Whether you’re encouraging them to or not, your customers and prospects are talking about you and your products online. At any moment, shoppers can get the instant feedback they crave from both strangers and friends online – Trendwatching calls it “NOWism.”
This isn’t to suggest that companies no longer have a hand in branding. The key to branding in the social age is to feed the conversation. As Sam Decker wrote on our blog last year, successful social media marketing is about soliciting structured feedback relevant to shopping and buying, and making this feedback available to customers making purchase decisions. Enable conversation between your customers, publish this content where it can help other shoppers, and join the conversation wherever appropriate.
Social media – it’s not just for B2C anymore.
Once viewed strictly as a B2C tool, B2B companies are increasingly embracing social media. According to the report, 60% of B2B marketers plan to increase social media spending in 2010. 46% of B2B marketers cited “getting customer feedback” as a reason they use social media, the third most indicated reason behind “demonstrating thought leadership” (60%) and “generating leads” (49%).
B2B providers stand to gain from customer feedback on products and services just as B2C brands have. And due to the more relationship-focused nature of most B2B operations, B2B brands may have even more to gain from opening up to customer interaction.
Fans and followers are more likely to buy and recommend than before.
Refreshingly, this report doesn’t attempt to imply causation. Correlation and causation are confused and misrepresented too often with regard to social media. We can’t yet point to why, but the report notes that survey respondents indicated that they are more likely to buy from at least one brand since becoming a fan of the brand on Facebook (51%) or a follower of the brand on Twitter (67%). Respondents were also more likely recommend at least one brand since becoming the brand’s fan (60%) or follower (79%).
These conversations are already happening on social media, and they are affecting the behavior of your customer base. Having a concrete social media marketing strategy isn’t just icing on the cake for marketers anymore. Social media matters for your business now, whether you’re B2C, B2B, or both.
Is your brand tuning in? Do you have a strategy to capitalize on customer conversation?
Consumers are increasingly turning to each other for product or service information before making a purchasing decision.
Download the research for a look at retailers’ perceptions of the importance of user-generated content.