Wednesday, July 24, 2013

7 Principles of the Social Customer

The digital age and its explosion of social media has changed the customer’s buying cycle. With it came the rise of a new kind of customer—one that has been known to shake up even the most respected brands, known as the “Social Customer.” The Social Customer is every man, woman and child that is an active participant of social media – which is in about 1.4 billion people. The voice of the Social Customer has proved to be so powerful that it has created social media mayhem for companies from small to large.
According to Mobile Youth, here are the seven principles of the Social Customer, which provide new insights for customer experience and consumer behavior:
1) Social Motivations, Not Social Media
If we want to understand the Social Customer, we must first understand their motivation. Social motivation reveals why trends happen. It’s easy to look at social media as the answer but simply making media “social” doesn’t make it more social.

2) Social by Design
Our two most basic social needs are the need to belong and the need to be significant. When unable to feel belonging and significance, we experience negative emotions often resorting to what, appears to the observer, irrational behavior but in reality has a more logical underpinning in the Social Code –which is every interaction from communication to how and why we buy.

3) Offline Beats Online
Even in the digital age, face to face communication remains king. While this generation may be comfortable with modern communication technology, technology is a means not an end.

4) The Disconnected Generation Wants More Relationships
The Disconnected Generation care more about the inefficiencies of daily life because these inefficiencies are the meaning they seek. The basic interaction and social fabric of our lives afforded to previous generations is being lost and youth are leading the charge to reclaim these basic privileges through the products they buy.

5) 90% of Communication is Passive
Consumer psychology shows how much of our social meaning is communicated through mundane behaviors. Just because we don’t see it or it doesn’t appear obvious doesn’t mean that it’s meaningless. When parents walk into the back room and see their teen children “hanging out” with friends they are often perplexed by how unproductive this behavior is.

6) Everything is Social
Years of mobile industry research into how young people use smartphones highlights how everything is a Social Tool. People don’t buy stuff, they buy what stuff does for them. The mobile phone is a powerful social tool, but not the only one available.

7) The More You Track the Social Customer, the Less You Understand
If you want to better understand buying behavior, we can’t rely on more data. Insights come from an emotional connection that evades the transparent world of Big Data. Students send pictures of themselves making funny faces, sticking out their tongues or virtual doodles made from the back of classmate’s heads. And that means, Big Data misses out because it can’t track what’s not shared in the public domain.

Amanda Ciccatelli, Social Media Strategist at IIR USA in New York City, has a background in digital and print journalism, covering a variety of topics in business strategy, marketing, and technology. She previously worked at Technology Marketing Corporation as a Web Editor where she covered breaking news and feature stories in the tech industry.  She can be reached at Follow her at @AmandaCicc. 
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