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Consumers want social media conversation, not advertising

A new survey by Millward Brown suggests small businesses should approach their social media marketing policies with a degree of humility. The study points out that the majority of consumers prefer businesses to act as friends in social media environments and not as businesses.

Consequently, promotional gimmicks may turn out to backfire on many small businesses. Companies should earn a sense of trust among their “friends” before moving forward with unscrupulous marketing ploys.

“As this research has shown, there are clear rules of engagement for brands in social media,” writes Marketing Mag. “Trust is key and brands need to listen to what consumers have to say and be open and honest about their products and services. As the balance of power shifts to consumers, brands who successfully engage through social media are rewarded with loyal consumers who endorse and defend their favored brands.”

Millward Brown recommends small businesses listen first and talk later – that is, observe, then contribute. Aside from potentially learning a thing or two about consumers’ interests or spending habits, they simply do not want to be “talked at.” They can recognize an advertisement or marketing gimmick as easily as you; what they want is a conversation. Otherwise, you are abusing the privilege of being “friends” with your customers.

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