I think that we can all agree that the ultimate goal of any vendor is to increase sales, increase profits etc. etc. SM offers another medium through which said vendors can interact with their potential customers but the messages and nature of the conversation needs to be different. Prior to a sale being made or a recommendation being given, the customer must be engaged. The new breed of customer (hitherto referred to as the “Social Customer”) is more discerning and demanding than ever and consequently they respond less favourably to traditional one-way messaging being forced upon them by profit hungry vendors. The Social Customer is bombarded with messaging through various channels and therefore gaining their attention must be the first step before you can even consider selling or converting them to advocates. This is where knowing your customer can pay off, listen to them, engage in conversation and nurture the relationship. Although this stage of the courtship may be difficult to justify in terms standard metrics such as ROI; a long sighted approach will recognize that creating a strong relationship with the right influencers and creating powerful brand advocates has the potential to harness the multiplier effect of the Social Customer and this is where the true payoff lies.
Step one however still requires a vendor to breakthrough the clutter and grab the attention of the targeted consumer. This takes time, money and resources however the payoff can be vast. Vendors are no longer going head to head with with traditional competitors (Coke vs. Pepsi etc.) in this space, they are competing with any company who may be vying for the ATTENTION not the direct business of the Social Customer. You need to be heard in order to grab the attention and later the business and good favor of the “right” Social Customers.