Alterian survey details social media's brand impact

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More than a third of U.S. respondents using social media believe that “companies are genuinely interested in them,” according to a 2010 report released in earlier this month by marketing services company Alterian.

Alterian's 2010 report “Your Brand: At Risk or Ready for Growth?” found that 75% of respondents wanted companies to find out about their needs and interests. Among respondents who are active social media users (64% of the survey sample), about three-quarters (76%) said social media would be a great channel to gather their information. But, respondents said, trust is crucial. Ninety percent said companies using social media need to be transparent about who is manipulating the mouse in social media conversations.

The report also suggests the shift towards social media creates challenges for marketers because they no longer have control over when and how their brands are discussed.

“The socialization of brands is happening. Virtual word-of-mouth is here,” said Michael Fisher, senior-VP sales/marketing for the Americas at Alterian.

Regarding old-style brands, Fisher said survival will hinge on committing to organizational change, as well as developing and integrating systems and staff skills for social media marketing.

“What is clear is that technology is changing the game, both in the way consumers interact with brands but also in their ability to respond to them,” said Alterian CEO David Eldridge. “Engaging with customers in a two-way dialogue, connecting online and offline channels within an analytics framework and fully recognizing the value of each individual customer is the way of the future.”

Eight-five percent of social media users in the survey said they would be more likely to tell others about a product or company if they had a direct impact in its creation. Given this finding, Fisher said open-minded, collaborative marketing, using strong advocates, is the way of the future.

“Today's organizations have to be more open and networked than ever before,” he said. “By networked, I mean no organization can do everything on their own. They need partnerships, and consumers need to know who, and why and what the partnerships will bring to the table.”

“For a brand to ignore how it's being socialized would be a very big misstep,” Fisher added.

The report, which was based on an online survey of 1,000 individuals and companies from February to Marche 2010, was administered by a third party, without respondents knowing of Alterian's involvement.

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