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In my recent article, The Ascent of the Social Buyer, I made mention that social buyers today were exhibiting an internalized Social Engagement Index. The mention of a Social Engagement Index is not new. The people at Alterian have talked about a Social Engagement Index (SEI) as well as a Social Sentiment Engagement Index (SSEI). Recently, Brent Leary and John Hernandez offered a perspective for The Social Customer in a report called The Social Customer Engagement Index 2011. The report focused primarily on how companies are leveraging social tools and technologies to reach and engage customers in customer service interactions. It also pays note to how satisfied customers are with these interactions.
My mention of a Social Buyer Engagement Index is coming from a different direction. In my anthropological inspired studies, the interest has been on the value buyers today are placing on the ability of companies to provide social engagement capabilities. It is asking the question: are buyers today evaluating a company’s social engagement capabilities as part of the overall buying experience as well as social experience? Although in an embryo stage with further research warranted, I think we are beginning to see the emergence of this new expectation. There are three areas that buyers today may be looking at as they evaluate a company’s social engagement capability:
Service: Socially adept buyers today may be placing a premium on the instantaneous service capabilities that social networking and technology tools offer. Does not having social engagement capabilities in service – whereby a socially adept buyer sees only conventional email and toll-free numbers – affect a buyer’s receptivity to this company?
Knowledge: Social buyers today are knowledge seekers. One of the profound shifts in the social age is how buyers today can avail themselves of knowledge that may have been hard to come by in the past. As the social age evolves and advances, so does the social buyer’s savvy discrimination for real knowledge versus content in general. There has been much attention paid to content marketing and content strategy recently as a form of new media marketing. Social buyers today are becoming savvier at distinguishing between push marketing messaging and real knowledge.
Self-Direction: In attempt to avoid the now cliché expression and perhaps to elaborate on the “buyers are in control” adage, social buyers are oriented towards self-directed means of interactions. When evaluating the overall buying experience, social buyers may be looking at what we may refer to as the avenues of self-direction that a company may offer. Are there several avenues by which a social buyer can choose to engage and interact with an organization’s sales and service capabilities?
These are three of what are sure to be more factors associated with how buyers are internalizing their own form of a Social Engagement Index. This emerging trend ups the ante’ for companies today to begin looking seriously at their social engagement capabilities. Without doing so, they may become oblivious to a new expectation buyers are considering in their overall buying as well as social experience.