In the blog post, 7 Things I Never Want To Read In Social Media Lists Again, Ciaran Norris takes issue with the widespread belief that a business has to have conversations with its customers.
Do you talk to your mates about the toilet paper you use? No. So why on earth would you want to talk to the maker of your toilet cleaner about it?
Predictably, the first commenter took the opposite point of view:
Social media is all about conversations. It couldn’t exist without them. So, yes, you do have to be having conversations with your customers.
Time out! First, Ciaran writes a great blog post and I heartily agree with nearly everything. But that’s not the point of this blog post.
Once again we’re seeing an example of the fallacy that all customers want this or all customers want that.
Bad news, folks! This world is not painted in black and white, rather it is colored is hundreds of shade and hues. Just as each shade and hue is subtly different from the others, so are the customers of nearly all of our organizations.
Life would be so much simpler if we could say that “all of our customers prefer blue and wear size 6.” Or, “All of our customers like their eggs prepared the same way.”
But they don’t. That’s why restaurants offer menus with dozens of choices. Unless you’re a sub contractor or a government contractor, your customer pool is composed of different segments, that is, people who have something in common, yet are different from others. You can segment by product, frequency of purchase, customer demographics, geography and a hundred other ways.
The fact is, for the majority of businesses in 2010, most of your customers don’t want a conversation or a relationship with you (GASP!). What they want is their needs met without a lot of drama. Yet most organizations do have a (usually tiny) segment of customers who are engaged in social media. You do need a social media strategy to engage them, but they’re not your only customer segments.
To better meet the needs of your customers, segment them by common preferences, including those related to how and whether they want you to communicate with them. When you’re discussing this in the blogosphere or the Twitterverse, keep things in perspective. Don’t be lazy and typecast your customers as all one or all the other. That’s not our reality.
For the segment of you on Twitter, feel free to follow me. I’m txglennross.