Important

Razorfish has just come out with their very smart FEED report that digs into behavior of ‘connected consumers,’ which are the ones that most of us are trying to reach with our online and social campaigns.  The report goes into detail about what these connected consumers are doing and how they are engaging online.  The statistics are pretty amazing, although not altogether surprising (to me at least).

According to the report:

“Based on our 2009 Razorfish Digital Brand Experience Study, 65% of consumers report having had a digital experience that either positively or negatively changed their opinion about a brand. Of that group, a nearly unanimous 97% say that their digital experience influenced whether or not they eventually purchased a product or service from that brand.”

This is pretty straightforward, and should definitely grab some marketers’ attentions.  I certainly hope so!

The piece in the report that caught me was that consumers are looking for deals on social media, and they are not necessarily there because they share the brand’s values.  This definitely raises an important point and it’s a good idea to probe a bit on this to figure out how best to capitalize on this insight. Here are a few thoughts on this:

1. Economics. I think it’s worth noting that we are coming out of a recession and naturally consumers are looking for deals online.  I bet this explains some of the info on what people are looking for in social channels.  But beyond just money, people want something unique or different – something that the average consumer isn’t getting.  Of course, the easy thing to do is just offer a discount or some kind of sale.  But there’s more that we can offer to satisfy consumer appetite in social channels. Let’s not throw the baby out with the bath water just yet please.

2. Unique Content. There are other ways to reward consumers for being a friend/fan/follower of a brand outside of the typical discounts or sales.  Interestingly, in the FEED report, Whole Foods was cited as one of the brands that is ‘getting it’ and offering info on weekly specials AND shopping tips.  The latter is something that probably costs them very little, but helps customers have a better shopping experience with Whole Foods.  Is this valuable?  You bet it is.  This is getting more into the mind of the customer and really helping them outside of just financial rewards (discounts).

3. Advance Info. Social channels give us the ability to make announcements quickly, and give fans, followers, friends, etc. a ‘heads up’ that something big is happening.  Making big announcements via social channels is a great way to reward these fans that make public proclamations of their brand support.  And of course, the mix of communications is important here.  We don’t want to fall into the trap of only pushing out messages that we want our audience to respond to, but those messages should be peppered in along with other messages that are truly useful to the community.

4. Limited Editions. Nothing groundbreaking here, but this is a concept that can be utilized in social channels to keep fans happy.  If there is a limited edition item that can be announced and made available through exclusively social channels, then this can be used as a thank you to the members of the community.  This not only rewards the community, but it encourages the viral effect, because those who don’t have access to the limited edition item will no doubt want to know why.  When they find out, it’s a good bet that they will join the community so they are in the know the next time around.

5.  Special Events. Inviting fans to a special event is another easy way to show appreciation and reward them for sticking around.  Another old-school tactic, but one that translates well into social channels.  How easy is it to send out an invite to an event via social media?  Pretty easy.  Is this something that the community would value?  Probably so.  This one may cost some money, depending on what the event is, but the potential upside may be worth the investment if done properly.

These are just a few thoughts that come to mind after reading the FEED report.  I certainly think that providing deals and discounts is a strong proposition for many brands, particularly in the current economic climate, but this isn’t the only way to generate loyalty in social media.  In the end, it’s not about the channel – it’s about Marketing.  Some things don’t change just because there is better technology and more communication channels we can use.  Sometimes you have to get back to the basics and figure out creative ways to connect with your audience without falling back on price cuts or sales.

Download the full FEED report here.

Special thanks to @gschmitt and the Razorfish crew for this outstanding report.  It’s a must-read for any marketer.  Give it a read and I’d love to hear your take on what this means for brands.