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Social Networks are Touchpoints for Customer Acquisition and Retention

Touchpoints serve as the point of contact between a buyer and a seller. As the race to socialize commerce escalates, these touchpoints represent the nodes that define the human network, connecting people across the social Web and uniting them around common interests, themes, and movements.

While the technology to connect buyers and sellers on the social Web is universal, the architecture for true engagement is antiquated. Customers are flocking to the social web to not only connect with friends, family, and peers, but also the brands that attract their attention. However, there is a tremendous disconnect between the volume of potential customers and the brands who truly understand how to find and more importantly, how to establish mutually beneficial connections with them.

The roadblocks that contribute to the absence of traffic on the bridges built between consumers and brands are trivial once brands understand the dynamics of social engineering and the allure of content in order to stimulate transactions.

Everything starts with an acute awareness of where existing and potential customers are discovering and sharing information today combined with a genuine appreciation for what moves them. The moment we have the insight necessary where to construct our presences, we can then engage with influencers, peers, and consumers based on a transparent foundation of contributing value, direction and resolution to each interaction.

According to research conducted by ForeSee, the opportunity for online retailers is profound. In the 2010 Social Media Report, ForeSee observed that 60% of online shoppers already use social media sites and networks regularly. And, 56% of those online shoppers friend or follow retailers, but they can only do so, if the retailer is actively engaging within those networks. The study found that only one-fourth of the top 100 e-tailers (e-retailers) has yet to create a Facebook page.

ForeSee found that of all the social networks frequented by online shoppers, Facebook consistently earned the top spot.

56% of online shoppers frequented Facebook, followed by YouTube at 22%. MySpace, believe it or not, ranked third with 15% and actually edged out Twitter by 4%.

However, pay attention to the real opportunity. While existing users are important, over 30% reported that they do not use social sites…at least not yet.

If only 25% of the top 100 online retailers maintains a Facebook page and with Facebook ranking as the most active network among online shoppers, the following data should be more than enough to change 2010 marketing plans posthaste.

Over 60% of consumers follow one-to-five brands online with another 21% following six-to-ten.  10% actually reported following 11-20 brands and 8% stated that they follow over 20 of their favorite products and services.

What motivates them?

Affinity and allegiance are of course among reasons for following brands, but as documented late last year, consumers are also motivated by receiving invitations for events, special offers or promotions.

For those skeptics who have yet to allocate funds and resources to engaging customers and prospects in social networks, perhaps this information will erode suspicion.

Your customers ultimately will engage with their favorite brands where and when possible, but eventually, your absence will eventually contribute to the insignificance of the brand as competitors will ultimately step in and capture the attention and loyalty of the very people you need to reach.

This research is testament to the rapid evolution of customer acquisition, retention, as well as defining the new landscape for advocacy.

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139 COMMENTS ON THIS POST To “Social Networks are Touchpoints for Customer Acquisition and Retention”

  1. Go2Mach2 says:

    Thanks Brian…Good Points.

    I agree it's all about establishing the right connections; but more importantly, keeping people interested in the message. While Social Networking sites like Facebook and YouTube are great mediums for getting the message out – Social Marketing works best when we communicate a consistent Brand Marketing message – http://www.stellarpointgroup.com/marketing-stra

    Social Networks are effective marketing tools as long as the message is current, interesting and useful to end users. Thanks Again…

  2. Thanks Brian, as always awesome content. Xspond, the company for which I am the social media editor, helps businesses capitalize on social media endeavors (http://www.xspond.com). Our clients have experienced the benefits of the incentives approach to Facebook and other social media sites – offering fans exclusive deals and fun give-away prizes. Fans are showing their appreciation, spreading the word about these clients' innovative use of social networking.

  3. Mike Stenger says:

    Totally agree with that second to last paragraph Brian! If you don't provide a way for further connection, they will further connect with your competitors. Then, they have the chance of winning them over while you've just lost a potentially valuable customer.

    I did find it interesting that over 30% don't use social sites which to me just means that there's an even bigger opportunity for social media to continue growing.

