It’s no surprise that social media is here to stay, as the world has watched sites like Twitter and Facebook continually grow. Furthermore, new social media sites like Pinterest pop up constantly and consumers become immediately drawn to them.

With this increased consumer engagement in social media, there is now more pressure for companies to step there game up, differentiate themselves, and cater to their consumers’ needs with their social media marketing campaigns.

Based on these trends in social media, Wildfire Social Media Marketing developed an interesting report at the end of 2011, called, “2012 and Social Media: What’s Next?” This report gave major predictions about how companies would utilize social media in their marketing efforts this year.

The main claim of Wildfire’s report was that 2012 would be, “the year of understanding how to engage an audience and learning how to monetize it through better analytics and a focus on results.” Now, three months into the year, it is evident that the prediction was exactly right.

However, a more recent study done by the CMO Council and Lithium discovered that several companies’ social media marketing campaigns aren’t effectively addressing the needs and wants of consumers through their social media.

An article published by Steve Olenski, contributor to, analyzed this study and claimed that there is a clear, “divide between what marketers think consumers want vs. what consumers really want when it comes to social media.”

Olenski discovered that the most main issue involving what marketers think their consumers want and what their consumers actually want, involved the category of incentives. It was reported that about 65% of social media users connected with brands on their social platforms through the use of, “games, contests and promotions,” while just 33% of companies felt that consumers were really “looking for incentives or rewards for engaging with the brand.”

So, it seems that it’s not so much about how consumers are using social media sites to connect to brands, but it’s more about the fact that consumers want to engage with companies through social media because they are hoping for something in return.

The good news: social media marketing is a newer area that is still growing and changing, so marketers still have time to examine their social media marketing campaigns and modify them to really connect with consumers.

Ultimately, success in any companies’ social media marketing comes down to two main issues: first, clearly identifying and addressing the needs and wants of consumers, and then offering incentives to those target consumers, regardless of consumers’ social media habits.

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