Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Own the Right Conversation

“If you sell pens, don’t try to own the online conversation around pens – own the conversation around writing.”

That bit of wisdom was one of many shared by Don Roedner, Director of Marketing at Pluck, at Smarter Commerce Global Summit. The event ended over a week ago but the lessons keep coming. While perhaps lacking the technological wow factor of the Watson session I wrote about last week, Roedner’s talk, “The Architecture of an Immersive Social Commerce Experience,” was one of those sessions that I’ve found my thoughts returning to again and again in the days since Tampa.

Roedner began by speaking about the misappropriation of the term “social commerce” by companies who define it as doing nothing more than putting ratings and reviews on their website. He then devoted the rest of his session to drawing out the more ambitious goals and broader benefits of social commerce. Among the benefits: “Social commerce helps you deliver an experience consumers can't get anywhere else.” “Social commerce helps you identify your influencers and leverage their enthusiasm.” “Social commerce helps you own the online conversation about topics that fuel your brand.”

That last one led to the pens example. To know which conversation you want to own, however, you have to understand your customer. You must know what they are interested in, what they are passionate about, what they are already talking about.

Roedner gave another example: A sporting equipment company that targets high school athletes didn’t see the value of community on their ecommerce site because they didn’t believe that elite high school athletes would interact with each other online. They just couldn’t imagine adolescent males engaging in online conversation outside of their own Facebook pages.

It took Roedner mere minutes to find half a dozen heavily trafficked forums dedicated to high school baseball, where the overwhelming majority of participants was high school ballplayers. Most of the users weren’t talking about ball gloves and cleats, though; they were talking about life issues and aspirations.

Not only did Roedner show that elite athletes are as likely as anyone to get emotionally invested in topics that surround the retailer’s business, he also showed the retailer that it could reasonably have aspired to own those conversations by setting up a community site. The company wouldn’t have to try to sell to users on the site. It was enough to bring the community together and be seen as an authority on the topics that interested the customers. The company would reap plenty of benefits from the brand credibility and authenticity that would follow.

Today of course we have plenty of data that can tell us exactly what target audiences and even individuals are passionate about. Companies can tap into this knowledge to have meaningful interactions with their audiences at every point of the customer journey. In the process the companies will earn customers’ trust, their return visits, and ultimately their loyalty. The results will be measurable and profound.

If you’d like to learn more, check out these social commerce blogs from Roedner’s colleague at Pluck, John Mattingly:

from Social Business Insights Blog


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