Social Media "Likes" Means Give Me An Exclusive

According to a new study by The CMO Council, in partnership with Lithium, more than 1,300 consumers and 132 senior marketers feel that social media consumers are open-minded, engaged, demanding, loyal and willing advocates for brands they love.

The research, “Variance in the Social Brand Experience,” also uncovered significant gaps between how brands and consumers approach the social media marketplace. The overarching finding was that consumers want more from brands online, including better experiences, deeper engagement with each other and the brand, reasons to participate, and rewards when they do.

But brands are missing the boat, says the report. They see the benefits of reaching out to customers through social channels, but they aren’t yet fully invested. While 52% of marketers reported they believe their brands have enjoyed greater influence thanks to their presence in social networks like Facebook, only 17% said that social media is fully meshed, aligned, and integrated into the overall marketing mix.

55% of consumers say they engage with brands through channels like Facebook and other social networks largely to learn about new products, 65% enter unique promotions or contests, or to play games offered specifically, and often exclusively, through these channels. 25% of consumers use social specifically to connect with other fans, or to 32% to share positive experiences.

Customers also have high expectations when connecting with brands through social. They expect answers within 24 hours, with only 12% willing to wait days for resolution of support issues. Increasingly, the expectation is an immediate response: 22% of consumers want instant gratification, with an additional 19% looking for resolution within hours.

The top expectation that comes with a “like” is to be eligible for exclusive offers (67%), followed by the opportunity to interact with other customers who share a consumer’s own experiences (60%). Games and contests are also big draws; 65% of consumers want to find them when making online brand connections, and 57% expect them from brands on Facebook.

Marketers believe that when a customer “likes” a brand, it is a reaction to agreeable content. They also believe brand fans are looking for news and information about the brand and its products or demonstrating their customer loyalty. There is an understanding that customers are looking for incentives or rewards, but more marketers believe that fans are looking for a way to be heard.

What Marketers Think A Customer Means When “Liking” Brand

Think Customer Means

% of Marketers

Content is agreeable


Want to be heard


Want to track news on the brand and products


Looking for incentives or rewards for engaging with the brand


Looking for special savings or events just for followers


Are loyal customers


Want to engage with other customers


Want to contribute and help customers.


Source: CMO Council, December 2011

Considering that the overwhelming majority of consumers are looking for deals and savings, says the report, it is telling that only 43% of marketers are using their social networks to answer this consumer call. When asked to prioritize investments, special offers and promotions also place low on the list, with most marketers placing these deals as the least important investment in their mix. Instead, marketers are focusing on offline investments, search, web, and digital.

Few marketers are responding to “likes” with special savings or deals (22%), special perks, or privileges (7%). And given the customer expectation for immediate response and resolution to issues, marketers are missing an opportunity to address service and customer care by leveraging social media to provide faster handling and better customer care (4%). Most marketers are using the channel to continue conversations (31%), while many are allowing conversations to grow organically (30%) with little censoring or editing.

According to the marketers surveyed, 76% see customer communication come to their brand through email, with 55% of consumers calling in to a customer service line or contact center. These engagements are typically from customers looking for service or support (80%), with a significant portion of customers reaching out specific to an advertising, direct, or web campaign.

How Customers Typically Interact Or Communicate With Marketers


% of Respondents



Call a customer service line or contact center


Attend live events or tradeshows


Online form


Attend online and offline events


Visit retail locations


Join an online discussion group or forum


Post on the brand’s Facebook page






SMS text message (mobile)


Post on a customer’s Facebook page




Source: CMO Council, December 2011

Among the respondent pool, 49% represent the coveted 18–34 age bracket, but 31% represent social media users over age 45, with 14% between the ages 55 and 65. On average, the consumers surveyed have 546 Facebook friends and 95 Twitter followers, and they follow 36 brands on Facebook and 61 brands on Twitter. This is an influencer group willing to put their loyalty into those brands who are building experiences to meet and exceed their social expectations.

There are significant concerns regarding an organization’s capacity to engage customers in social media as resource requirements and availability was the top concern voiced by marketers.

Significant Concerns About Investments In Social Media Initiatives


% of Respondents

Requires resources and time we don’t have


Can’t quantify or measure return or impact on my brand


Requires new competency and expertise we don’t have


Can’t manage and control what’s said about my brand or how my brand is used




Source: CMO Council, December 2011

Almost half of marketers state that social media has increased the complexity of marketing planning and mix allocation. But an increasing number of marketers are leveraging social to gain better insights, as 55% of marketers enjoy improved customer listening, engagement, and conversations, and 55% state it has opened avenues to gather and further market insights. Another 20% even believe that social media has introduced new efficiencies and effectiveness to go-to-market strategies.

Impact Of Social Media On Marketing Operations


% of Respondents

Improved customer listening, engagement, and conversations


Opened new avenues to gather and further market insights


Increased the complexity of marketing planning and mix allocation


Opened new opportunities to survey, test, and research products and services


Improved customer intelligence


Introduced new efficiencies and effectiveness in our go-to-market programs


Increased headcount to add new talent to manage social media


Reduced advertising/media spend


Lowered the cost of customer service




Source: CMO Council, December 2011

Nearly one in four marketers is simply not sure how to respond to customer “likes” online. While most marketers will respond with deeper conversation and engagement (31%) or spark further community conversation (30%), those delivering unique offers, discounts, and deals are in the minority (22%). S s

For more detailed findings and access to the complimentary PDF file, please visit with the CMO Council here.


2 comments about "Social Media "Likes" Means Give Me An Exclusive".
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  1. Pat Mcgraw from [mcgraw | marketing], December 21, 2011 at 10:19 a.m.

    Thanks for taking the time to break-down the report.

    For me, two things jump out.

    First, if "55% of marketers enjoy improved customer listening", why are so few marketers responding to “likes” with special savings or deals (22%), special perks, or privileges (7%)?

    Second, if customers also have "...high expectations when connecting with brands through social" but marketers are not seeing the volume of customer communications via Facebook (2%) or Twitter (8%), I wonder if marketers are listening in the wrong places?!

    Well, one thing is for certain. We have a lot more to learn in order to improve the customer experience.


  2. Dina James from Interactive One, December 21, 2011 at 5:30 p.m.

    Interesting perceptions gained through these stats. One thing I want to point out is that Facebook and Twitter to some extent are replacing how people used to use RSS feeds. I think Likes on Facebook can many times be explained through simply wanting to get updates on some topic. Additionally, it should be pointed out that there are so many companies listed at that do nothing other than promote Facebook pages that I think to some extent these stats can be considered skewed to a percentage. I'm also a bit surprised (at 57%) that content is agreeable is so high. A lot of people like a page strictly to post negative comments on it and hassle people (particularly in the political realm, ha) so that's also part of how people actually interact.

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