Razorfish’s Liminal study, just released, is the most important social media study so far in this new year. Why? Because it looks at social media engagement from the consumer’s perspective, asking questions of users to tell us what matters to them–not what marketing directors think matters to them. Here’s what the study reveals that you need to know, and my analysis of what it means for your online strategy:
Consumers interacting with brands care most about: Feeling Valued, Efficiency, and Trust in the company. Less important but in the top six are: Consistency and Relevance of messaging, and Control over it. They use the channels that best meet their goals.
If you prefer, you can watch the video, instead.
1. All six items are important across all age groups, but younger users cared more about feeling Valued, Efficiency, and Trust.
Takeaway: As always, know your target customer and tailor your engagement efforts to them.
2. Facebook, Twitter, and geo-location services are not viewed as important ways to engage with brands.
Takeaway: The website remains of central importance, and email isn’t going away despite predications to the contrary. As discussed in my post 6 Tips for Building Trust with Consumers, it’s also important to nuture reviews on review sites. And Search remains critical.
3. Consistency is important, the definition being “when customers feel a company is uniform in things such as policy, attitude, communication, and messaging.”
Takeaway: Companies will need to educate their individual employees who are engaged digitally or socially for the company, to make sure the message is consistent. They need to make sure marketing, PR, customer service, and all customer-facing parts of the organization are coordinated and communicating with one another, while working with relative autonomy. Keeping in mind the findings from Edelman’s Trust Barometer, they need to do what they can to nurture consistent messaging from analysts and experts outside the company.
4. Consumers want Efficiency in their interactions.
Takeaway: Companies need to take a UX (user-experience) perspective. Look at each customer touchpoint and determine what the audience wants and how to provide it most efficiently. Design for the interaction. This means that every company MUST have a good mobile story. That doesn’t just mean hat tthe website can be viewed on a mobile device–it means the user sees a different mobile website optimized for the right mobile tasks.
5. Engagement must be Relevant to the customer. Relevance means “when a customer feels messaging from a company is interesting and applicable to their needs.”
Takeaway: Personalization will become more critical. Note that Control was the least important issue for engagement. When interactions and content are consistently relevant, people are less concerned about privacy, control, and opting in. We will see continued innovation in the ability to identify the desires of individual consumers–either explicitly or implicitly–and delivering on those desires in a timely manner.
6. Trust is critical. Trust is “when customers feel confident that a company is credible, and will handle engagements honestly, sincerely and transparently.”
Takeaway: Look to Edelman’s Trust Barometer for keys to trust. Note that the ability to connect with individuals in the company is one key. Companies must nurture their employees and grow them to be good ambassadors.
7. Users want Control. They “want to give companies permission to be in touch with them up front; conversely, they want to opt out when they are done engaging.”
Takeaway: Design interactions on all the channels to provide users with the ability to opt-out. Be transparent and set expectations with users re: engagement. Take advantage of the opportunity to make consumers feel valued by giving them ways to rate and provide feedback when exerting control, opting out, etc. Use smart personalization to negate the user’s need to opt-out.
8. Facebook and Twitter aren’t good for conversations and relationships. Despite all the talk about “conversations” and “relationships,” these popular social networks aren’t good for building one-to-one relationships between brands and consumers. With the exception of LinkedIn, they didn’t help build Trust or make consumers feel Valued.
Takeaway: Forget trying to foster one-on-one relationships with consumers via these channels. It’s not what consumers want from them. Again, take a UX (user-experience) approach. Understand your audience in these communities, know what they want, and then design social offers that provide what they want, while benefiting your company. These platforms can still be good for word-of-mouth, with the right strategy.
(All graphics and quotes courtesy of the Razorfish’s Liminal study. Takeaways are my assessment and opinion.)
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