Why Your Social Media Strategy Needs to Be About Them (Your Customer)

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Bruce Tucker, the author of All About Them, relates an interesting story about meeting with the Bacardi to talk about their latest rum offerings and how to brand Bacardi rum the right way. The presentation did not impress the seniormost Bacardi, who asked Tucker why the marketing hadn’t included any reference to the history and quality of the Bacardi name – the “Legend and Legacy” of the rum.

As Tucker relates the story, he then turned and responded, “The 20-somethings we spoke to couldn’t care less about that…[they are] disinterested in anything other their two ells – getting Loaded and getting Lucky.” (If you want to read the full blog entry, he also has a good story about a billionaire resort owner who refused to market services on smartphones because he had never used one.)

It’s a great example of how an owner can have one idea about a product (Legend and Legacy) and the target audience can have a totally different idea (Loaded and Lucky). That’s not good. It shows a dangerous lack of attention toward customers and leads to drastic marketing mistakes, which can tank a brand. In other words, don’t be like Mr. Bacardi when creating your social media strategy.

A Product is a Conversation

Many businesses, especially those in more pragmatic industries, still buy into the “If you build it, they will come” strategy. While there may be a place for that strategy, it’s not a good choice for modern product marketing. It allows brands to build up an image of a customer in their heads, a mythic buyer that doesn’t actually exist in the real world. When a business starts designing and marketing products for a customer who doesn’t exist, trouble is on its way.

Instead, brands must always remember that products are, in a very real way, a conversation. They tell the customers what you think about a product and how it should be used. They tell you what they think about it, and how they like to use it. You trade information back and forth. The product itself exists somewhere in the middle, molded by the business but ultimately defined by the customer. And like all conversations, it falls apart when one side refuses to listen. It’s good, then, that we have such powerful listening and learning tools available today.

Social Media as a Learning Tool

We’re used to thinking of social media as an outreach effort – bringing the message to viewers, engaging more naturally, bringing in more traffic or building awareness. But one of the most powerful facets of social media strategy is the learning opportunity it brings. Every day, you have the opportunity to find out how customers view your products, and what that means for your branding. So here are a few quick reminders when engaging in social media projects:

  • Look and Listen: No one likes that person who turns up at a party and only talks about themselves, without paying attention to whom they’re with or who may care. When on social media, do your share of looking and listening to see what your audience is up to. Yes, this takes more time: Make time for it. You need to know what people are saying and how they are saying it. Forums and comment sections are particularly good for this tactic.
  • Converse: With all our talk about conversation, you can bet that it’s an important part of your social media strategy. Don’t be afraid to ask people questions or to respond with your own perspective. This helps draw others out and gives more specific examples of what people think.
  • Pay Attention to Angry People: Some angry comments on social media can be safely disregarded (you know which ones). But most require attention. If you know what people are complaining about, you know how they see your products and brand. A negative response can often tell you as much or more than a positive response.

Don’t Makeup Customer Personas

A final note on this important topic: Customer personas are another useful solution to avoid “customer blindness.” But they must be used correctly. It can be tempting to build up a customer persona based on what you want them to be. “Oh yes, of course, our target customer lives here and does this and shops here”. But that’s just making the same mistake in a different way. Customer personas should always be informed directly by customer data – hard data on your audience and their habits. Start there to avoid any blind spots.

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