Want Social Media Fans? Offer Coupons.

A newly released survey from AdAge and Ipsos Observer finds that consumers are very willing to receive communications from brands in a digital media environment - as long as that communication is a discount or coupon. Of those surveyed*, 65 percent said they want coupons and discounts from brands in these environments. Following that was "Better customer service", at 42 percent.

When asked why they "friending" a brand online, the top reason consumers gave was "I hoped to get discounts." Another popular reason was because it was suggested by a friend online.

Take this as a clear signal that consumers expect something in return for their "friendship." And that "something" is not an announcement from the CEO or news about company profits. This survey shows it's about cold, hard cash.

The survey also found that consumers prefer Facebook as the top means for brands to communicate with consumers, by a factor of 41 percent. The next highest preferred method was Twitter, at 18 percent. But the most preferred way consumers want to communicate with brands? None at all, with 48 percent. Still, when added together (including MySpace, LinkedIn, Foursquare and 'Other') it appears that consumers are, for the most part, willing to hear from businesses during their regular digital media consumption.

*1,000 consumers were surveyed about their "digital-media habits."