The social customer has been gaining influence since the birth of the Internet. Their daily journey is dynamic and they interact with a variety of media & content in different ways (i.e. Twitter, Facebook, RSS, mobile, search, etc.) As a result, they filter out the noise (Twitter lists, circles, general attention, etc.) in an effort to consume only the content that is relevant to them at a specific moment in time. They are influential regardless of how many friends, fans and followers they have. One minute they might love the brand and then next minute they may hate the brand, depending on their experiences. We are all social customers and they should be taken seriously – think Netflix, Verizon Wireless, Bank of America etc.
In response to the social customer, brands began (and still do) to create channels in order to engage with them, many times without much planning. Smart companies are trying to turn friends, fans and followers into customer advocates. They do so by being human, authentic and providing relevant content — the right content, at the right time, in the right channel to the right customer. Why? Advocates affect the purchase funnel. Though organic conversations (whether good or bad) they are aiding and influencing their own micro-communities down the purchase funnel.
Many brands today are now realizing that there is chaos in the organization thanks to social media. Unfortunately, many employees just don’t know how to behave online and many are getting fired for posting questionable content within their personal social media accounts. This is because there are no policies, training and education in place. Also, there is a confusion of roles & responsibilities – marketing wants to own social media, PR wants to own social media and customer support is wondering how they can get involved. There is zero internal communication resulting in multiple social channels with no clear goals or alignment. Everyone is measuring social media differently and yes, organizational silos are alive and well.
Lastly, there needs to be value creation between the social customer, the brand and the way it communicates, and the business by implementing change in process, behavior; as well as product innovation. In a nutshell:
- The social customer creates value (purchase, indirectly selling products via advocacy, product feedback)
- The social brand creates value by listening and engaging (relevant content, discounts, real conversations)
- The social business creates value by implementing change internally