  4. Ed says:

    I'd be interested to learn:
    -How long do people follow brands 1-5.
    -What is the churn rate?
    -Do they follow primary brand(s) during a problem/resolution? Temporarily?
    -Do they follow permanently after successful resolution?
    -Do they follow brands they're fans of the same ways
    that they follow a company during a unique or common issue?

  5. BryanJones says:

    Thanks for the post, Brian. It is just common sense that a consumer makes choices based on connectedness. I'm glad to have another well-reasoned response to the question, “Why should we invest in social engagement?”

  6. Kristen Tom says:

    Social Media has definitely enabled companies to create better relationships with their customers. It's not only easier for both parties, but also more effective. I love how social media is revolutionizing business.

  7. briansolis says:

    Well said…thank you.

  8. suyogmody says:

    Couple of other lenses that can be added to this post –
    1. Does the social media presence actually affect the purchase decision? (outside of coupons/promotions)
    2. Is this just digitizing of an offline activity that happens through advertising?

    Nice post! Lots of thinking material here!

    • briansolis says:

      Indeed. My work shows that social media can affect every step in the decision making cycle…including purchases and referrals.

    • Sandi says:

      I am still confused on determining ROI of social media. Can you give some examples? Why doesn't Apple engage in social media. I can find iTunes but no official presence of Apple the company.

  9. Thanks. I agree.

    I have been a member of a community since 2001-02 but the community closed down in 2009. Since then I have been active on Twitter and I feel ignored sometimes by the brand. Even though I eat, sleep and breathe the brand.

    I think you have to acknowledge your key enthusiasts and they will be happier. It does not matter what point they are in the biz.

  10. jonnylucas says:

    Excellent approach Brian, thanks for sharing so much value!

    To engage is to find the right customers and make them come repeatedly to your business, in this case, your social media presence (profiles). Motivating your customers could be done from many ways. Maybe the ones that cause more interest are the opportunities when you surprise your customers with something new, attractive and beneficial for them. Check Startups.com Q&A to join some interesting conversations and share others experiences.

  11. I'm not surprised by the online shopping data. I think Facebook out of all the social media sites is the best suited for consumers. Not to make it too simple, but it has the space to get your message across and it makes it easy for consumers to digest all within the site. Other sites, in my opinion, are teases directing consumers to a Facebook page or organizational website.

  12. Mona Nomura says:

    Exactly the reason we are extending our presence off-platform; even on Facebook. The reaction towards MySpace's Facebook fan page has been surprisingly positive and the page growth phenomenal.
    – November 09-January, there was a 16% growth
    – February 10-March 10, there was a 33% growth rate
    (via http://bit.ly/ahBJAW)

  13. ajleon says:

    Loved this “once brands understand the dynamics of social engineering and the *allure of content* in order to stimulate transactions.” Brands, big or small, that make a point to create content and not simply respond to queries/complaints are the ones that are taking advantage of this new economy. Great post, Brian!

    Btw, what the hell is this MySpace you speak of 😉

  14. briansolis says:

    Hi Ed, I have a post on this coming soon…although, I would love to find churn rates as well.

  15. briansolis says:

    Thanks Bryan…one of the things that continues to amaze me is just how uncommon common sense really is 😉

  16. awaldstein says:

    Brian

    Good post.

    I've always believed that the timeline started with e-commerce, followed by the birth of the social web and we have just entered the era of community and from that social commerce.

    Social commerce will sit alongside social search and community sourcing as the pillars of this decade.

    We agree mostly I think.

    Thanks for this.

    http://arnoldwaldstein.com

  17. Excellent post Brian! I am the Social Media Specialist for ForeSee Results; and while we worked on putting together the report, we were really amazed by the power of the data and eager to share! I particularly like how you emphasize “affinity and allegiance” among the reasons to follow along with the notion that other catchy items can motivate as well. We will be releasing more insightful research in the near future that I am sure will catch many people’s attention.

  18. Really great overview, Currently trying to implement this strategy with some of my clients, looking forward to hear from you Brian @ the webinar on Wednesday, will be logging into hub-spot to hear more of your sage advice.

  19. Suet says:

    Well said, I couldn't have said this better. However, social networking shouldn't be considered the be-all, end-all to customer retention. A little personal touch like a warm hello or a birthday card can really do wonders!

    http://coconect.com

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