One of the most important roles that social media can play as part of your overall communications strategy is that of listening or monitoring. Brands can use social media to not only learn what their customers think of them, but what sorts of things their customers and potential customers want. Listening offers you the chance to gather important market research as you seek to identify potential customers and turn them into actual customers.
But there’s a bit of a disconnect. Businesses and marketers spend so much time and effort obsessing over amassing likes/followers/share/pins/tweets/etc/etc/etc that we often forget that not all of them are our customers. In fact, many of them aren’t even potential customers. Just because someone likes your page, doesn’t mean you’re going to get any business from them.
Case in point: my daughter.
Elizabeth is a 23-year old college graduate. She LOVES Pinterest. I know because I follow her on Pinterest. I see her boards and I see what she pins. I also see what her friends are doing on Pinterest. They all have boards where they pin things for that wonderful wedding that they dream of having someday. They post items that they want in their dream home.
Marketers must salivate at this, looking at all the items that these young women want. But there’s a problem; a disconnect.
You see, I know my daughter. There’s no chance that she’ll be purchasing 90+% of those items. A $7,000 wedding dress? Dream on. I think I’ll start my own board called “Elizabeth’s Elopement” for pinning pictures of ladders…(Sorry, Elizabeth. I love you, but as my dad used to say “I”m not made of money!”).
And her Dream House board? I need to emphasize the word “dream”. She’s a pre-school teacher. I know how much money she makes. So unless she plans on marrying into some serious money, she’ll have to keep dreaming. So if you’re a marketer, don’t get too excited when you look at what my daughter is pinning.
By the way, Elizabeth, I notice that you have a board called “Dad’s Blog Posts” and you’ve only pinned one thing to it: a post I wrote about you when you graduated from college. Perhaps this new post will make it there as well. (hint)
But this is how we all use social media. We all dream. People might like Aston Martins and might share and pin all sorts of things about Aston Martins, but how many of them actually have a few hundred-thousand dollars laying around? And if they do, would they spend it all on one car? We window shop online in much the same way tourists window shop along 5th Avenue in NYC or Rodeo Drive in Beverly Hills.
Wish lists are not grocery lists. Wish lists are for dreamers, grocery lists are for shoppers. This is particularly true for luxury items, but even with sites like Amazon, my wish list is filled with plenty of books I’ll probably never purchase.
The real challenge for businesses is to find ways to separate the fantasy customers from the real customers; separate the people who just dream about owning your product from those who are actual potential buyers. It’s not always easy, but social media, the same tool that enables dreaming, also enables you to do your research. Through real listening and engagement, you can get a better of idea of which ones are worth pursuing; which ones have a better chance of moving through your sales funnel.
It’s not the number of likes, shares, pins, and tweets that count. Instead, pay attention to the context of those actions. Don’t confuse the two. How are people liking and sharing? What are they saying alongside their tweets and pins?
Watch closely, and pay attention. You might just learn how to separate the wheat from the chaff, the cream from the milk. Analytics can measure the sheer numbers, but you need to dig deeper to truly understand them. This is one reason why you can’t just automate things; you need to always have that human element that can interpret what is going on.
But don’t discount the dreamers. They might not be real prospects, but every time they like/share/tweet/pin they are telling others about you and your product, and you never know if there are any real prospects in that social pool. Just don’t count on all of your followers and fans to step up to the plate and purchase your goods.
How are you learning to differentiation between your real customers and your fantasy customers?
- Why social media strategy should NOT start with a drive for Facebook fans (businessesgrow.com)
- Customers Who Use Social Media Are More Vocal & Spend More (customersthatstick.com)
- Applying the Scientific Method to Your Social Media Plan (inklingmedia.net)
- Is Social Media a Waste of Time? (dannybrown.me)
- At Some Stage the Conversation Has to Advance (dannybrown.me)