The Perception Gap is Real and Deep [Research]

Author: Research Team

Last fall, we undertook two research studies and examined side-by-side responses from Social Consumers and Social Professionals on a range of topics. The result: a perception gap that was not only real, but deep.

While Social marketers say they know who their Social Consumers are, the research paints a dramatically different picture. The basic benefits consumers expect from brands in Social and those that professionals believe central stand far apart. So, too, do the behaviors and attitudes of Social Consumers in core activities such as commerce and gaming, and the perceptions by Social marketers.

When Social Consumers were asked what they want from Social engagement, their desires were clear: deals, special content and rewards based on their engagement. Customer service ranks dead last in their responses. When Social Marketers were asked the same question, they indicated customer service as the benefit they felt Social Consumers wanted most. Customer needs were well back in the pack of professional presumptions.

“The research indicates a variety, complexity and openness to change among consumers that professionals don’t seem to ‘get’, ” said Mike Edelhart, President of Tomorrow Project, LLC, producer of Pivot Conference and Social Week. “While the research doesn’t specifically address this, the impression left from a review of the responses is that professional perceptions are locked in early in market cycles. Whoever is the first big name mentioned in a category becomes locked-in as the total market leader. The pros seem to want to anoint ‘winners’ in each category. Consumers, by contrast, don’t seem all that loyal in Social. They seem to be increasingly active, trying many services and loyal only to the extent that a solution delivers what they want.”

Highlights from the report include:

    • Social Professionals feel they know who their Social Consumers are, but most have never asked Social Consumers what matters to them.
    • Consumers seek deals and special content in return for their Social activity toward brands; Social marketers, by contrast, see customer service improvement as the biggest benefit consumers want in Social.
    • Consumer use in Social gaming, daily deals and photo sharing is far more varied than the perception marketers have of it. Consumers appear variable and experimental. Marketer perceptions focus on big winners in each category.

The complete report can be downloaded here.

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