How Do You Talk to Your Consumers? Social Media and Brand Leverage
Have you ever been to a party and been cornered by a self-opinionated, self-centred bore? Take away the drink, the food on sticks and the bad music and you might as well be describing the experience of half the consumers in the world when they go on their social media streams. There’s something about the social media that lends itself to the worst kinds of interactions as well as the best – self-obsessed brands yelling about their new products all the time, the online equivalent of a noisy toddler in a theatre.
The thing is: there’s an art to communication. People who know how to talk and listen, to engage and interact properly, have a better time at parties than people who don’t. In the long term, they make friends and find themselves in a position to influence others.
So today’s unpalatable truth for your brand may be this: unless you are one of the few, you’re probably acting like the Ancient Mariner. Loud, self-opinionated and boring, your incessant wittering about this season’s shoes is driving everyone potty – and more importantly, it’s driving them away.
A conversation is an art form, a gentle play of give and take. Your consumer wants to take useful things away from his or her interaction with you. He or she wants to feel that he or she is contributing something, that he or she is being heard, and that he or she is valued for what he or she knows and represents.
The key point around which your branding worries should revolve lies right at the heart of this. It’s a question: how do you make something that doesn’t really exist, and certainly isn’t a real person, have meaningful relationships with actual human beings?
It is unfortunately a lot easier to point out what not to do than it is to understand how you should proceed. Don’t talk at your consumer. Don’t advertise. Don’t make everything about you.
So here’s a thought: with social media opening the gates for consumers to own and shape the brands they love, why not give them the opportunity to start the conversation? After all, it’s a lot easier to engage with someone when you listen and they lead. Social media surveys can impart relevant information about customers, which can be used over time to turn them into friends – for example, by developing product-relative services (like proprietary apps) designed to genuinely enhance your consumer’s experience of your brand.
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