Social media has also changed the face of marketing forever, but capturing the "conversation" isn't quite the Holy Grail of consumer intelligence. Discovering the motivations on "why" consumers "like" you on Facebook, tweet about your brand or forward information about your products to friends is what marketers should be striving to understand. Simply put, marketing needs to be driven by the connections that brands establish with consumers. These connections aren't the physical interactions that occur between consumers and their brands, nor are they the likes and dislikes about product features, or even the so-called "levels of engagement" used to observe and frame online behavior.
Building a brighter future. Fitting in with co-workers. Becoming a more interesting person. Consumer connection occurs when an individual consumer emotionally "connects" with your brand as a means to realize these ends. Combined with the right rational messages about your brand and its products, consumers can connect to your brand beyond the Web 2.0 level. These valuable connections drive steep increases in purchase, loyalty and advocacy, which is what every brand tries to achieve.
Connection. The Missing Link
Unfortunately, what's measured by social media as well as traditional market research largely misses the upside of consumer connection. And without tangible, data-driven intelligence on connection, marketers and their agencies will be more reluctant to go out on a limb to recommend emotionally driven creative ideas.
For example, satisfaction has been a measure of customer loyalty for decades, but it alone doesn't explain why a customer becomes a brand advocate. Nor does it really address what may attract a prospective customer to the brand in the first place. New consumer connection data from Motista illustrates this.
We recently analyzed the levels of connection for social media moms and non-social media moms in two disparate categories: banking and eReaders. We looked beyond what moms were saying in social media to focus on what was truly motivating them to advocate for their eReader or bank. We found that moms who feel emotionally connected to their eReaders and banks are far more likely to advocate for their brands in social media, recommend their brands directly to friends, be more loyal and purchase additional products.
While connected and non-connected moms both give their brands almost identical scores on satisfaction, features and quality, connected eReader moms are significantly more likely to feel that their eReader brand helps them be closer to loved ones, express who they want to be and fit in with friends. The same kind of emotional connection was revealed in the banking study with all segments and categories across the spectrum.
Can't You Draw the Same Conclusions about Connection from Social Media?
A lot has been riding on social media and sentiment analysis to derive insight into consumers, because knowing what consumers are saying about your products is, of course, important. However, consumers do not readily reveal their true and personal motivations in this forum.
People do not always admit how a product really makes them feel about life or themselves, and unconscious motivations that lie beneath the surface just don't come across naturally in social media conversation. A consumer may tweet: "I love my new white iPhone 4," but they may not divulge that the reason behind the purchase was because it made them feel cool and hip.
Facebook may be a great way for people to express themselves and share "what's on your mind?" However, marketers working on campaigns need to know what's in the consumer's heart -- what's really motivating them to act in the first place? This deeper "why" is how marketers can put a real jolt into their marketing results and take full advantage of social media's power.