Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Hey Everyone! Stop Advertising, Start Communicating

We hear it from our teens all the time – they want to hear from the brands they care about but they don’t just want any old advertisement. They want information that is relevant, useful and meaningful.

Today, on, I came across a new bit of research that offers an interesting perspective. One of the best ways to reduce the perception of one-way advertising and create more of a “conversation” with consumers is to use Web 2.0 tools - like social networks - to establish a relationship.

research found “consumers rely on social media websites as much as company websites for product information and 70% of consumers have visited a social media website such as message board, social network, instant messenger, blog, video sharing site or chat room in order to get information about a company, brand or product.”

What is essential in using these tools it to make sure the communication is two-way. To create interaction and to actually listen to what you customers are saying. One of the biggest benefits to listening to today’s youth is that you can identify new ways they are using Web 2.0 tools to communicate with each other and then mimic that behavior in a way that enhances your relationship with your customers.

“But I am afraid of what my customers might say!”

I hear this concern lot from my clients who are working to try new things but are very afraid that “opening the lines of communication” may backfire. This study has good news to report on that front:

“The survey also discovered that people who search for information exclusively via social media websites are more likely to spread the word. More than one-third of consumers have passed along information found online, and among those, six out of 10 used social media websites to pass along the information. Nearly three-quarters (74%) said that most of the information they passed along was positive.”

Sure, there are those who will say something bad about you. But wouldn’t you rather embrace that customer, get closer to him/her and deal with the concern head on? Or risk them posting in blogs all over the web and not having the chance to deal with their concern.

We’ll be back with more in 2009. We hope you have a chance to take a little time off, relax with your friends and family and make big plans for the New Year.