Are you a friend?
by Jim Dayton
August 3, 2010
At Intouch, we talk to our clients every day. It’s our goal to establish great working — and in many cases — personal relationships with our clients. It is not uncommon for people today to include clients, colleagues and co-workers in their social networks. I’ll admit I have clients as friends in my social networks. They read my blog, they see my pictures and videos, and they know what’s going on with my family. It doesn’t feel weird. I’ve simply established myself as a person they want to engage with and vice versa. This translates easily to business; it is almost common sense.
But so many companies are still missing the mark when it comes to social media. They struggle with establishing themselves as a brand people want to engage with. So, why is it so hard for companies to establish themselves as friends with their customers in social media?
Is it the medium?
Recent surveys and studies have reiterated what many of us already know about social media:
- According to the TNS and The Conference Board’s “Consumer Internet Barometer: Second Quarter 2009” survey , 41.6% of U.S. Internet users use Twitter to “keep in touch with friends.”
- JPMorgan’s “Nothing but Net” report cited 78.1% of U.S. Internet users use social networking sites to “keep in touch with friends.”
- Ruder Finn’s Intent Index shows that 92% of U.S. Internet users go online to “connect with others.”
If this “social” shift has taken place, people using the Internet as a meeting place instead of research resource, shouldn’t we as marketers find a way to make friends with our customers?
Granted, people do still go online to educate themselves. According to Ruder Finn’s Intent Index , 96% of U.S. Internet users go online for this purpose. And I am not saying that you should stop providing relevant content via your product website. Instead, it is time to recognize that relevant content is only half of the equation. It is time for companies to engage their customers and become friends by providing relevant and timely content via a channel where the customer expects to be treated as a friend, an equal … not a customer.
Social media as a retention effort
So, when do companies start treating customers like friends? Often, this occurs once the customer has engaged frequently enough, completed a certain amount of transactions or given up enough personal information to be considered “loyal.” Retention programs are as old as business, and rightly so. As I’ve pointed out before, 80% of a company’s revenue comes from 20% of its customers. For marketing purposes, these customers are not only your loyal customers, they are your friends. And this 20% are the same customers your company should be engaging in social media.
It’s a very natural fit. In most cases, companies are already asking customers for their name, address and e-mail account. Why not ask for their Facebook or Twitter username and link them to your account to become friends, followers, or to join your group? Allow them to talk with other loyal customers and your company directly. After all, these are your friends.
For more information on making social media work for your pharma or health care brand, please contact your Intouch Solutions representative, or contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.