After the last post, I had a great question from a subscriber that I’d like to address. Here it is:
Q: “Where would you put your emphasis in creating value added; Face to Face interaction or the booming, untamed world of Social Media?”
I want to try to answer this question from both sides, both from the perspective of the marketer as well as the perspective of the customer.
From a marketer’s perspective, face-to-face is the most expensive per-customer form of advertising, yet it has the highest conversion rate. The reason is rather obvious: from the customer’s standpoint, face-to-face builds trust as it shows that the marketer values them enough to make a personal investment in getting to know them. It becomes personal. On the negative side, creating the atmosphere where you can be intentional in meeting customers face-to-face is becoming more and more difficult. Customers want nothing to do with marketing that feels invasive. If you watch customers around salespeople, you will see the customers intentionally go out of their way to avoid the salespeople. People don’t want to be bothered. However, creating a way to draw in potential customers so they actually want to talk to you (such as being at a location where people expect to interact with business owners/marketers/salespeople or using point-of-purchase displays to attract attention) will overcome this.
Social media, from the marketer’s perspective, provides an amazing platform for building relationships with potential customers. While it doesn’t allow for as high a conversion rate as face-to-face, it does allow for a much broader reach (for much less expense). Another advantage is that social media is where people are. An increasing number of people are chilling on social media sites (between 2007 and 2009, for example, according to a report by Nielson released in January of 2010, the number of global visitors to social media sites has increased from 210,928,000 to 307,428,000 and the average time spent on SM sites per month has increased from just over two hours to five and a half plus hours (source:http://www.briansolis.com/2010/02/time-spent-on-social-networks-up-82-around-the-wrold/)). Up until currently, Face Book’s friend limit has been 5,000, meaning as a marketer you could have 5000 “friends” (implying loyal supporters) that all see when you post something. And anyone who “likes” that post will then spread it to all their friends. You could hold a conversation with several thousand people at the same time. To top this all off, you can also maintain close relationships with many of these people.
My conclusion is that, as there are many advantages to each, one should seek to use both (as long as his or her business model will allow this while maintaining efficiency). This might be done, for example, by building a following online then launching a seminar to your “friends” and fans. Those who are really committed to your “cause” through the social media will jump at the chance to be a part of a live event, and that live event will only increase their loyalty to you.