The Perception Gap in Social
Customers do not want a relationship with your business, they want the benefits a relationship can offer to them. I have been stating this for a couple years, as many people I know have also stated and written about. You may or may not agree with this, as it has seemed like a bit of a political debate, without some really solid data to back-up either perspective. IBM recently published the result of 2010 study, which revealed some interesting data points. I will be cautious, as data can be interpreted differently from person to person, but this study is grounded in primary research, published by the IBM Institute for Business Value and my analysis of the report suggests that it is worth considering.
Consumers were asked what they do when then interact with businesses or brands via social media. I am not sure which is more surprising to me, that being part of a community and feeling connected are near the bottom, or that purchase and discount are at the top. To back up a little bit, results also published in the same report found that only 23% of consumers, who go to social media sites, go to interact with brands. They go to interact with family and friends (70%). Another interesting point is that while 23% are interested in interacting with brands 22% actually go to write a blog, that is a finding which I am going to need to think on for a bit. Finally,
“just over half of consumers surveyed say they do not engage with brands via social media at all (55 percent).”
The Business Side Gap
The business perspective is more interesting, and frankly more valuable to anyone who happens across this post. The simple reason is that a business needs to care about what the customers are saying and doing, not what they ‘think’ is right or worse, portrayed by someone else who told them the ‘right’ thing to do. OK businesses, take a look at the listing your peers gave when asked the why they thought customers were following their companies on social sites. The data clearly states that businesses believe much more strongly that consumers interact with them to feel part of the community – guess what, they really don’t. The consumer wants something more.
“Businesses hoping to foster closer customer connections through social media conversations may be mistakenly projecting their own desires for intimacy onto customers’ motivations for interacting. Interactions with businesses are not the same as interactions with friends.”
The gap is pretty wide, almost as wide as the current NFL players versus owners. But, in this case it is not a matter of compromise and working to get both sides to see the other perspective. The only real opinion that matters is what your customers think, correct?
What about Advocacy?
I am not sure about you, but I have seen a lot of Senior Executives talk about “getting closer” to their customers, partners, ecosystem, prospects (IBM 2010 Global CEO Study – 88% want to get closer to the customer). In order to answer the war cry from the C-suite, marketers and executives (from this survey) believe the answer is social media engagement. However, the data from the consumer side suggests otherwise – or best it is inconclusive. The issue seems to be that you (company) are already close to your advocates; 64% of stated that passion for a brand needs to exists prior to interacting with that brand.
“In other words, consumers who engage already have an affinity for that brand or company, and mere participation via social media may not necessarily result in increased loyalty or spending. But a recommendation from a friend or family member could make a difference.”
The answer to the riddle seems to be to encourage consumers to share their experiences with friends and family. Make that easy and you now have a better chance of encouraging those at the tipping point to become advocates for your brand. I am not going to go retro and start defining Social CRM, been there, done that! I am going to suggest that you need to start thinking like a customer, outside-in, not inside out. It is not about control of the conversation, it is about mutually beneficial value. A fair exchange. Social media is part of something we call the customer engagement continuum, aka consistency of interactions and touch points independent of the channel used. A friend shared a term with me early this week which seems to fit “Reverse Logistics” – to me, it fits here because the perspective that matters is the customers.
Mea Culpa (March 24th, 2011 – Update)
There are great comments on multiple locations on this topic. I am most appreciative for all the comments. If you would like to see what others are saying, elsewhere, here are few links:
- Rethinking the Customer Journey
- The Simplest Thing I Ever Had to Write
- Context Integration, the Future of System to System Interactions
- The Evolution of Customer Community
- The Fine Line Between Personalization and Creepy
- Experience Innovation
- Maybe We are Using the Wrong Words to Describe Collaboration
- Enterprise Customer Experience, A Convergence
- Context, the Difference between Information and Knowledge
- Who is the Clutch Player on your Team?
- @HollyDavisPhx Love you guys, but why start something totally new? Participate in lots of ongoing chats #custserv #LEVTalk 11 hours ago
- @ekolsky Must be a matter of planet alignment... 12 hours ago
- @ekolsky How are the snakeskin boots? I feel like I am missing context, yet again 12 hours ago
- @nitinbadjatia One never knows exactly what Gartner is really including in "CRM" - Bigger numbers get more press too #justsayin 14 hours ago
- Gartner Predicts CRM Will Be A $36B Market By 2017 - Forbes lnkd.in/HAEeA5 15 hours ago
- Known Issue: Subscriber Counts and Stats 3/18-3/20 March 21, 2013
- Known Issue: Subscriber Counts and Stats September 21, 2012
- CRM and IIW #futureofwork October 30, 2011
- How 'content curators' are connecting consumers | Changing Advertising Summit | guardian.co.uk October 21, 2011
- Facebook friend tally is associated with differences in brain structure | Science | #futureofwork October 19, 2011
- Strategic Ambiguity « Mitch Lieberman – A title would limit my thoughts October 19, 2011
- One on One: Jeff Jarvis, Author of 'Public Parts' | #futureofwork October 18, 2011
- Fly Fishing in Facebook | thinkJar October 18, 2011
- 'Creepy' Path Intelligence retail technology tracks shoppers | #futureofwork October 14, 2011
- 7 Secrets About Social Media Users, Revealed October 14, 2011
- Facebook: the Law Says You Can't Have Your Data October 13, 2011
- Are Workers Too Productive? #futureofwork October 11, 2011
- Companies Adopt Gaming Techniques to Motivate Employees - WSJ.com #futureofwork October 11, 2011
- LinkedIn Acquires Social CRM Company Connected - Forbes October 6, 2011
- 3 Ways to Use Social Network Analysis for Marketing | #FutureOfWork October 6, 2011