Do marketers and consumers understand each other anymore? close

Julie Coassin
Julie Coassin
In Musings, Online Innovation
17th October 2008

Last time, we looked at how the Social Media omnipresence is changing consumers' behaviour and concluded that marketers need to change their mindset and techniques to shift from traditional marketing to more of a conversation: a real dialogue with their audience.

It seems to us that most marketers and web users are talking at crossed purposes these days. Marketers are still broadcasting interruptive one-way messages, speaking loudly to target audiences and controlling the message. The video above is a good example of the traditional marketing model, reaching out to a large volume of consumers through messages without listening directly to the needs of the customer.

But forget about your monologue if you don't want to be abandoned. Instead let's create a dialogue between your clients and you. Dell finally managed to do this and have significantly improved their customer service, you should be able to as well!

Web users have fully adopted social media tools that enable them to create, share, discuss, and participate online. This results in empowered users who can say anything they like about brands: the good (Zappos) and the very bad (Taco Bell).

Unfortunately, there is nothing you can do about these conversations happening online, on blog comments, on customer reviews, on feedback platforms... They are taking place with or without you and travel even faster and further than you think.

So what should you do? Don't ignore what people are saying about your brand, a bad customer experience leads to a bad reputation which loses you money! Furthermore, if you're not part of the conversation, other people, competitors, are.

The best communicators start as the best listeners (Brian Solis – Social Media Manifesto). It is no longer what you say about yourselves, but what they say about you! So LISTEN to what people are saying then analyse what is being said and why. Only then should you ENGAGE and PARTICIPATE.

Some tips:

  • Think like a customer and talk to them with a real voice.
    Don't make them feel small!
  • Be transparent and honest: if you are wrong, it's ok to admit it.
    Honesty is rewarded and it will bring back customer trust.
  • Provide your customer with tools that they are happy to use and help them accomplish what they want (suggestion platforms, voting system, blogs, comments, video sharing...)
  • Create opportunities to make them feel owners of the brand. They can become your strongest advocates!
  • Think of Social Media as a long-term strategy not a one-off communication campaign.
  • Remember this is a two-way communication so be prepared to relinquish some control.

If you engage people by building relationships, you can expect your customer service to improve significantly. In addition to helpful feedback on what you currently offer its also a great source of fresh ideas, free R&D!

According to a recent study published by Opinion Research Corporation for Cone, consumers are enthusiastic about companies involved on social media platforms as it opens new channels to interact with the brand. So what are you waiting for? Start now before it's too late!