Taken together, the combined acts of consumption, curation, creation, and collaboration carry participants in the conversations around your business from readers to talkers to co-creators. Two fundamentally important considerations that are directly applicable to your business or organization come out of this. First, your audience is more inclined to engage in collaborative activities—sharing thoughts, ideas, concerns—that include you.
It may be a “negative” process: your audience may be including you in a conversation whose end-goal is a change in your business process that improves a particular (negative) experience they’ve had. Or, it may be simply “We love you…here’s what else we’d like to see.” The actual topics matter less than the fact that your customers are now actively sharing with you their view of the ways in which what you offer affects them.
By building in social behaviors and inviting customers into these processes, your business or organization is in a much better position to identify and tap the evangelists that form around your brand, product, or service. Second, because your customers or other stakeholders have moved from reading to creating and collaborating, they are significantly closer to the steps that follow collaboration as it leads to engagement: trial, purchase, and advocacy.
The engagement process provides your customers with the information and experiences needed to become effective advocates, and to carry your message further into their own personal networks. As examples of the value customers and organizational participants will bring as they gather ’round and talk, consider the following:
- You don’t get to the really good results until you go through the necessary venting of people you’ve previously ignored: Opening up a dialog gives you a natural way to enable venting and healing.
- The way you deal with negative issues is an exhibition of your true character: become a master and reap the rewards.
- It’s your job to understand what was really meant, given whatever it was that was actually said. “I hate you” isn’t always as simple as it sounds: This kind of seemingly intense negativity may arise because the customer involved likes you enough to actually feel this way when things go wrong.
- Ultimately, your customers want to see you do well: They want your product or service to please them.
Looking ahead at the engagement end goal—advocacy—note that the benefits of advocacy apply beyond the immediate customers involved.