How Customer Behaviors Have Changed in The Social Media Age

By on June 10, 2011

Customer behaviors have changed rapidly over the last few years, thanks to the rise of social media connectivity. The problem is that many businesses on and offline, are still treating customers as the nameless, faceless buyers that they used to be.

We’ve moved from having no outside contact with our customer bases, to being permanently connected with them 24/7. This was bound to cause some issues. Let’s explore exactly how customer behavior has changed recently.

The Two Way Conversation

Back in the days of polite sales and even more polite returns, customers had almost no say in daily business or marketing schemes. Businesses applied market research based on surveys and test groups – and sales plans were created. These days marketing is still based on research and data, only there is more data to collect, and it’s direct from the customers.

The one way conversation has become a two way conversation. Customers are now able to tell you, via social media sites – what they like or dislike about your product, marketing system and business. This is where the massive change has happened. Social media has made it easier for the customer to have their say in your business. As a result, the behavior of your customers has changed the way you market, sell and promote.

It’s all about brand identity and exposure now, putting your business out there so that customers can find you, comment and interact. You gather all this valuable feedback, and use it to make your business better, stronger and more efficient. We’re driven by customer expectation – and this is the big difference. You are able to predict customer behavior based on their social profiles.

A More Demanding Environment

This shift in customer behavior has led to many positive and negative outcomes. If you need to find out what your customer likes, simply see what they talk about in their Twitter feed. But if they want to tell you something – good or bad – the whole world is going to see it. It’s a more demanding environment of rapid growth and customer service excellence.

We live in a content driven age, where open dialogue is what sells your business. Customers are becoming very used to being entitled to their opinions. Your business has to face the fact that without two way communication, you will become redundant. It’s not a case of ‘join the conversation’ anymore. It’s more like ‘be the conversation’ in this world of social media sharing.

With conversations flying back and forth about your brand, and with the customer at the centre – one thing is for certain: you better have a very good social strategy in place. If you don’t, the trending customer behavior of today is going to be your downfall. You simply can’t keep up with businesses that know their customers, and have more data to use on sales, than you do.

Become a customer-centric business sooner rather than later. Engage your customers on every level possible, using as many different forms of media as you can. Learn from them, and prosper!

How do you think customer behavior has changed since the social media boom? We want to know what you think!

About John Souza

John Souza is founder and chief strategist of SMMU and Social Media Impact, and is a bestselling business author. He won the 2011 Tech Marketing Awards ‘Social Media Marketer of the Year’ and most recently the About.com Reader’s Choice Award for Best Online Education Site. John has appeared on The Michael Gerber Show, and his business has been honored at the Mashable Awards, Forbes Business Awards and The Stevie Awards.
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