At long last, someone has revealed that the Emperors’ new clothes don’t exist!
Finally, serious organisations are exposing the fact that social media does not sell things. The Wall Street Journal published an article revealing stunning news that “Social Media Fail to Live Up to Early Marketing Hype”.
As inevitable and predictable to sensible people as someone telling you that “it will rain sometime this year”, the report explains that organisations are starting to realise that racking up fans and “likes” is different to making sales to customers who care enough to part with money.
Many tech companies have been pushing the myth that it is crucial to get your brand elevated on Facebook and Twitter. While this spreads general awareness of your brand, a Gallup survey shows that social media has little to no influence at all on purchasing decisions.
Of the 18,000-plus people surveyed, 94% responded that they want to use social media primarily for connecting with family and friends, not companies. 62% say social media has no influence at all on their purchasing decisions and of the rest, 30% say there is “some” influence. When 94% of your customers don’t want to speak to you and 92% aren’t really influenced by you, perhaps there is a message here.
"When 94% of your customers don’t want to speak to you and 92% aren’t really influenced by you, perhaps there is a message here."
The truth is that many companies have concentrated on the symptoms not the causes and the result is a misalignment of the effect on customer relationships. We are dealing with generation D - those with the ability to Devour, if they like something or Demonise, if they don’t, as Pega CEO Alan Trefler noted in his new book Build for Change. But their social media activity is the symptom – the cause is what triggered their emotions when they interacted with the company in the first place.
What is it better to do: rectify a screw-up after the event, in the full glare of social media, or not screw up in the first place?
The Ritz-Carlton Hotel Co. cancelled its newly launched brand promotion on Facebook because they were gaining too many fans (almost half a million) but not generating sufficient engagement. They realised they wanted to get quality interactions, not just fans, and have now refocused resources on driving better interactions with their followers.
So, where is the smart money going now? It is being moved into individualising interactions with customers so that a “unique” relationship can be developed. This could be as simple as sending out a newsletter that is tailored to the needs and interest of the customer. One organisation has 200 potential stories but by using adaptive analytics and decisioning based on the data they have for each customer, they select the 12 most relevant for that specific customer’s newsletter. Another organisation in the pet insurance world knows whether you have cat, dog or budgie insurance and puts pictures of those animals on-screen when you log in. This, along with many hundreds of other rules designed to ensure an individual and unique experience, is far more likely to drive money into the coffers, rather than having a story about a kitten they “like” on a social network.
But it doesn’t stop there. Many organisations have simply lost sight of the fact that the ultimate question is “How does this brand make me feel?”. Addressing service quality at the point where the customer consumes your offering (i.e. is spending money) is 100 times more productive.
"Many organisations have simply lost sight of the fact that the ultimate question is 'How does this brand make me feel?'"
Giving operators the information they need at the point they need it, in the form they need it to service a request from a customer gives a far greater ROI in customer loyalty terms. Ensuring that a customer feels great because they have been advised of the most important thing, or presented with the very best offer at the optimum moment and through the right channel will send your NPS scores soaring. And the technology is there to deliver this now.
The smart companies are stealing a march on those who have not evolved their thinking. Last year, I was engaged with a major UK personal lines insurer who was looking to replace their CRM capabilities. All they could talk about was “Social Media” but when asked how many policies they had sold through this channel or how it affected their CRM or changed customers’ experiences, they were at a loss to answer. I have been watching their COR slide slowly into the red!
So, good on you Wall Street Journal and Gallup. Let’s get back to basics and make the customer journey engaging, simple and tailored to me as a segment of one. Then I might just “like” you.