Guest Gab

“You have no real friends on social media when you are a stakeholder. It’s just about fans or foes.” This vision was planted in my brain quite brutally (at a summit on social media marketing) and still remains, to paraphrase the Simon and Garfunkel song.

It seems like roles are already set, no room for hard feelings. To be a successful online marketer you have to track social media footprints of customers and shape your marketing strategy according to their profiles. Sounds quite a difficult sociologist’s job and – guess what? – it is. Given you are a good listener on Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn, how to define customer profiles correctly?

I recently got upon the following categorization of social media consumers:

  • Loyal Customer
  • Discount Hunter
  • Impulse Buyer
  • Needs-Based Purchaser
  • Wandering Shopper

These seem cute and not really rocket science, so any beginners in online marketing might make them their own. But do they look realistic to you?

Let’s take a real life example – my mother, Emily, who admits being an avid discount hunter (she brings home all sort of funny household stuff purely as a result of sales). Now say she finds herself trying to make ends meet after a holiday season. In this particular situation, she turns into a very frugal needs-based purchaser and becomes the best friend of grocery lists. I doubt she will ever take pictures of her shopping lists to post them on Facebook. Instead, she will keep commenting on Ebates blog and chat about fancy shopping findings. It’s one more situation where common sense beats marketing over-generalization.

Two conclusions:

  • Stereotyping is not a marketing method. In most cases, rough pre-made profiles do not fit real people and businesses. Seek solid evidence for an assumption and try to monitor your customers’ behavior in time before you draw any conclusions.
  • Be aware of other elements that should be included in your customer profile database, apart from their behavior on social networks: actual purchases, offline habits, e-mails they exchange. It’s hard to monitor these variables, but keep in mind that statistics you do without them are not universally accurate.

Carry online customer surveys on Facebook and synchronize them with your Twitter account. Open discussions on LinkedIn. Monitor online communities specializing in your own topics and observe collateral discussion. These are sure ways to get a clear picture of your customers’ personality on social media. And be on your toes when you construct archetypes – the more refined your research is, the better chances to satisfy everyone with your marketing strategy.


I write for 123ContactForm, online survey tool that helps marketers get to know their customers. Blogging, photography and good food – these are the three hearts of mine.



But I Know it is a Great Idea

by Karen on October 14, 2011

Have you ever had a great idea, and maybe even had the opportunity to implement, but it didn’t take off like you expected or promised?  It has happened to me and I kept trying to explain myself to the audiences.  Why it was a great solution for the customer.  How it was good for profits.  How and why operations, sales and customer service teams should support it.  And, needless to say, always defending it to the executive team.

For years (yes years!) it just didn’t take off.  Was the idea ahead of its time?  Perhaps, but that still means it was not the right idea to implement and should have been pulled sooner.  Was the support team fighting it because it was new?  Perhaps, but that means the benefits weren’t compelling or the processes required to operate and manage it were too complex.  If it was truly a good idea, customers and employees would have pulled it through.

I kept pushing and promoting the service because the idea was grounded in sound customer research and I could see the long-term competitive advantage it would create.  However, the problem (it turns out) was that the service was just too complex for both internal and external stakeholders to grab on to.

In the end, we paired back the offering to its bare bones, stakeholders took to it, and then the users and buyers began pulling for the next level options. (I never said “I told you so.”)

The learning boils down to respecting and understanding the rational and emotional needs of your audiences. Make sure your audience is ready for your “great” idea, you just cannot push it and expect results.  And if it is too big to explain from the start, break it down into smaller bites.  If it truly is a winner, the stakeholders will move it forward.  Finally, move ego out of the way and admit you weren’t listening carefully enough and went too far in the beginning.  Ouch!


I’ll Do It My Way

by Karen on September 23, 2011

Everywhere I turn, I observe people taking short cuts to problem solving, side-stepping the opportunity and responsibility to get involved and help make improvements.  Instead they throw up their hands and seem to be saying “I’ll do it my way!” Why?

A social/recreation organization I belong to was at one time considered one of the best places to meet new people and build long-lasting friendships.  Events were organized to ensure if you wanted to be involved, improve your skills and meet new people, you just sign up.  If the events weren’t meeting member needs, there was a strong desire to meet with the leaders and fix it.  Most recently, however, small groups of “discontented” folks have chosen to solve their problem by forming their own exclusive group.  Outcome: an organization that is not welcoming to new people, excludes (intentionally or unintentionally) others and ultimately creates a disconnected community.

Less than a year ago a client was excited to be outsourcing a part of the business to a partner hoping to leverage the superior experience of that partner and free up time and resources to concentrate on their core business.  Now, this same organization is taking back the activity because the partner doesn’t value their assets like they had hoped.

A client listened intently to the learnings of a discovery we completed.  It made sense to him, he wanted to know more about how to execute accordingly, took notes and went back to his desk to give it a try.  Three days later he asked to meet and review his work.  It was as if he didn’t really buy-in to our recommendations.  When I asked why, his response was, “Well I agree completely with your findings, it all makes sense, but if I changed my approach it would take too long and it wouldn’t look like my work anyway.”

A young friend just entering college, in a program of her choice and passion, is already “hating” it.  The instructors are well qualified and respected.  It is a program that is small and as such is fully attentive to individual student needs and provides great opportunity to work with fellow students.  However, this learner doesn’t like being told what to do and as such, just isn’t doing it.  She can’t see value in listening and learning from successful leaders in her chosen field.  She wants to make “her own mark.”

What is the common thread in all of these conversations?  Is it the missing desire to collaborate, listen to others, learn from others, and work together for a better solution?  Or, is it something to do with the idea of the “me generation”?  Or is it simply that people are too busy to relate?



Proud to be Mediocre!

August 12, 2011

NO WAY. After a tough couple of years trying to make sense of the economy and in doing so scrambling to get by with as little resources and investment as possible, do you now feel like things inside your organization are back on track?  They sure are better than they were.  Customers are happier and […]

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Does your Team Know what you Expect?

July 15, 2011

I sometimes hear executives voice concerns that their employees are not delivering the results they had expected.  You would think, then, that when we talk to those same employees they would express feelings of pressure to do better or the disappointment that they were struggling to get the best job done. Often, it is the […]

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