Communicating with customers used to be done on a very personal level many years ago. It used to be as grassroots as knocking door-to-door or entertaining patrons at a retail store or showroom. If you had customers from far away places, they would have had to call long distance or write you via snail mail and all this changed only upon the introduction of tollfree numbers and online tech that made email possible. More or less, these were the only ways open to companies to source customer concerns and to tap into their consciousness.
The same logic applies when you take the idea of communication from the side of your customers. How they are able to communicate their ideas, aspirations, issues with products/services, needs and wants used to be a cumbersome process characterized by the limitations of much older retail technology. Now that there have been groundbreaking advances achieved in retail technology in recent years, the communication lines have become more open and more accessible to all parties concerned.
No more middlemen
It used to be that companies through their marketing efforts, made product and service information disseminated and brand values implied to large groups of consumers via traditional media like TV, print and radio. This made it easy for companies to reach out to consumers but proved a bit harder for consumers to reciprocate owing to corporate bureaucracy. Traditional media institutions and the advertising model of specialized communication both stood in the way of direct contact between businesses and their consumers.
However, with the advent of online technology like the Internet, web browsers, and more recently, social media, the information relay had become more immediate — in real-time and interactive. The communication mode had finally become the ideal two-way traffic of info that it should be. Social media had finally gotten rid of the traditional media middleman.
The power to talk back
If there is one communicational privilege or power considerably potent enough to be put in the hands of consumers and companies, it must be the power to speak their minds out in a two-way communicational exchange. This is what social media has achieved for consumers and businesses. There are specific benefits that social media engagement offers both components of the retail cycle like the following:
- The power to measure market reach and channel it to profitable use. Social media analytics and their measuring tools have the ability to pinpoint where consumerist pockets of growth reside, and the nature of their wants and needs. The moment companies successfully zero in on such pockets of potential retail growth; it becomes easier for them to formulate retail strategy to capture markets.
- The power to effect change in brand philosophies and value delivery. Never in the history of global retail has a consumer group as powerful as that of the social media user been proven to influence the way companies do business. Brands getting into social media engagement have begun to establish more meaningful relationships with customers because the medium demands an alignment between consumer wants and needs and the philosophies of various brands. The power of a posting, tweet or shared content can potentially be helpful in building brand loyalty — or could also ruin brands if content strategists make wrong social media moves.
- The power to leverage online media to fight bad press. Companies and consumers who are social media users are equipped with the capability to challenge, refute or even demolish misleading, malicious, false, or unfounded information professed by traditional media in real-time. No one can now be held hostage by a belligerent press nor be exempt from the liabilities of Fact Check or being exposed via Wikileaks. Media institutions at the beck and call of once powerful corporations now find it embarrassing to go against the millions of social media users unwary of demolishing lame arguments by legit media guilty of sensationalism. The name of the game has become access to accurate and useful information.
The author juggles being a wife to an engineer and a mother to a witty toddler. Find Monique on Google+.