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As social media becomes increasingly used for customer engagement, social media users from around the world report a willingness to collaborate with companies they like in a variety of areas, finds InSites Consulting in a September 2012 report. Among those willing to help (who make up a large majority of the social media users surveyed), some 64% from 19 countries around the world report being interested in helping companies improve an existing product or service, and 64% are also interested in helping companies improve customer service. Other identified areas in which a majority of these respondents are interested in helping are in the development of a new product or service (59%), feedback on companies’ overall strategies (52%), and feedback on companies’ communication about the market (51%).

A significant proportion would also be happy to collaborate with brands to improve an existing ad campaign (46%) and develop a new ad campaign (45%), as “Social Media Around The World 2012” details.

Majority Willing To Collaborate

When asked to rate their overall willingness to help brands or companies that they really like, willingness among Chinese social media users was nearly universal (98% for brands, 96% for companies). Japanese respondents are not far behind (96% and 94%), and US social media users are also fairly willing to help (81% and 84%). The least willing respondents are Australians (69% and 68%). Still, more than two thirds are willing to help brands and companies they like.

Online Collaboration Preferred

Those social media users who are willing to help brands and companies generally prefer to use online versus offline channels. Interestingly, though, social media is not their preferred medium. Instead, among online channels, email leads: 66% of those willing to help reported they would like to use email. Websites (56%) are the next most-popular collaboration medium, followed by social media (44%) and a company’s forum or community (33%), online chat (24%), and other internet sources like blogs (17%) and SMS (16%). Face-to-face contact ranked first among offline channels, but was cited by just 26% of these respondents, ahead of letters (23%) and landlines (13%).

Despite email’s prevalence, social media does have its place. Of the types of communities respondents are willing to join to help a company improve its overall strategy/offering, the highest percentage (43%) named large free-to-join communities (like a Facebook fan page), followed by a market research community (35%) and a small, closed and dedicated ongoing community (33%).

Market Research Fosters Good Will, Purchase Intent

Companies that do foster collaboration with consumers are likely to find that the collaboration itself is good marketing. 62% of global consumers responding to a January 2012 Cint survey reported that they were fairly or very likely to purchase a brand’s product if the brand asked for their opinion in a study. The majority of respondents (56%) also said they feel more loyal to a brand that takes the time to ask their opinions, more than double the proportion who said their loyalty is not influenced (24%). Some 69% of respondents believed that brands act on the market research results they receive, and 77% thought that brands now listen to what consumers want more than they did 10 years ago.

Other Findings:

  • Willingness and behavior don’t necessarily match. In all regions covered in the InSite report, the percentage of social media users experienced in helping brands is less than half the percentage willing to help brands.
  • When asked what they expect in return for their help, the largest proportion of respondents willing to help brands and companies cited feedback about what has been done with their advice and payment for their help (each at 44%). Roughly one-third expect some special offer or price break, and 29% would like some recognition from the company for their help. 13% expects nothing, reporting they are “happy to help.”

About The Data: The data was collected by online research panel provider SSI, with field work in Q2 2012 and analyses conducted by research company InSites Consulting. Translations performed by translation agency No Problem. Data gathered from 7,827 consumers aged 15+ across 19 countries, representative of the online population within each country for gender, age and e-commerce.

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