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Socially Speaking: How Connected are You?


Socially Speaking Logo“The Connected Consumer”. This simple term represents a huge shift in what people buy and where they’re spending their money. The term generally refers to a person that uses a myriad of technologies to research and discuss products, and actually make their purchases. We live in a world where people talk to (yes, TO) their phones, discuss products with random individuals anywhere in the world, make purchases before they get to the store (IF they even go), and publicly share a lot of information about themselves or the products they buy with just about anybody listening. Many consumers expect businesses to interact with them through several mediums including e-mail, blogs, text, Twitter, and Facebook.

Businesses face both challenges and opportunities in this new environment.  There are a few emerging technologies to consider that may help a business capture a higher share of the connected consumer’s spend.

Social Monitoring and Reputation Management
25% of search results for the World’s Top 20 largest brands are links to user-generated content*. Word of mouth has evolved through the use of social networks, blogs and consumer review sites. In the past, good or bad experiences were passed by one person to a few of their peers. Now, word-of-mouth experiences will be shared with countless friends or strangers. They live as permanent fixtures on the internet that affects web rankings and overall social reputation. Many businesses are struggling to process this abundance of information and properly respond to the feedback. Several tools have emerged to help a business monitor their reputation and decide when and how to participate in the social conversation.

Social CRM
Target recently shocked a teenager’s parents when it sent offers for an expecting mother to their house based on the girl’s purchasing patterns. The parents did not know she was pregnant but Target did. Retailers and restaurateurs are becoming increasingly adept at identifying consumers when they shop and building a profile. Several point of sale systems include customer tracking functionality that tracks profile data and purchase history. Integrated CRMs can track and store contact information, purchase history, preferences, patterns and approximate demographics. The general population is publicly sharing more about themselves on social networks including their favorite music, sports teams, foods and just about everything else imaginable. Services are emerging that help retailers match up the customers in their database to their online social profiles. Their CRM will become a true “Social CRM”, enabling them to communicate (read: market) in much more personal and targeted fashions.

Data Crunching
A Sunday issue of the New York Times contains more information than the average 19th-century citizen accessed in their entire life.
Existing “old-fashioned” tools already gather sales, customer and inventory data. Newer tools, such as the ones mentioned above, are pulling in reviews, social mentions and a whole lot more. Businesses are gathering data at staggering rates and it’s already more information than most businesses can make use of. New database tools and technologies, such as NoSQL and Hadoop, have been hitting the market to help crunch through massive data stores but most businesses don’t have the human or computer resources to process the job. Many retailers will turn to cloud-based firms that can take their data, process it and return actionable results that they can use to further drive their marketing and sales initiatives.

There are already several companies offering pieces and parts of the solutions discussed above. It’s likely that additional platforms will emerge that combine these tools to further connect businesses with existing and potential customers. Microsoft, and Toyota recently joined forces and invested ten million dollars into a platform called “Toyota Friend”. This new social network allows drivers to connect to their cars similar to how they connect with their friends on Facebook or Twitter. They get updated with status from their car and can further share them with friends, family and personnel from Toyota. My question is… when will privacy make a comeback, and who will invent the online platform equivalent of the “Privacy, Please” door tag?


Follow RSPA – @InsideRSPA
Follow David – @Golem5

We’d like to hear about your successes and your failures. Well, the short versions at least. #BADJOKE. If you have any questions, comments or suggestions, reach out to our “Socially Speaking” author on Twitter or LinkedIn so others can follow the dialogue. Or leave a comment below!

One Comment leave one →
  1. 2012/07/20 9:17 am

    Really enjoyed this post! It is crazy to think about how social media and new technologies have revolutionized the ways in which people make purchasing decisions and interact with brands. I just bought a Toyota, and I was unaware of the new “Toyota Friend” platform – who would have thought we’d be connecting with our vehicles via a social network? Thanks for sharing!

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