You have probably been in hundreds of conversations like this, either as a participant or the originator.
Someone is considering a product and asks a question in a social forum. They get answers. Their purchase decision is heavily influenced, one way or the other, by the opinions of their peers. Most of the time, the companies in question don’t participate in the process.
Read through this thread of comments.
In this situation, you have:
- one prospective consumer asking a question
- another prospective consumer asking for similar input
- one brand detractor
- two brand promoters
- one brand advocate
Opportunities Missed By Brands
Social interactions like this are happening in greater abundance. GE Capital Retail Bank’s Major Purchase Shopper Study 2013 found that more than 80% of consumers use online resources to research products and brands before buying. This figure shows a 20% increase over the previous year.Instead of going into a store to evaluate products, connected consumers going to their computers and tablets. Before these individuals even step into a store, most of their decisions have already been made.Unfortunately, many brands are unaware of these conversations — even fewer are taking advantage of the opportunities within them. By choosing not to participate, these companies are also choosing not to build relationships with potential customers, rectify bad experiences and create new brand ambassadors.
What Brands Need to Do
Read through that thread once more. This time, put yourself in Sleep Number’s shoes. Here are some things you might want:
- to know of this conversation (you need social listening)
- to profile these people’s social persona (profiling)
- to direct people to various parts of the company for follow-up action (queues, workflow, automation)
- to understand just how valuable your promoters are (CRM integration)
- to reach out to the prospective consumer (engagement)
- to see how your efforts have succeeded or failed (reporting)
- to put an offer in front of the prospective consumer (paid ad)
Every brand has different needs, and yours may not align with the needs of Sleep Number in this scenario. However, social media has the potential to affect every brand, by propelling it forward or anchoring it down.
Empowered customers are connecting with companies and one another through social media. They’re giving brands an opportunity to nurture and grow these social relationships. The rest is up to brands.
To find out more about the power of the connected customer, check out our recent report on the changing social landscape. Download your copy of The Social@Scale Journal.