The Age of the Social ConsumerNames can be confusing – especially when it comes to The Edelman Trust Barometer 2012 reinforced thisthat ever shrinking membrane between businesses and perception – indicating that, at best, trust in institutionstheir customers. Variously we call them customers, remains under pressure – with non-governmentclients, stakeholders and consumers. Sometimes these organisations trusted by only 65% of people, withpeople – for they are always people – are also our businesses languishing at 57%. Barely a pass mark.employees, partners, shareholders, suppliers and even And hardly what we would call a measure of success.executives.The lines have blurred.Let me just say that this has always and forever beenthe case. It’s just that in the past we have been happyto jump between roles – to change our mask as wepass security and to leave it at the door as we enterour homes. But over the last 20-30 years there hasbeen an erosion in the compact that we make withbusinesses that once allowed this play acting tocontinue. We no longer have a job for life. And we areequally likely to discard one brand for a competitor’s ata moment’s notice.The casualty in all this is, of course, trust. Click the button to view the Edelman Trust Report 2012 (Australian data)
The Age of the Social ConsumerThe Age of the Social Consumer is upon us – for no But was does this mean for business?matter where we fit on the business spectrum –whether employee, customer, partner or shareholder For while we are seeing a rise in this empowered, vocal(or any of the other 50 shades of stakeholder grey) – social consumer – we are also seeing a desire – orwe can agree on at least this: even an expectation – that businesses engage in complex and surprising ways. Social customers, tired When it comes to brands and businesses we of waiting at the end of never ending IVR queues are are ravenous – for content, services, products jumping to Twitter or Facebook to solve their problems and experiences. We are consumers – – finding the answer in the crowd, in their small connected to each other by the loose ties of networks of trusted participants and sometimes, just community, passion and interest – and our sometimes, in the hosted spaces hosted by forward allegiances are only as sturdy as our ever thinking brands. diminishing attention span. For it is clear that social media is not just about mediaOur organisations – especially our marketing – or about being “social”. It’s about penetrating theorganisations – have been completely outflanked by membrane around your business. It’s about going deepthe digital and social media transformations that have into the experience of your brand.rocked the online world. Unwilling or unable to trace thedirection of this revolutionary wind, our organisations But the question remains ... Are you ready?look dated, outmoded, very “twentieth century”.The social consumer is in control now and the shift inthe balance of power has been consolidated.
The SurveyWhen the first of these surveys were carried out in late2011/early 2012, I was interested in answering thatvery question.It felt like businesses were starting to get a handle onthe business value of social media and I wanted tofind a baseline that helped us track the shifts andchanges that I imagined would occur in the yearsahead.The first survey’s results, released in Q1 of 2012reinforced anecdotal evidence – that while businesseshad begun adopting social media there was still asignificant gap between business use and customerexpectations. And in a world where the social customer The figure above shows how IBM characterised theis king, that gap can be the difference between success “perception gap” in their 2011 report. Most startling isand failure. the clear link between purchase and discount –In 2011, IBM released a report on this phenomenon – indicating that both businesses and consumerscharacterising it as a “perception gap”. In reality, this agree that monetisation of the social business modelgap is the gulf between the type of customer is a priority. However, as this report confirms,experience and interaction that customers want and businesses are yet to prioritise this programmatically.the types of experiences and interactions thatmarketers think their customers want. Click the button to download the IBM report
The SurveyThis mid-year survey, however, has identified a number The report is divided into three sections:of interesting trends. For just as the world of socialmedia is one of constant change, the world of social 1. The new face of doing business looks atbusiness is one of constant adjustment. As you will see social consumers, their expectations and howfrom the various sections, business is recalibrating as these play out at the membrane of the brandwe speak. 2. The business value of customer intimacyThe survey itself has also undergone a transformation. investigates the style of interactions andAs a result of feedback, the questions were expanded engagementbeyond the consumer focus of the first survey to cover 3. The hidden power of enterprise socialtopics related to employee engagement, enterprise media focuses on the types of behaviour,social networks and the broader topics of business systems and processes that are being usedvalue within Australian businesses. behind our business firewallsIn short – what we are seeking to understand with thissurvey is the landscape inhabited by our SocialConsumers – in all their glorious shapes and forms. Purchase and download the Australian Social Business report 2012