For consumers, Facebook’s Like button is a pathway to getting discounts, promotions and special offers. Marketers have a more narcissistic view, according to a new study. To paraphrase actor Sally Fields 1985 Oscar acceptance speech, “They like us. They really, really like us.”

Citing the “Variance in the Social Brand Experience” study from the CMO Council and social CRM firm Lithium, a post from digital intelligence firm eMarketer stated that:

  • 57 percent of marketers thought a ‘like’ meant the content on the site was agreeable;
  • 41% thought it meant customers wanted to be heard;
  • 33% of marketers said they thought customers were looking for incentives or rewards for their ‘like.’

From the consumers’ perspective, the study says they engage with brands through social channels primarily to:

  • Be eligible for exclusive offers (67 percent);
  • Interact with other consumers and compare experiences (60 percent);
  • Find games, contests, and other unique experiences (57 percent);
  • Find service and support from their social networking site (50 percent);
  • Share ideas for new products and features (41 percent).

There was also a difference between the two groups in terms of perception of customer loyalty. Of the 132 marketers surveyed in the study, only 24 percent thought a ‘like’ meant the consumer was also a loyal customer. Conversely, 49 percent of the 1300 consumers surveyed said they liked a brand because they were already loyal customers.

Most damning was the revelation that, though brands are seeing benefit to the use of social media, less than one-fifth (17 percent) have yet to fully align social channels into the marketing mix.

Social Consumers Expect More from Brands

“The bottom line is that consumers want more – more experiences, more engagement, more rewards, and more reasons to connect with each other and brands through social media,” said the CMO Council study, which concluded that “brands are missing the boat.”

Though socially-connected consumers demand more, the study found they will go out of their way to reward brands with greater loyalty and advocacy. “When they are acknowledged, rewarded, and offered relevant information and special experiences, they become exceedingly loyal and go out of their way to help the brand meet key business drivers – like better customer support, faster innovation, and increased demand and awareness,” the study found.

Advice for Brands

These findings gave way to some advice, as well. Brands who wish to gain social business advantage in 2012 will be those who feed unmet consumer appetites for:

  1. Deeper engagement with each other and the brand;
  2. Purposeful engagement with social support and ideation;
  3. More rewards with special offers, greater privilege, rank, and reputation;
  4. Better experiences with games, contests, and other online engagement apps.

The complimentary 31-page study can be downloaded here.

eMarketer chart - marketers view of Facebook likes

eMarketer chart - Effect of social media on marketing operations