Marketers Misunderstand The Meaning Of Facebook Likes

Consumers and marketers have vastly different perceptions of and expectations about Facebook likes, which presents a problem for marketers who are slow to move, but an opportunity for those who pounce on it.

That’s based on a survey of more than 1,300 consumers and 132 senior marketers, conducted by Lithium and the Chief Marketing Officer Council.

The top three reasons why marketers believe consumers like their Facebook pages were:

  • Agreeable content, 57 percent;
  • They want to be heard, 41 percent; and
  • They want to track news on the brand and its products, 40 percent.

Meanwhile, the top three reasons consumers cited for liking Facebook pages were:

  • Because they are loyal customers, 49 percent;
  • Tracking news on the brand and its products, 46 percent; and
  • Seeking incentives or rewards for engaging with the brand, 46 percent.

Marketers did recognize the importance of rewards and incentives — 33 percent did — but not to the degree that consumers prioritized them.

The different perceptions on rewards and incentives were more obvious when both sides were asked what they expected from likes. Consumers’ top three responses were heavy on the goodies:

  • Exclusive offers, 67 percent;
  • Interacting with other customers and sharing experiences, 60 percent; and
  • Games, contests, and other unique experiences, 57 percent.

Marketers, meanwhile, said they respond to likes by:

  • Engaging in further conversation, 31 percent;
  • Fostering more community conversations, 30 percent; and
  • Allowing conversations to grow organically, 30 percent.

The CMO Council and Lithium conclude:

The bottom line is that 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. While 52 percent of marketers reported that they believe their brands have enjoyed greater influence thanks to their presence on social networks like Facebook, only 17 percent said that social media is fully meshed, aligned, and integrated into the overall marketing mix.

The gap between what consumers want and what they’re getting from brands online represents a timely opportunity for social business advantage. Online consumers are decidedly willing to act on behalf of the brands they love. Brands that give their social customers useful and engaging online experiences, a chance to connect with each other, and special rewards and status will pull away from the pack in 2012.


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