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JDPowerNetBase-Consumer-Attitudes-Online-Listening-Privacy-Feb201364% of 18-24-year-olds want companies to respond to them when they talk about them online, according to [download page] a new e-book containing results from a survey by J.D. Power & Associates and NetBase. Older age groups mirror that sentiment, although just half of the 55+ group agree. While that suggests that in general, consumers want companies to respond to discussions about them online (generally referring to social media), separate results from the survey paint a more confusing picture.

For example, roughly 6 in 10 respondents aged 18-54 want companies to listen to what they say about them online (although only about 4 in 10 of the 55+ crowd concur). But at the same time, about half of the respondents (with the 55+ set again an outlier at 59%) think that consumers should be able to talk about companies online without those companies listening in.

Even more confusingly, while between half and two-thirds of respondents want companies to respond when they’re being discussed online, more than 6 in 10 also say that companies should only respond to online comments made directly to them (i.e. on their Facebook page, tweeted to them, etc.)

Amusingly, the report notes that the takeaway for marketers and others who handle social media strategy is that they should be “telepathic.” The next-best advice given is for marketers to: go beyond listening, and try to understand what consumers are saying; consider the conversation’s context; deliver mutual value when engaging; and show how listening can be a relationship-building tool rather than an intrusion.

Other Findings:

  • Despite holding all these varied opinions about social media privacy, less than three-quarters of respondents (ranging from 62% of 18-24-year olds to 72% of 45-54-year-olds) know that companies might be listening to what they’re saying online.
  • Roughly 4 in 10 respondents aged 18-54 feel that companies that listen to online conversations are intruding on consumers. That proportion rises to 54% among the 55 and over demographic.
  • Attitudes regarding whether companies should monitor online conversations to improve products and services vary significantly among age groups, ranging from 40% agreement for the 18-24 set, to 57% for the 45-54 group, and back down to 37% for the 55+ set.
  • Slightly more respondents believe that a company should respond to them if they make a negative remark about the company in an online post than if they make a positive remark about a company in an online post.

About the Data: J.D. Power and Associates, in association with NetBase, conducted a survey in December 2012 of 1,062 U.S. consumers ages 18”“55+.

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