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Do consumers want to be treated as individuals?

3 min read


Today’s poll analysis post was written by Mirna Bard, a social-media consultant, speaker, author and instructor of social media at the University of California at Irvine. Follow her on Facebook and Twitter.

SmartPulse — our weekly reader poll in SmartBrief on Social Media — tracks feedback from leading marketers about social-media practices and issues.

Last week’s poll question: Because of the social-media shift, do you think consumers are looking to be treated and spoken to as individuals instead of unknown statistics by brands?

  • Yes. They are humans who want to be treated as such by building relationships, getting involved and interacting with brands 61.59%
  • Neutral. Consumers don’t care as long as brands continue to offer products and services they need and want 35.76%
  • No. Consumers know they will always be nameless numbers, and they are used to being spoken at through advertising 2.65%

It’s no secret that the social-media shift has changed how some brands refer to and engage with consumers. For years, many brands misunderstood the essential role of treating consumers as individuals, rather than nameless numbers. As a consumer, I want to be referred to as an individual.

I want to have a name. I want to be listened to rather than ignored. I want to be spoken to more willingly than spoken at. I want my wisdom to be considered instead of my intelligence insulted. In addition, I want to feel cared for and appreciated. Most importantly, I want companies I do business with to treat me as a colleague or close friend by building a genuine relationship with me. If I get the above along with great products and services, the brand will have their finger on my pulse which will allow them to discover how I think, as well as what I want and need. They will also have my loyalty, trust, more respect and lots of referrals. And given that approximately 62% of readers agreed that consumers want to be treated as humans by building relationships and interacting with brands, I know there are many people out there like me.

Of course, many brands still struggle with this notion and there are exceptions to every rule; however, some brands have found the keys to the kingdom. Numerous companies now understand that the social Web has become a fertile ground for enabling consumers to interact with them on a more personal level. The brands that are using social media properly — as a tool to monitor feedback, provide customer service as well as communicate and collaborate with their audience — are finally starting to apprehend that consumers are not just nameless statistics, but an influential voice that needs to heard, respected and appreciated.

It is extremely essential for companies to understand that social media is not just a marketing initiative for generating leads. Treating consumers as individuals by engaging them through social media and outstanding customer service, combined with amazing products or services and revenue-generating initiatives, can help make the relationship between a company and its customers a more powerful experience and a win-win for both.

Do you believe social-media shift is changing the way of consumers are treated and referred to by brands? Do you think brands are starting to have a grasp of what they need to change in order to treat consumers as individuals instead of just numbers?