Effectively building these relationships also calls for changing our tone. Businesses that succeed in this environment are those that speak genuinely and authentically, those that deliver on their promises, and that share and build on the interests of the community. Blatant marketing and selling should be done at your own risk; the Facebook audience will call you on it. Thanks to the ease with which community members can share their experiences, good or bad, with everyone in their Facebook network, one simple misstep can resonate negatively with audiences orders of magnitude larger than just our communities.
Perhaps the most transformational aspect of Facebook for businesses is that it creates a branded forum “owned” by the brand, where we still get to hear what customers really think. Focus groups and surveys will always play a role in understanding our customers, but they are by definition one step removed from the real conversation.
A good comparator is an HR survey on employee satisfaction versus the authentic conversation that happens over lunch with a group of disgruntled employees. Facebook gives us a place where our customers willingly gather to tell us what they really think about our brands, our services, our products and our marketing, and what they expect from us – for free. The smart brands are listening, are learning from what they hear, and are using the learning to take action.
Shifting marketing from push to relationship. Changing the way we measure success. Creating a natural watercooler where brands and our customers connect on an equal playing field with equal voice. Facebook didn’t cause or initiate these changes, but it certainly has amplified them. In doing so, it has shifted the balance of power between company and consumer perhaps irrevocably in the consumer’s favor. That’s a legacy all companies would do well to understand and acknowledge – and in which Facebook and its communities should take pride.
Dan Salzman, Vice President of Customer and Market Insights, Hewlett Packard. As Vice President of Insights, in addition to overall global functional leadership, Dan is responsible for defining HP's Insights foundation including market sizing, segmentation, customer tracking, ROI, share tracking/reporting, global business unit insights support and methodology development.