Making a purchase
Social media is more than just an exposure. It means more than simply being out there where your customers are. More than any other type of media, social media is a way of not only making contact and becoming “sticky”, it is also a way of maintaining long-term relationships and contact with customers and prospects.
We can compare this once more to the use of the traditional model. In days gone by (not that long ago, but it seems like an eternity) consumers would make a decision to purchase and then would, perhaps, eventually buy. This would be the end of the relationship.
OK, so things may not be as simplistic as that and there are plenty of examples of people that may be maintaining long-term relationships by direct mail and other forms of marketing. But the traditional model is basically that of (a) customer makes purchase (b) customer leaves (c) customer comes back of their own accord (if they can be bothered and if they remember).
The sale, once made, is the end point in all too many cases.
Social media changes this right from the outset. Via social media, the relationship often STARTS with the purchase or the involvement between customer and supplier.
Whereas, traditionally, the relationship is built and then discarded after a purchase is made, with social media, the relationship develops further and carries, potentially, on and on. This relationship is very powerful. It can sometimes be fragile but, used in the right way, it can shape future conversations, leading to further interactions and more purchases.
Don’t forget, the relationship is not simply between you and the consumer. It goes wider than that.
Consider the following conversation:
Jane: My camera does not work. I just bought it from you.
Acme Camera Shop: Check the batteries – a lot of people get them the wrong way round
Jane: I checked and you are right! It works perfectly!
Jane (to the global network): Glad I got the camera sorted. Acme Camera Shop fixed it with a simple message. Wonderful.
David: They sound like good people. I’ll check them out.
Can you see what is happening? Jane and the camera shop have a relationship but it goes further than that. Jane connects with thousands of people around the world (do you remember I have 70,000+ people just on my Twitter account?) and what she posts online can be read and digested by them all.
This helps Acme Camera shop in a number of ways. First, they have solved a potential problem for a customer. Secondly, Jane has evangelised about the company via her own channels and without any prompting. But thirdly, the company now has valuable information about a prospective product fault which can be corrected either in this version or via another modified version.
What is more, the company can put this type of problem in a more prominent position by adding it to their faqs, wiki, blog or by tweeting via Twitter (or other social platform) about it. This, in the right hands, is powerful stuff.