Working for NetBase, a social intelligence company that helps the largest brands and agencies in the world understand what consumers are saying about them, I started wondering about Big Brother: Do consumers know we’re listening, and do they care?

To answer that, we joined forces with our partner J.D. Power and Associates and surveyed 1,062 consumers across demographics—Millennials to Boomers—and asked them a series of questions.

Survey Results
Here are key findings from the survey, presented in an infographic:

  • 32% of consumers have no idea brands are listening. They’re talking about companies to their friends, and their feedback is 100% pure. The other 68%, who know companies are listening, have a tendency to go the company Facebook or Twitter channel and talk to the company, which gives us a chance to service them. This is a helpful data point that can tell marketers about the mindset of consumers.
  • As we analyzed the survey data, the contradictions appeared. 51% of consumers want to be able to talk about companies without them listening; and 43% think listening intrudes on privacy. On the flip side, 48% say companies should listen only to improve products and services. They’re essentially saying, “Don’t listen to me in social but service me in social.” In addition, 58% have a double standard—an expectation that companies should only respond to complaints. This means that if I’m a marketer mapping out my social media strategy, I should speak only when spoken to—a very important insight.
  • 42% expect companies to respond to positive comments—they’re saying, Don’t engage with me only for customer service. If I’m saying something nice, join my conversation. But 64% still say companies should respond only if they’re being directly addressed.

The big take away here is that to some extent, consumers want marketers to be “telepathic” and anticipate when and how to engage with them. Clearly we can’t be clairvoyant, but what we can do, is not just listen to them, but understand their conversations and do so in proper context. So, as marketers, that is what we must start doing.

And, here is the infographic:

That’s a high-level summary of survey findings; in the eBook are many more key stats that break down findings by demographic. In some cases Boomers and Millennials have similar opinions; in other cases they’re very different. They interact with social media in different ways.

To download the eBook, click here.

To watch the SlideShare, click here.

To register for the Social Savvy webinar with Jackie Anderson of J.D. Power on February 20th , click here.

Thank you to Brian Solis Principal at Altimeter Group for his guidance in analyzing these survey results.