|You did say “All I can eat?!”
|Your challenge (a.k.a. homework) for sometime this month is to eat without guilt
: Be a social consumer. Go to the information buffet
in the industry you frequent (whether for profit or nonprofit; think about where your competition lies) and eat up. Stuff your little cheeks full. All you can eat for a week
. Find people to #like and #follow. Choose whatever medium(s) you wish. Facebook. Twitter. LinkedIn. Pinterest. Google+. Maybe have five folks on your staff do this, with each choosing a different social networking platform. Then wait.
After one week: Feeling satisfied? Comfortably full? Got indigestion? Still hungry?
This is research into satisfaction of appetites
. Recently, I stumbled on a post by Brian Solis
describing a similar #customer experience quest by Andrew Blakeley
. Blakeley assumed the role of a consumer and set out to like
every brand on Facebook that presented an opportunity to connect – whether the invitation came via email, websites, advertising or shopping. He liked
a total of 46 brands in one week. Guess what he found?
Most brands are not considering consumer experience beyond the barest minimum of engagement with their brand. Blakeley observed that only 10 out of the 46 brands offered a reason why consumers should like them. Once liked, the experience degraded. Aside from an occasional contest, he felt largely unrewarded. Most notably he learned that the online experience for consumers was undefined or uncharted, leaving consumers to fend for themselves to find relevance within the engagement without any reinforcement to brand value or story. He summed up his experience thus:
|Image courtesy of BlackTie Digital Marketing
My week as a social consumer left me tired and confused. It left my Facebook newsfeed so crammed with nonsense to the point that I could scroll entire pages without seeing my friends… For an industry that focuses endlessly on providing consumers with “benefits” and “reasons to believe” here were a lot of marketing asking people to take an action, without telling them what they stood to gain from it. In 2011 it’s more or less a given that your brand can be found on Facebook, and consumers know that. What they don’t know is why they should bother.
The type of buffet we offer to our consumers necessarily colors their appetites and feelings about us. Should they come to our place because we offer the best value? The freshest ingredients? The most kid-friendly joint? Early-bird specials? We must give them a whole package: first a compelling reason to engage; then delivery on our promise. If the customer experience is a good one, they’ll come back. If not, there are plenty more places for folks to consume an excellent meal.
Are we listening to, and acting upon, customer feedback? If they want seasonal menus and we offer the same thing year-round, perhaps they’ll become bored. If they want small bites and we offer only full meals, they may not see a match. Social media is not just about pushing out our message and socializing meaninglessly; it’s about learning about customer expectations and then delivering tangible value and improved experiences. Only by truly listening, and acting on what we hear, do we have a chance of developing lasting relationships over time.
And what if we have more than one restaurant? Perhaps we can feed different attitudes? How do we get someone who regularly enjoys our email café to also sample our pinterest snack bar? What added value is there that would persuade them to subscribe to our blog, join us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter? No one wants to receive too much food or too little. No one wants to receive endless spam. How do we persuade them this is not what we’re about?
I’ve little doubt that most of us do not consider what we send to folks to be spam. But spam is in the eye of the beholder. Which brings us back to the social media challenge. Do the homework. Then take the sniff test. If it smells like spam and it looks like spam, chances are… So, find out what feels like spam to you. Is it an e-news that says almost exactly the same thing every time it’s sent? Is it an exhortation to tweet your friends with a photo of a funder presenting an E.D. with a check? What are other businesses feeding you that you don’t want or like? What are they failing to offer?
After you finish your homework, take awhile to gather the results. It could take a few months before you get a sense of whether the brands you liked or followed are too much in your face or seemingly ignoring you. As interactions occur, keep a chart and note your reactions and feelings. If you’re like many consumer
s, you’ll start to learn that the fact you liked a brand does not really mean you’re a fan. In fact, a study published by Exact Target called The Meaning of Like (you can download it) found only 42% of consumers agreed that marketers could interpret a like as such. What does this mean for businesses?
|We Can’t Bully Customers into Loyalty*
We have to go beyond like to ‘customer experience’. Because getting a like, similar to making a single sale or getting a first donation, is not going to build our brand over time. It’s what happens next… and next… and next… that makes the difference. The good news is that it’s easier to get folks who’ve already made a decision to make that same decision again. It’s up to us to earn the renewal by treating our friends to the best experience possible – and this means we must be customer-centric. We must constantly ask: What’s in it for them? (Just as you should ask, when doing your homework, “what’s in it for me?”). Once we figure out our consumers’ value proposition, all we have to do is deliver.
To quote the brilliant Brian Solis one more time: In social media, it’s less about caveat emptor and now about caveat venditor, let the seller beware.
*Cartoon by Tom Fishburne.
Do you know why you’re on social networks? If so, do you know why your constituents are there? Is it a match? Are you or they overloaded?
What may you do differently moving forward?
I think Howard Schultz would agree with your closing point.
Thanks Jim! 😉
Excellent observations and suggestions, as usual.
Thanks so much Matthew. I appreciate your support!