Co-written with Laura Newnham
In case you’re wondering, the social customer is the person sitting opposite you. The one asking Twitter if there are any great pasta places in Cape Town to eat at tonight. It’s also the person standing next to you, browsing a retail brand’s Facebook page on their mobile phone, to see if their favourite item is available on the shelves.
They’re part of the X and Y generations, around the world - generations that have never known a world without the Internet. They are socially aware and expect to be heard in a place where a million voices are all talking at once. Others might see this as being demanding, but they simply see it as their digital needs being met. If social customers are able to go online and start a conversation at any time, then social business should be ready to respond at any time.
So, How Do You Spot A Social Customer?
A social customer uses online portals to speak, to be heard and to be acknowledged. They value the experiences of other trusted individuals such as their peers. Through this, they allow the opinions of those they trust to influence their purchasing decisions. They also freely express their experiences with a brand or product online and influence the opinions of others – a social circle of influence.
- Use the Internet to learn more about brands and products
- Trust the opinions of people in their online networks
- Expect brands to engage with them online
- Expect brands to listen to and answer them online
- Often expect brands to keep track of all their previous interactions with the brand across all channels
There are different types of social customers:
- The Information Gatherer: researches products and brands online
- The Active Participant: participates in online brand experiences
- The Opinion Sharer: goes one step further by expressing their opinions online - this includes reviewing products, negative product feedback and customer service experiences
- The Brand Advocate: influences the decisions of others by encouraging them to use a specific brand or try a particular product
Social customers can be one, or possibly all of the above, and a business that hopes to fully immerse itself in digital should be prepared with the suitable foundations to engage with them. This includes an awareness of the fact that businesses are now offering products and services to people who have the power to socially influence, and either promote or degrade their business using word of mouth marketing. As the social customer becomes the norm, these voices will become louder and spread further. It simply isn’t enough for a brand to have a social media presence, they need to leverage the influence of these customers and build their businesses around them.