There Is NO Social Customer


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Whether we like it or not, everything seems to have gone ‘social’. Social media (which has for me only little to do with media), social business (on which I merely agree with Stowe Boyd’s definition), social platforms, social commerce

One of the latest additions to this list ‘à la Prévert’ is social customer. Our customers are now chatting online, extensively using (or not) social media, and we, benevolent companies (we are not yet social businesses, but will be very soon), are listening to them, engaging with, and, ultimately, selling them our products and services, which they will afterword comment together in social networks… This looks great, except that the social customer doesn’t exist.

Customers are still customers, regardless of how you look at them, and the fact of using new tools doesn’t mean they will buy more of your social-mediated products. Calling your customers ‘social’ is a lame attempt to say: “hey, we are a social business, notice how cool we are: we are both tagged as ‘social’. So let’s be friend, and for sure you’ll love what we are showing you”.

It is time for companies to grow up, and that rather than calling their customers ‘social’ and focusing on tools that are mostly meant for private conversations, they begin to build trusted relationships through their own channels and tools, and follow a business -not bozo- logic. Your customers deserve to be considered seriously, so does your business.

More on that in the presentation below:

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Thierry de Baillon
Branding & web strategist, Druckerian marketer with a sustainability and cross-culture flavour. Passionate about learning.


  1. Dramatic headline, but is there any substance to your argument?

    Is there a social customer? You say no. I say yes, sort of.

    Of course, the customer is a social being. The customer has friends, has relationships and wants to be treated as a person. The customer is social, but that does not mean they are waiting for a business and its social media courtship advances. But they may be open…

    Nor does it mean they are more or less susceptible to relationships struck up online through social media channels as a prelude to a sale. But they may be looking – and appreciate assistance legitimately and sincerely provided.

    Given a choice, customers typically buy from people they like ahead of those they don’t like. social buying from a social customer? Could be…

    People buy from people they trust rather than those they don’t trust.

    And often, they buy from people they are like. Yep, social buying in a social situation.

    Stacks of research shows that the customer believes that trusted sources – which includes but is not limited to their friends and peers – are more believable and credible than advertising messages from a company blowing its own trumpet in the marketplace.

    BUT, ultimately the customer is looking for value and solutions to their problems.

    Social media is a transient label, but a convenient label to help distinguish crowd-based user-driven socially based content from that of traditional broadcast media – whether the broadcast be in print, radio, tv or other format.

    It is about the conversations. Online, more people eavesdrop on other conversations than take part in the conversations. The Lurker is a non-contributory being who has been around in the online world from the early days.

    The social customer exists, and social media are real. Most customers have always been social beings. They – or we – are people.

    Social buying is real. Social selling is real.

    Selling always has been – and is still – based on trust, relationships and social proof.

    Old style selling used testimonials and sales stories. Now it’s called social proof.

    But social selling is not about telling. It’s about listening. And showing and adding value to the customer. (I would argue selling has always been about that.)

    Theirry, I think you’re partly right. The tools have changed. And listening is more important than talking. But it always has been. Now we have some new tools to talk locally or globally with millions in real time. That part is new.

    Interesting post. Nice headline.

    Richard Keeves
    Digital TrendCatchers


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