Throughout 2011 we have been tracking the core motivations for a consumer to follow a brand in a social network. Since February 2011, both June and November sets of data see higher scores for all the motivations and a lower score of the “no interest”. This suggests an increase in consumers appetite to interact with brands.

The number one motivation is unsurprisingly “discounts for future purchases”. Of course everybody loves a discount, so before you rush out with a couponing strategy you should consider whether it fits your brand, position and desired outcomes.

More interestingly for the advocates of social business (myself included), “Customer Service” has ranked number 2 in every single wave. This is a huge insight to support the idea of extending your customer experience across open social channels. Twitter, Google+ and Facebook service centres work and are valued. This point is echoed by “deliver tracking” and “interacting with staff” at the company scoring highly.

The other core aspect is about insider knowledge and personalisation. “Personalised purchase recommendations” comes third, while accessing new products lies fourth. Consumers like to get something back. This is quite obvious, but also demonstrates how open the relationship can be.

The other really interesting point is the low rankings for social features, such as “connecting with other fans of the shop”, “details of what my friends have brought” and “details of what my friends would like to buy”. This mirrors some of the macro trends that are being coming from the study as a whole including the idea that consumers love and value to interact with brands in social networks and that social technologies are becoming less about peer to peer connections and more about top down ones. In short brands don’t have to bend to fit the social network by enabling peer to peer connections, they can be there on their own right building direct connections.

Still many people question the right to brands being in social networks. This data underlines our position that consumers value it and their growing presence is a positive force.

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