How will corporations differentiate themselves from their competitors? I don’t claim to have all the answers, but I do think that we are starting to see some areas that will impact how we use technology and how it can be used to further create closer relationships on the web.
It used to be that to make friends you needed to “invest” time with someone. That investment comes easily when you like that someone but when you have just some affinity with that individual he she becomes just an acquaintance. Enter the world or Facebook, Linked in, Twitter, Myspace etc… and you can now have hundreds if not thousands of “friends”. I guess the term friend is used to determine a fairly loose relationship here.
I am truly impressed to see how corporations are using the web to increase sales and relationships they make with their clients. The order here is important, first sales then purchases. I would like to submit to you here that this represents a year 2000 (I reuse the “Y2K” acronym here 😉 ) way of seeing an online presence. A few weeks ago I met a corporation that uses Facebook, to find out more about its clients and how they use their brands in order to increase sales. Read here, they are first and foremost interested in finding out more about their clients and then they are making the bet that their knowledge will translate into better products that increase brand fidelity. Don’t plan to throw away your traditional Business Intelligence/Data Warehouse just yet, but, I would like to suggest here that these traditional methods of data gathering and analysis can be enriched with the usage of social media.
We will take the social media “poster child” example of Facebook. At 500 million and still counting users, is there a more popular site out there?
I buy some technology and gadgets on the web. Other than entering my credit card information and email to accept the weekly newsletter and sometimes special saving pamphlet, that’s as far as my “relationship” goes! That is what I qualify as Y2K approach to online sales. Basically, you get in, browse, buy and leave once your business is done! And for some, it’s OK, as they have no wish to get involved with the corporations they do business with.
At a high level, this requires that the online merchant creates a web site or use a dedicated online retailer, use or build a credential store to securely have clients register and fill a Data Base of products.
How about, instead of developing for the “web”, why not develop for Facebook (or any other social media). The advantage here is that Facebook, like many other social sites and cloud operators, lets you into their world through a series of doors (in developer lingo Application Programmatic Interfaces or APIs) referred to as the Facebook Platform. The first one you will typically use is the one that authenticates the user. Once a user is authenticated on Facebook those same credentials can be passed to the application you are creating. All the user has to do is click on the ALLOW button. From that point on, hello Mafia World and Farmville apps. Keep in mind that, upon acceptance a user is giving permission to share potentially all of this information.
This is a Marketer’s dream! You now have great insights into the demographics of who and when they use, browse or talk about your brand. In other words, you now have a more significant relationship with your client. An old Vice President use to call this, customer intimacy. I never quite liked the term “customer” to depict a “client”. Maybe it’s just me?
At any rate, you should have a marketing plan that includes social media because I guarantee you either your competition is into it or worse perhaps people are talking about you and you have absolutely no idea they are!
Samy “TheBenz” Benzekry