant when you consider that when the same companies were asked what their primary goals for social marketing in 2012 are, they unanimously replied: increased sales!
78.2% Dont Relate It To Market Value
The other leading answers to the primary goals question were consumer engagement at 75.6%; lead generation at 73.9%; brand-lift at 71.4%; public relations at 59.7%; positive sentiment at 65.5%; influencing customer behavior at 64.7%; and improved customer service and support at 52.1%.
A strikingly low 21.8% replied that their primary goals included making a positive impact on the market value or stock price of their companies which again demonstrates a staggering split from conventional wisdom.
Every business school student is taught early on that the primary reason to manage a company properly is to maximize shareholder value, but with 78.2% of all companies involved in social consumerism strategies not considering this fundamental goal to any degree whatsoever it leads to the question of why theyre engaging in the process in the first place.
Obfuscation & Confusion
Companies were then asked which social networks their current social consumers utilize and it was there that the wheels literally came off the perception cart. 95% of all respondents replied Facebook which makes sense given that its not only the 800 pound gorilla in the market, but it has a million users for every pound.
Next in the list was Twitter at 89% and it is this figure which starts to show the incongruous aspects between the online marketers beliefs vs. reality. Twitter has barely over 100 million users, so to provide it with an expectation of participation which is roughly equivalent to Facebook is a major misperception. T
he businesses also claimed that Google+ was used by 42% of their social consumers which is yet another reality shift as the site is widely acknowledged to have approximately 40 million users.
One of the primary take-aways from the Pivot report is that social marketers are still in a somewhat obfuscated, confused state as pertains to the most basic aspects of their social strategies. In order to avoid falling into similar morasses of astigmatic market perspectives, online marketers should rely on hard data and metrics, not the seats of their pants.
Daniel Cassady is a freelance writer and frequent contributor to an Email Marketing Blog run by Benchmark Email.