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This is the third installment of my reflection on Social Buyerology. The first article, Social Buyerology: Understanding Buyers in the Social Age reflected on the need for a new science of examining buyers in the social age. The second, The Research Methods of Social Buyerology, reviewed the types of research methods needed to attain a deep understanding of the new social buyer persona. In this third installment, we look at how Social Buyerology can be designed to listen to revealing insights about the social buyer.
One of the first premises of Social Buyerology is that it must reside within a social organization. There has to be a degree of openness and courageous leadership to accept that there is a new social buyer persona on the horizon and that an organization must adapt. Even if an organization has not started efforts to address social marketing and social selling, there must be a conscious agreement that the first step will be taken down the path towards becoming a social organization. Only then will insights be listened to and responded to.
In my previous article, The Research Methods of Social Buyerology, I covered the many various qualitative approaches that can used to gain insight into the social buyer. A key aspect of these approaches is revealing behavioral insight. What we are witnessing is a dramatic shift in buying behaviors. At first, behavioral changes were notable among consumers and easy to spot. Now we are seeing an increasing change at a rapid pace for the B2B business buyer which is not so easy to pinpoint as in the consumer world. Social Buyerology becomes a best practice and science for listening to and identifying patterns of behavioral changes so that an organization does not find itself flatfooted in responding to its social buyers.
Social Interaction Listening
In the modern social age, we know that the degree of social interaction has increased immensely. The increased social interactions propelling forward new ways of conducting business and redefining buyer and seller interaction like never before. While it is easy and quick to think of social interaction in terms of technology and platforms such as Facebook and LinkedIn, savvy B2B social marketing means focusing on how these interactions are changed and what potential exists to create new ways of interacting with social buyers. Social Buyerology incorporates looking at how social buyers today adopt mental models around social interaction. Areas such as peer-to-peer social networking, community memberships, subscribing to blogs, and following on Twitter or Facebook are loaded with differentiating perceptions, attitudes, beliefs, aspirations, goals, and one’s own self-determination. Understanding the meaning of these social interactions to the social buyer is far more advancing than the technologies and platforms themselves.
Social Buyer Persona Listening
The buyer persona development methodology, when I first originated its practice back in 2002, was suited for the time when the degree of change in social interactions and buyer behaviors were either non-existent or changing at a mild pace. The modern social age calls for new methodologies and practices associated with the development and creation of the social buyer persona. The development of social buyer personas today must tell the story of the social buyer in the social age. It must serve as the communications platform for the social organization to help its’ people understand who their social buyer persona is and what insights are revealed by the research methods of Social Buyerology. Unlike the predecessor of conventional buyer persona development, whereby created personas had a shelf life of a few years, the social buyer persona development and creation effort must undergo a constant state of refreshing and modification. This will require a new way of thinking about personas in general and probably represents the biggest shift since personas made their presence felt in the late ’90’s.
Social Buyerology is in part defined by the process of organizational listening to the behavioral changes, the degrees of social interactions, and the insights revealed about the social buyer persona of today. The B2B social organization of today must look at how to organize and sustain active listening as well as how to achieve sustainable communications about the social buyer personas so that such efforts become interwoven into the very fabric of the their existence.
Next: Social Buyerology: Turning Insights into Action