In the past businesses have much more control on the brand message and customers were pretty much passive consumers of the information. But with the advent and popularity of conversation-centric social media and mobile technologies, customers have equal, if not more, opportunities to talk about brands publically. Now they have their say in product development and their public reviews which can be read across the globe in real time matters a lot as customers are in the heart of social media marketing. Now they can freely share the information about products and services from anywhere, anytime and with anyone. There are many potential opportunities and threats for the brands in content-driven and customer-focused social media. For understanding those potential opportunities and threats, it is important to first understand social customers.
Social customers are much more connected, out-spoken, creative and informed than traditional customers. They do not like traditional marketing tone from the business, rather they want business to collaborate and engage with them. They communicate and collaborate and share their experiences with their peers even without the involvement of the business. So it is in advantage of the business to interact with them and create content to engage them rather than interrupting them. They wanted real-time customer support and a solution to their problems. They have no loyalty when customer support is bad.
Types of Social Customers
There are four main types of social customers
- Creators: who publish social media content
- Critics: who are active in writing reviews and comments
- Collectors: who retweet, like and share content.
- Spectators: who like just reading quality content.
Social Media and Negative Word of Mouth (WOM)
Sometimes customers may get angry for variety of reasons. On social media, customers are the people with megaphone and they can make or break a business.So it is important to understand legitimately angry customers so that the problem can be fixed well in time before it goes viral and become hard to be undone:
- Generally they talk to you on a positive note until something wrong happens
- They rarely badmouth the business and generally are helpful and friendly to others
- They are popular and active over different social media platforms
To resolve the issues, following points can be used as guidelines:
- Customer is always right. Try to avoid argument with customers
- The effective way against a rude customer is politeness
- Make your customer part of developing solution
Advantages and Benefits of Social Media for the Business
- Deeper customer insight and market intelligence
- Collaborative environment and improved engagement
- More UGC and improved business visibility
- Improved customer feedback
- Better reputation and influence
- Low-cost, real-time customer support and crowd sourcing
- Crisis management and risk mitigation
- Improved customer satisfaction and enhanced loyalty
- Improved customer relationships
- Positive Word of mouth
- 24/7 free sales team
Disadvantages and Threats of Social Media for the businesses
- Lack of control
- Fear of negative word of mouth
- Uncertainty about ROI
- Lack of awareness
- Privacy issues
- Lack of expertise
- Concerns regarding scalability of huge social data and converting data into information
Listening actively, having policies, using common sense, being transparent, educating staff and stake holders, building brand communities can help a lot to overcome these disadvantages and threats.
First observe what successful businesses and communities are doing and evaluate which platform is the best for your business. Spot top customers who can be brand advocates, educated staff, build content and distribute those to engage customers and increase influence. Decide how would you measure success and based on the outcome, improve.
Social media can be blessing or curse depending upon the customer experience. Well-run businesses have less fear of customer power over social media as compared to poorly-run ones.
It is important to note that not joining social media is not the solution. Also, not just joining these platforms is the solution. A change in mind-set is needed to engage and collaborate with clear strategies and policies.