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Social Media Payoff for Brands, but 'Friends' Finicky


Companies that deliver high-quality customer experiences via new media are rewarded for their efforts, often in the form of higher brand awareness and likelihood to purchase among those who engage, but that loyalty can be hard to find and hard to keep, according to a survey from Cone.

Consumers are more open than ever to engaging with companies via new media: 86% of surveyed new media* users say they interact with brands online, up from 78% who said so in 2009. Even so, new media users still choose to associate with only 4.6 brands on average (via friending, following, or subscribing to RSS feed).

Financial incentives are still biggest attraction for consumers connecting with brands. New media users expect deals and coupons (77%), but also look to brands to help them solve problems (46%) and solicit their feedback on products and services (39%).

Only 21% of new media users expect to be marketed to via their new media relationships with brands.

To find coupons and special offers, most consumers turn to a brand's social networking site (46%). But as new media use grows, so too do the myriad of touch points, including mobile devices (20%), message boards (20%), photo-, audio- or video-sharing sites (13%), blogs (13%), online games (12%), and microblogs (4%).

Below, other findings from the 2010 Cone Consumer New Media Study.

Why Users Stop Following Brands

Most new media users (59%) say they're satisfied with their online experiences with brands, but users won't hesitate to disengage if satisfaction wanes: 58% of new media users will stop following a company if it acts irresponsibly toward consumers and 58% will disengage if a brand over-communicates with them (58%).

More than one-half of new media users say they'll disengage if brands send them irrelevant content (53%), under-communicate with them (36%), or censor user-generated content (28%).

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Brands Benefit from Engagement

Some 62% of new media users who engage with brands via new media say they are more likely to share information about the company across their own social networks and 59% are more likely to purchase the company's products and services.

Over three in five (61%) say they feel a stronger connection to the company and 60% feel better served by the brand.

*New media refers to social networking, blogs, microblogs, message boards, photo-, audio- or video-sharing sites, online games, news feeds, and content served via mobile devices.

About the research: The 2010 Cone Consumer New Media Study is based on an online survey conducted September 9-10, 2010 by ORC among a demographically representative sample of 1,050 US adults comprising 505 men and 545 women age 18+. 

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  • by Meghan Mon Nov 15, 2010 via web

    Thank you for an insightful article; it comes at an important time for marketers, and I greatly appreciate your careful analysis and input.

    "Financial incentives are still biggest attraction for consumers connecting with brands. New media users expect deals and coupons (77%), but also look to brands to help them solve problems (46%) and solicit their feedback on products and services (39%)."

    I particularly appreciated this statistic about consumers; as a social media marketer, I can definitely agree that reaching an audience with high expectations for satisfaction and reward requires dedication and attention to detail.

    Our customers depend on us as a reliable source for information, as a means of communicating questions, issues, or suggestions, and of course as a means of saving time and money. Everyone loves a deal, and it certainly takes strategy and a good understanding of the marketing industry to achieve one of the hardest-won successes of the job: maintaining your fans and customers after winning them over initially.

    Whether social media or age-old marketing tactics, customers respond to consistency and personal attention. And that is something we are all trying to perfect and manage in an age of online social networking.

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