Alan bought a brand new home theater from a leading consumer electronics manufacturer. He shares a picture of his new buy with his friends on Twitter, mentioning the manufacturer’s official Twitter handle in his tweet. The manufacturer returns Alan’s favor by gifting him a $250 gift coupon for his next buy. Pooja ‘Likes’ her favorite shoe brand’s official Facebook page. She enters herself into a caption contest run on the page and she wins herself a new pair of shoes. Many more like Alan and Pooja, are reaping the benefits of interacting with their favorite brands online.
It’s not just the fans conversing with their favorite brands; the action is reciprocated by the brands. The brand may not chose (or have the bandwidth) to respond to each and every post, but they interact with their fans/customers through offers, contests and by sharing news about the brand. In short, more and more brands are becoming interactive. They realize that in order for them to stay ahead of the curve or at the least, to jump on the train their competitors seem to be taking, they need to broaden their horizons. Everybody, right from the mom and pop store around the corner to an iconic brand retailing in a fancy mall, recognize this and they’re all out to woo their customers. Today’s consumer has much more options than she would’ve had a decade ago and with the advent of social media and booming e-commerce businesses, there’s no room for complacency.
Social media has made consumers more empowered and they like having the upper-hand. They like being tended and paid attention to, they like the fact that they can influence their peers with their buying decisions and most of all they like that they can garner quicker responses from the brands. View a presentation from Zappos on the subject. Following in the path of brands like Best Buy and JetBlue, a lot of brands have expanded their customer service onto multiple social media channels as well. For B2C brands, it probably isn’t a matter of choice anymore, when it comes to leveraging social media to interact with their customers. However, there’s still very less incentive for B2B brands to engage with fans on social media. This is especially true when it comes to technology brands since the purchases run into millions of dollars and also because most of the high-level decision makers in customer organizations are still agnostic to social media. B2B organizations have to display patience and not chase instant ROI. Brands that are spoken about and are visible will benefit eventually and if you don’t have an active presence on social media, you may just miss the bus.
Statistics prove that interactive brands have had an edge over their competitors and this trend will continue.
Source: AYTM Market Research
It pays, quite literally, to interact with your consumers in an age where social media has overtaken conventional media. Remember, the consumer can make or break your band depending on how you chose to engage with them.