This week’s inspiration is drawn from a great piece of industry reading from Forbes Insights on Customer Engagement: Best of the Best. If you have some time, it is well worth a read. The article provides some excellent examples of customer engagement in both the on-line and off-line space and there are also plenty of great examples of where the introduction of technology has significantly contributed to an increase in engagement (and value) between business and consumers.
One particular point that seemed to be consistent across all the case studies was the use, and analysis of data to inform strategy and aid in obtaining a much better understanding of who the consumers are and how business can maximise engagement with them. (I will cover off on the use of and interpretation of data in more detail in a couple of weeks).
In the article’s summary, the sponsor (SAP) dropped this little gem into the narrative “The way that businesses engage with customers and manage relationships has radically changed. Today’s customers are digitally empowered through mobile and social technologies, and they are better informed than ever before. Customers are now in control of the relationships they have with their favorite brands—not the other way around.”
This got me thinking about a comment I made on another students post last week about Social Media engagement where I made an analogy that posting corporate messages on social media was like being invited to a party at someone else’s house where there are a whole range of discussions going on and rather than just joining in and being part of the conversation you just decide to change the topic and start talking “at” people about why you are so awesome.
As noted in an excellent 2013 paper by Robin Croft (Blessed are the geeks: An ethnographic study of consumer networks in social media, 2006–2012), the transition from one-way / push communications of the past to a community based two-way engagement and conversational model does appear to be a struggle for many businesses. In the Department that I work, this has manifested itself into an actual inclusion in the Social Media Policy to specifically not engage with the social media audience.
This points to an acute lack of understanding about how Social Media fits in to the communication landscape and ultimately leaves the audience isolated from the conversation the business claims it wants to be having.
As the Forbes article notes, customers are in control of this relationship and decide the conversation, so if we want to be part of it we need to understand how to work with the audience and not just force feed them the content we want them to have.
As marketing practitioners we need to move away from one way broadcasts on social media if we want the audience to engage with us, otherwise we risk the message quickly becoming more of a boredcast.
This is an add on to the post that I though I’d include which I came across today and it’s a really good example of two way engagement, it starts with a customer of Sainsbury’s in the UK making a comment on Twitter and went off from there.