IBM study: Many companies botching social media

Strangely, most consumers aren't eager to be online 'friends' with businesses

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It appears many companies are doing this whole social media thing all wrong, according to a new study by IBM.

Fortunately, IBM this week launched a "Smarter Commerce" consulting practice that includes, among other things, a social media component. The serendipity of it all.

(Also see: IBM launches e-commerce practice)

The IBM study does draw a big conclusion that has the ring of truth, which is that some companies make false assumptions about what consumers want out of social media interactions with businesses.

From Dow Jones Newswire:

The study found that a majority of consumers say the top reasons they interact with companies via social sites are to receive discounts and make purchases, but companies rank those as the least likely reasons customers will follow them.

Nothing like understanding your customer!

Instead, businesses overestimate consumers' desire to interact with the companies, believing consumers hope to feel connected or be part of a community.

"The customers really just want to be our social media friends! They want to engage with us!" Talk about naive. The customer wants something tangible, you dopes, not to be pummeled on Facebook and Twitter by a marketing barrage thinly disguised as social media chit-chat.

Also, most consumers won't deal with companies via social media if they suspect dubious motives. The IBM study showed that more than 60 percent of respondents must "believe a company is communicating honestly before they will interact," Dow Jones reports.

Bottom line on social media for companies: Keep it real.

Chris Nerney writes about the business side of technology market strategies and trends, legal issues, leadership changes, mergers, venture capital, IPOs and technology stocks. Follow him on Twitter @ChrisNerney.

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