I read a case study about social media on MarketingProfs that I simply had to comment on with this weeks blog. Though it’s a B2C case study, it clearly illustrates the importance of social media and, thus, is applicable to B2B marketing as well. It’s about how the American Automobile Association (AAA) noticed its customers were migrating to social media, so it began monitoring and engaging with various social media sites. Now, this is nothing new, and something we are (hopefully) all doing in B2B marketing; however, it was what they found that is important and worthy of commentary.
Crisis: Once AAA began monitoring different social media sites, they noticed their customers were voicing their criticisms and complaints on those sites rather than contacting their AAA representatives. As a result, other people were hearing negative things about AAA from it’s actual customers; and if that wasnt bad enough, the psychology behind how we make purchasing decisions further shows the potential crisis they had on their hands.
The Theory of Reasoned Action posits that people often make decisions based upon their personal attitudes, as well as the social attitudes related to that behavior. In fact, social attitudes can sometimes be more salient with people than their own personal ones. Even further, one of the ways social media influences buying behavior is through cognitive accessibility and it’s ability to keep a company top-of-mind, and, thus, an accessible option when it comes time for the customer to make a buying decision. So if a company is staying top-of-mind in a negative way, via that company’s own customers, that obviously might have a negative effect on buying behavior.
Solution: Luckily, AAA was able to bypass the potential crisis they had on their hands, but only because they began to monitor and engage with different social media sites. Both monitoring and engaging are key, and you must remember to do both actively.
And, sure, that means Twitter and LinkedIn, but where else are your customers? Are they in industry chat rooms? Are they reading and commenting on trade publication blogs? You have to be where your customers are to know what theyre saying, so do your research, monitor those sites and engage with them. I know we all are aware that we should be doing this, but the truth is that not doing it may be the difference between your companys success and failure.