Even as consumers increase their use of new media, up 48 percent from 2009, they still choose to demonstrate affinity (evidenced by “liking” on Facebook, “following” on Twitter, or subscribing to an RSS feed) for an average of only 4.6 companies online, according to the 2010 Cone Consumer New Media Study.
Consumers are more open than ever to engaging with companies via new media (86 percent vs. 78 percent in 2009), but it still takes a big effort on the part of the company to achieve real engagement. To stand out, companies need to incentivize new followers. Before deciding whether to engage with companies online, 77 percent of new media users look for free products, coupons or discounts. And they expect to find them in the following places:
- Social networks – 48 percent
- Mobile devices – 20 percent
- Message boards – 20 percent
- Blogs – 13 percent
- Online games – 12 percent
“Marketers are being more aggressive than ever with attractive promotions designed to generate likes, followers and subscribers,” says Cone’s director of new media, Mike Hollywood. “But attracting new media followers is like starting a fire: coupons are your gasoline, and engaging content are the logs that keep the fire burning. Consumers’ affinity can only tolerate five brands, so companies need to think beyond the coupon or clever widget to figure out how to develop long-term relationships with real staying power.
“The best new media strategies are those that balance relevant content with timely promotions and ongoing company-consumer dialogue.”
It may be difficult for companies to get to the top, but it’s even harder to stay there. Nearly two-thirds (59 percent) of new media users say they are satisfied with their online experiences with companies, but that doesn’t mean they won’t hesitate to punish companies by disengaging. More than half of users will stop following a company if it acts irresponsibly toward its consumers (58 percent), over-communicates with them (58 percent) or provides irrelevant content (53 percent).
Under-communicating (36 percent) or censoring user-generated content (28 percent) are also grounds for falling out of favor.
But companies that can deliver high-quality customer experiences are richly rewarded. Users who engage with companies via new media are more likely to:
- Share information about the company across their own social networks – 62 percent
- Feel a stronger connection to the company – 61 percent
- Feel better served by the company – 60 percent
- Purchase the company’s products or services – 59 percent
As new media usage grows, so too do the myriad touch points. No longer satisfied to sit still, users are increasingly taking their online experiences on the go, as nearly one-in-five (18 percent, up from 13 percent in 2009) look to interact with companies via their mobile devices. Other touch points include social networks (38 percent), message boards (16 percent), online games (15 percent), blogs (13 percent), photo-, audio- or video-sharing sites (11 percent) and microblogs (3 percent).