Business Management

Bruno Teuber (UK) - Getting Under the Skin of the Social Customer part I

Navigating through a changing world

Over the past few years, an increasing number of brands have started to realise the potential of engaging with their customers online, and we're now at a tipping point where it is very obvious to see who truly gets ‘social' and who doesn't. If you look closely, many of the brands that market themselves as ‘social', just because they have a Twitter feed or a Facebook page, are usually anything but.

You may be sick of hearing the phrase ‘social media', but there is a reason it is so prevalent. The reality is that the traditional customer/brand power balance has fundamentally changed and today the customer is in charge of the relationship - not the brand manager. We have reached a point where customers have new levels of expectations and have a far greater influence than ever before - and there is remarkable pressure on organisations to respond effectively in order to remain competitive and simply in business.

For many organisations, however, social media strategies still seem like an afterthought or even an experiment. Many have not gone beyond setting up a Twitter account and sporadically tweeting U.S. focused announcements, or creating a Facebook or LinkedIn profile to increase their reach, or build a list of ‘followers' and ‘likes'. Because the relationship this type of behavior creates is so shallow, from a customer perspective this approach can seem disjointed and certainly fails to instill confidence that the brand is totally engaged and on their wavelength. For organisations that want to prosper in tomorrow's market, they have to get savvier when it comes to the social customer - they need to get under the skin of their customers, socially.

Running a social business

We know that running a truly social business means much more than experimenting with social media. It requires time, attention, and in many cases, transforming the way businesses behave. The key to achieving success is by putting the customer at the heart of your organisation, in every way possible.

The term ‘CRM' or even ‘social CRM' still ignites connotations of a technology driven philosophy. At Lithium, we instead prefer to talk about how brands must now engage and build genuine two-way relationships for their social customers in this new era of social business.

Our heritage lies in professional gaming, and our experience of building and managing online communities for the world's largest brands has shown us that in order to really make a difference to customers, organisations need to develop advocates and ‘superfans' to help facilitate better customer relationships and in turn increase. In turn, online communities need to be effective and fun in order to make people participate and for brands to see a desired return. It is for this reason that brands need to think very carefully about the relationship they want to build with their customers and how they can inspire loyalty.

Part 2 published:1 of October

By Bruno Teuber, VP & GM (UK), Lithium Technologies


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