Most brands are trying to figure out how to engage in the new digital world with all of the fragmented options from mobile apps to social media and even the new iPads and tablets. How can brands get a grasp on what they should be doing? Most feel like if they aren’t doing it all, they may be missing out on a potential gold mine of reaching customers. The real question isn’t what they should be doing, but how they should be thinking.
Brands need to view customers as a network and as users, not consumers or customers. Consumers and customers leads brands to view them in the old model of, “we make products, we market products, customers buy our products, and that’s the end.” If brands view them as users and networks of people, then it’s less about “selling” them something and more about serving them. This has to do more about human behavior and motivation. It also has to do with creating relationships with users and between users. Connecting your users to each other. This, in turn, connects them to your brand.
By viewing your customers as a network and users, you take on a viewpoint of only doing things that are beneficial and will add value to their lives, even if it’s not about trying to get them to buy from you. Serving your community means doing anything you can think of that will make their lives better, richer, more complete. By doing this, a brand ends up selling more of their products and services to their “network” and “users” because the community sees that you are genuinely interested in them as humans and not just a “target market”.
Great brands engage their “community” and users and becomes important to them and creates an environment that they, in turn, connects their friends into the social network of your brand. This engagement is not about the hard sell, but about adding value by being human. Smart brands offer advice and insights that, sometimes, has nothing to do with the actual product they are selling. The brand becomes human, meeting human needs.
Next, view your brand, products, services as a platform for your community to build upon. Don’t look at the sale as the end. Ultimately, your brand should be a platform on which your users and community can build their identity on top of and use how they see it fitting in their lives. If you can create a platform for your customers to express themselves and connect with other “fans” then you’re able to create an environment with your brand that your users will refer and connect their friends to your brand platform.
Turn your brand into a platform on which your fans can leverage how they see fit and view your “customers” as a social network of users. By doing this, you’ll take a huge step forward in understanding how to leverage all of the new media options and networks that are in the marketplace now.