Corporate Eye

Consumers Want Incentives from Brands to Become and Stay Fans

In a September 2010 survey conducted by Cone, U.S. consumers identified what they look for when they engage with brands and companies online and what makes them stop following brands and companies online. 

The results aren’t very surprising, but it’s good to see hard numbers that prove that companies and brands can find great success through social media marketing if they listen to consumers and actually give them what they want and need.

When asked what types of interactions new media users look for when they engage with brands and companies online, the response breakdown was as follows with a single tactic far exceeding the rest:

  • 77% = Offer incentives such as free products, coupons, and discounts
  • 46% = Solve problems and provide product or service information such as customer service
  • 39% = Solicit feedback on products and services
  • 28% = Entertain me or provide access to premium content
  • 26% = Develop new ways for me to interact with their brands, such as widgets, mobile apps, online games, and contests.
  • 21% = Market to me through banner ads, targeted ads, and so on.

Is your brand offering incentives through social media in order to attract fans and followers and to keep those fans and followers engaged?  Three out of four new media users are looking for those incentives!

When asked what the reasons are that new media users stop following companies and brands online, the results were primarily spread fairly evenly among three annoying activities:

  • 58% = The company or brand acted irresponsibly toward me or other consumers and I’m no longer a fan of it.
  • 58% = The company or brand over-communicates with me by sending spam, sending too many messages, or offering too much content to sift through.
  • 53% = The company or brand provides irrelevant content.
  • 36% = The company or brand doesn’t communicate enough, meaning it doesn’t respond to comments, publish fresh content, offer incentives, or offer interesting content.
  • 28% = The company or brand censors the content consumers post on its new media channels such as deleting negative blog post comments or wall posts.

The above results follow the tips I always give related to social media and content marketing.  You have to offer relevant content and conversations that are meaningful to your target audience and add value to their lives.  However, people are very busy and don’t have time to weed through clutter or extraneous information to find the content that is relevant to them.  You need to be clear, concise, personable, honest, and real to succeed in attracting and keeping social media fans and followers to your brand.

How many of the things listed above are you doing the right way?  How many are you doing the wrong way?  Consumers are very clear about what they want from brands and companies on the social web.  The trick for companies is to forget about marketing and focus on listening and building relationships that lead to long-term sustainable growth.

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Susan Gunelius is the author of 10 marketing, social media, branding, copywriting, and technology books, and she is President & CEO of KeySplash Creative, Inc., a marketing communications company. She also owns Women on Business, an award-wining blog for business women. She is a featured columnist for and, and her marketing-related articles have appeared on websites such as,,, and more. She has over 20 years of experience in the marketing field having spent the first decade of her career directing marketing programs for some of the largest companies in the world, including divisions of AT&T and HSBC. Today, her clients include large and small companies around the world and household brands like Citigroup, Cox Communications, Intuit, and more. Susan is frequently interviewed about marketing and branding by television, radio, print, and online media organizations, and she speaks about these topics at events around the world. You can connect with her on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, or Google+.