London: A survey of 2,000 consumers by Ernst & Young found that most customers believe organisations are failing when it comes to managing their interactions with them through social media. With almost 80% of respondents using social media in some way and 67% saying that social media directly influences their purchase decisions, it is imperative that businesses respond now to this growing trend.
Specifically the research found that:
- Only 15% of customers believe organisations are doing a good job when it comes to managing and interacting with them via social media
- Customers are generally seeking a deeper more meaningful connection with business through social media, 1 in 6 social media users want to co-develop future products and services
- 96% of social media users use social media to better inform them of products and services
- Social media has an even greater influence on the purchasing decisions of customers between 18-35 years of age, who are also higher users of social media
Following the study, Ernst & Young has developed five rules for businesses to help deliver the social experience customers seek:
1. Facilitate open dialogue
Over 65% of customers want to share their experiences of using products and services with business, and importantly are as likely to use social media to share positive experiences of products and services as to provide feedback and complain when things don't work as expected.
2. Engage proactively
Our research consistently found a strong correlation between brands that make the effort to proactively engage with their customers and the number of customers that engage and follow a brand. In particular, those companies that responded to customer tweets tended to have a 10 fold increase in the number of followers.
3. Connect beyond your product
Consumers expect companies to create communities by connecting them with content not directly linked to products and services allowing for a broader engagement. Only 7% of respondents believe brands can achieve this level of engagement by pushing information on their products and services alone via social media sites.
4. Deliver integrated experiences
Customers expect to be able to choose which social media platform on which to start a conversation with a brand, and they expect to be able to move the conversation between platforms and other channels as required. Ernst & Young found that brands that facilitate these "integrated experience" have strong followings of customers across all their social media sites. Engagement increased by over 200% on twitter and more than 80% on You Tube when brands included links to their other social media sites.
5. Collaborate and co-develop
Given that customers tend to engage with brands that are important to them through social media, it is not a surprise that many also want to actively engage in the development of that brands future products and services. 1: 6 of social media users want to co-develop future products and services.
Richard Ingelton, Partner at Ernst & Young, commented: "The social digital trend is already driving the creation and destruction of entire business models, and is giving rise to opportunities for disruption and differentiation across all aspects of the value chain. Although some companies have put in place engaging social media strategies our research shows that companies have some way to go yet to fulfil customer expectations."