Social Media: The Virtual Backyard Fence Chat

03/17/2008

Home_improvement When was the last time you hung out with your customers or clients? I'm not talking about the last time you watched behind the two way mirror: 8 to 10 women, 18-34 years of age, who lived in a metro area and skate boarded to work wearing their Jimmie Choos. Nor am I talking about reading the customer sat report that your research department sent over .. which by the way you really should take out of your "To Read" pile and read.

It's not comfortable to be a brand manager sitting behind the two-way mirror munching on M&Ms and suddenly hear customers bash your latest brain child. It's devastating to read a research report that coldly informs you that 91.27% of your customers believe your service stinks. Don't you sometimes wish that you could drop the formal research strategy and meet Becky or Brian or Betty or Brandon at your neighborhood Starbucks and just dish? (Note: I am not saying disregard traditional marketing research.)

When was the last time you talked, listened, laughed and learned with .. not From .. but With your customers or clients? Divas and divos I'll bet you a chocolate martini that for a few savvy marketers it was your last trade show but for most the answer is - Never.

The concept of conducting business is an odd duck to me.  Marketing teaches us the more we know about our target audience the better we can service them. The big however is .. how do you to get to know the millions of individuals that make up the customer base of global brands? I don't know about you but it's damn difficult for me to create new products, marketing programs or service a demographic group that seems more like wisps of vapor than people with hearts.  Enter stage left research-based personas that begin to provide some texture and depth. While there is value in these composite profiles, and great fun to build, they've always seemed rather like playing with paper dolls.

The son of the Godfather was wrong .. dead wrong. Business IS personal. However, creating corner grocery store relationships can be as challenging with customers in Madrid as with clients on Main Street. We compete every day for precious moments of time with our customers. There are so many priorities in our lives from family to work to friends to self. Yes Girlfriend self (but that's another post!).

It sure is hard to fit a relationship with your favorite brand into the mix. I'm not sure if I want to anyway. Time spent with my shampoo brand .. time spent with Max_dec_07_3 Max. No need to flip a coin on that one.

But time to drop a comment on the blog or social network site of the shampoo's marketing manager that I've come to know and like and respect .. that's a different story. Time to even chat with a friend I met online line about how I perceive her newest product. Sure. Of course, I'll help out a friend.

Marketing research pros might argue .. but you are biased because you have a relationship with your-friend-the-brand-manager-of-your-shampoo. Perhaps. Perhaps my feedback will be colored but then again, because I want to help her succeed perhaps my feedback will be even more honest.

Business friendships built online in social media venues?  May sound strange to you but trust me on this one Girlfriend, it is not strange for Kinsey and Caroline who are redefining "What Is A Friend." Building those relationships that do morph into friendships over a virtual backyard fence will become are becoming more common and accepted with each click.

Thanks to BBF Ann Handley for the inspiration for this post.

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Comments

Building online relationships that morph into friendships -- it keeps happening over and over for me. SxSW, BarCampAustin, Blogger Social (see you next month!) ... as Shashi Bellamkonda put it in this post, it's like old friends getting together even if it's the first time we've met in person. http://is.gd/2gH

Posted by: Connie Reece on Mar 17, 2008 4:49:46 PM

@Connie - Love that line. It's as great as RichardatDell's "Love Online Offline"

Can't wait to toss pink boas with you on the Ferry ride around Manhattan!

Posted by: Toby on Mar 17, 2008 4:56:56 PM

Toby,

I definitely count you as a great pal and online friend. I've also been thinking about the tornado in Atlanta and hoping all is ok on your end.

And on friendship I have to echo Ann's post and say that my daughter Emma who is 12 meets her friends online at VMK - Virtual Magic Kingdom and for them it's a great way (with headset on - typing in front of the computer back and forth to stay connected).

Emma already has her own web site and Manga blog and I see all these things as good and positive because she needs to know how powerful and useful the world wide web is and how it can connect amazing folks to one another. Maybe it will be Web 8.0, by the time she's grown!

Posted by: Nettie Hartsock on Mar 17, 2008 10:22:36 PM

Hi,
It was interesting to visit your site which really had a good information on marketing programs.market research services is an essential part of any business that wants to offer products or services that are focussed and well targeted.Market research will help you better communicate - Your current customers experiences are a valuable information source, not only will they allow you to gauge how well you currently meet their expectations.

Posted by: Joe on Mar 18, 2008 12:49:36 AM

HI,

I really like this approach, a more social approach. People want to do business with someone they like, know and trust. This is what matters most!

I actually work at SAVO, a b to b technology company, and we definitely leverage social media in our sales enablement technology. We use personal pages (similar to my space), star ratings (on documents, insights or expertise) and comments to leverage an organization's expertise, insight and collective genius to drive better customer conversations and better relationships within the organization. It is pretty cool and really develops deeper relationships!

Check out our latest webinar, "Moving Beyond the Sales Portal -- Capturing Mindshare in a Web 2.0 World" Click here to attend: https://savoevents.webex.com/savoevents/onstage/g.php?t=a&d=664757276

Posted by: Kelly on Mar 18, 2008 10:41:25 AM

Toby - I have made so many friends online and it's actually broadened my world - I feel honored to have gotten to know so many amazing people like you that might never have happened otherwise. We actually discuss arranging "meet - ups" once those friendships are formed to get to actually meet in person. Enjoyed this post!

Posted by: Cyndee Haydon on Mar 18, 2008 11:34:50 PM

Toby: I believe you're right. It's all about connecting in the way we've doing for centuries -- breaking bread in some form or another. Social Networking opens the channel, but let's sit together on the boat to get to know one another.

Posted by: Rick on Apr 8, 2008 2:56:48 PM

I really like your approach, more of social approach. People want to do business with like minded, know and trust. And this is what matters.

Posted by: PHP Programmer India on Jan 4, 2011 7:42:02 AM

What a excellent resource!

Posted by: Mulberry Wallet on May 30, 2012 7:11:13 PM

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