In two prior posts, Part 1 and Part 2, I discussed the role of social media beyond its application in marketing. This third installment connects some thinking on how social media can change the nature of products and services and social media technology’s role in a full customer experience.
Social Media Technology, Marketing and Advertising
Social media marketing generated significant attention in 2011 – 2012 as it seemed that every company was competing for ‘likes’ on Facebook. Social media is a boon for marketing professionals who needed a way to demonstrate their contribution and value through creating quantifiable results.
Traditional marketing channels and technologies, with their focus on one-way communications and a high latency between sending the message and generating sales had put the marketing profession on guard.
Social media technologies give marketers solve both problems, or at least they appear to on the surface. Social media technologies give marketing teams a way to invest relatively small dollars to generate tangible results such as clicks, likes and attention.
Attention is the goal of first generation social media marketing following the premise that sales follow from people who like your company or products on social media. The association is understandable, but with digital marketing response rates estimated at less than 1%, generating social media attention is not a sure fire replacement for other forms of mass media advertising and marketing.
I believe that marketing investments in social media technology will replicate prior mass-market models so long as it concentrates on generating customer attention rather than recognizing the realities of the customer experience. This will keep organizations from becoming Social Organizations, a process outlined in a book by the same name.
A framework for product classification and the customer experience
In the second post of the series, the entry introduced the idea of connecting social marketing investments with the different nature of company products and the customer experience. That post looked as different levels of product purchase frequency on the X-axis and product complexity on the Y-axis. This view identified a number of product/industry types as well as different sources of value shown in the figure below:
Please link to Beyond Social Media Marketing, Part 2 for more details and an explanation of the different sources of value (intrinsic, extrinsic, look good and feel good). This post concentrates on describing the role of social media in each of these areas based on an understanding of the customer experience, which has greater influence on purchasing decisions than marketing messages.
Anxiety in the customer experience
Anxiety is an important and overlooked aspect of the customer experience. Known as buyer’s remorse, measured as customer churn and viewed as a cost of doing business, anxiety or better yet a lack of customer confidence is a significant part of today’s customer experience.
Conventional wisdom ignores anxiety as an aspect of the customer experience. It assumes it away based on the idea that if we the company treat the customer consistently and fairly (based on our definition of both) then there is no reason for the customer to be anxious. Why would a customer worry if we are easy to do business with (ETDBW) have a strong brand (trust/image)?
After all that is why we invest in our brand promise and our ability to deliver it, so customers know exactly what they are going to get and can trust that they are getting the best deal! Statements to this effect look at only half of the customer experience equation – how the company does its job – which is a small part of what the customer sees, hears, touches, thinks and feels about your company and about themselves.
Anxiety arises in the gap between the decision/action of purchase and the customer’s realization of the moment of value. Consider the uncertainty you feel over making a decision where to eat lunch compared to making an investment decision, buying a car or signing up for life insurance. The longer the gap in time or the larger the gap in size/expense the greater the potential for anxious customers and a weak customer experience.
Whenever there is a gap, there is an opportunity for customer churn costing both retention and future revenue. Thinking about the customer experience exclusively in terms of customer-company interactions restricts the view and range of solutions available to a customer or the company.
Thinking of the customer’s emotional response to the enterprise based on perceptions and related feelings caused by the one-off and cumulative effect of interactions with a supplier’s employees, channels, systems or products. Is a start, but it still concentrates on interactions with the company and ignores interactions within and across a community. That is where social media comes into play and where I believe the next round of social media marketing lies.
In the next and final post will look at social media in each of the four areas.