“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.



Angela Hits it Home

by Trudy on March 23, 2012

I realize that I see the world through a hypercritical lens of organization to customer relationship. It is how I am built. I had more than a few instances this past week that stood out for me that underscore how every single action counts.

It started on a return trip from Central America, that included a stop over in a major US city.  I will not bore you with the whole story, but essentially the flight we were connecting to on the same airline left early, leaving TWENTY FOUR passengers staring out at the plane still attached to the gate, wondering how we would get home. An even more horrific encounter with their “customer service” to rebook us, and we were home a full 24 hours later than we should have been. What was shocking was not the missing of the flight or the getting home 24 hours later, but the appalling lack of concern or desire to fix anything from the airline at every single contact point (e.g., flight attendants, food service, gate personnel, airline personnel through the airport, customer service, etc).

My net impression on the organization’s approach to the customer relationship: We just do not care.

Then, I went on the annual family pilgrimage to the car show this past weekend. We are in the market for a new family vehicle so we were checking out options. One car line had several vehicles onsite, and 4 representatives present. The representatives were clustered together chatting. The vehicles were locked. I asked a representative how we would see the vehicle assuming they would open it up and manhandle us through an orchestrated sales spiel. But no. The response was, “You need to go to the dealership.” Huh? Are you kidding me? Nope, they were not.

My net impression: We think we are so good, you will be willing to jump through the barriers we purposefully put up to interact with our product. (No, I emphatically won’t).

I found an awesome spice shop and was anxious to share it with friends. We arrived at the store, shortly before closing (they oddly closed at 5 when all other stores on the street closed at 6). A person stood at the door as we entered (I know it was not the owner) and said, “We close is 6 minutes, I hope you know what you want.” I have met the owners of this shop, young people, who I know would choke on their tongues with this type of greeting. I know the owners are passionate about their product, their business, their customers and their sales. This person at their front end was not.

My friend’s net impression: It would have been her last if I had not been there to correct the situation.

I then had a need to have something engraved and to get it shipped out quickly. I arrived at the store knowing exactly what I needed and asked to make the purchase. It was 10 minutes to closing, and the person said she could sell them to me, but I would have to come back tomorrow to pick them up as the engraving would take 10-15 minutes and she had packed up her engraving machine already (before end of day I might remind you). I was silent, and the look on my face must have been enough for the person to relent and do the engraving. You see, the engraving was meant as a talisman for a sick friend, and I felt great urgency in getting it to her. Once the engraving had begun, I shared a bit of the story of my friend with her, the tears welled up in her eyes and she shared her own story of a friend in a similar situation. She apologized for being difficult to start, and truthfully she could not have done more to have helped me have something special to get into the courier that night. Angela pulled through for me, and was only a couple minutes late in leaving that evening, but that was primarily due to our shared tears.

My net impression: I will make it personal and special. Awesome.

I live for the Angela moments, when a person makes a decision to make a difference in the life of a customer. I hope we all step up to make positive and memorable relationship experiences, every chance we get.  We each get to choose whether we squander or celebrate the opportunities.


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!


Bring your Team in Early

April 1, 2011

I attended a MRIA (Marketing Research and Intelligence Association) luncheon last week on how insight, research and judgment work together to support branding initiatives.   The presenter shared her experience and perspective and challenged the audience on numerous approaches.  The presenter is a big fan of getting everyone involved in research and in particular, group insight […]

Read the full article →

Living it Every Step of the Way

March 11, 2011

I love hearing stories about organizations that WOW their stakeholders and this is an impressive one. A close friend of mine joined a direct sales company and I’ve never seen her so impressed and overwhelmed by an organization.  The organization, started 14 years ago by two women, promises a culture of friendship, family, fun and […]

Read the full article →