What makes Consumers Tick and Aids SMO
Nowadays anyone can go online and run through the process of creating a company page on a social network, yet we see those who do this without grasping the reasoning behind it. It takes a little more application to understand WHY and HOW a company should use social media to market themselves to their consumer base. This is the first of a series SMO blog posts Boomtown will be doing in an effort to shed a little light on the concept of Consumer Behavior. Today’s area of focus is: Creating Value in Social Media.
The Heart and Soul of Marketing: Value
Marketing, as defined by the American Marketing Association, is “the activity, set of institutions, and processes for creating, communicating, delivering, and exchanging offerings that have value for customers, clients, partners, and society at large.” In other words, it’s about creating one thing: Value.
Value is what every consumer ultimately pursues in an effort to address their needs and wants. From a consumer standpoint, value is essentially Benefits Vs. Costs: “what they get” from “what they have to give.” This should always be kept in mind when using social media as a marketing tool. Consumers endure very little costs when involving themselves in social media, but this is by no means an excuse for your page to just merely exist. It is necessary to be actively providing benefits on your page as an easy way to create value for your customers.
While theoretically, value can be broken down into a wide spectrum of specific types, the main and most effective types of value to focus on in your social media page are Utilitarian value and Hedonic value.
Utilitarian Value: derived from a product or service that helps the consumer solve problems and accomplish tasks.
When utilitarian value is the primary motive, consumers usually offer a rational explanation of why something is purchased. For example: When one of your consumers looks at your page and reads a post explaining tips and tricks to use for SMO, they are most likely trying to either learn more about it or trying to help improve their business. Obviously the post provides the information they were looking for and helps them with their future endeavors. Being provided with this new found knowledge is gratifying to your consumer. In essence, utilitarian value can be seen as a means to an end.
Hedonic Value: the immediate gratification that comes from experiencing some activity.
With hedonic value, the value received is provided entirely from the actual experience and emotions associated with consumption, not because some other end is or will be accomplished. For instance, a consumer visits your company page and they happen upon an entertaining video you posted or a fun survey/poll you created. Seldom does one look at pictures you posted in an effort to get a job done, yet features like these provide value that is emotional and subjective in nature and is an end in and of itself rather than a means to an end.
Naturally, the best consumer experiences are those that provide both high utilitarian and high hedonic value. In this sense, if it is possible to help your consumers accomplish a task while also providing entertainment you should do so. Don’t hesitate to add that extra functional element or fun piece in your page because it’s those added benefits that will allow your customers to see the real value in participating in your social network.
Total Value Concept
Every product’s value is made up of the basic benefits, plus the augmented product, plus the “feel” benefits. A company must understand and implement all the ways their product offers value to its consumers. The same works for social media.
When a consumer “Likes” your page they now have access to all the basic benefits that go along with it. Make sure that they have access to a steady stream of posts, videos, updates, photos, events, etc. In addition to these basic benefits they also now have access to the augmented product (the original product plus all the extra things needed to increase the value for consumption). These could be anything from deals to coupons or to anything else they can’t access without “Liking” your page. Finally they acquire the “feel” benefits. These benefits are attained through things like additions to their own social network, becoming a part of someone else’s network, access to experts and others with the same interests as them, etc.
In sum, a company needs to operate with the understanding that products provide value in multiple ways. Take a look at a post written by The Harvard Business Review explaining how to create value on the digital frontier. Use this to your advantage and provide as much value as you can to your consumers through your business page.
What Influences Value: Internal vs. External
Every consumer must decide to do something before they can receive value. Knowing what influences your consumers is critical to understanding their behavior. There are many factors that influence the receiving of value and these factors can be divided into two categories: Internal and External.
Internal Influences: All the things that go inside the heart and mind of the consumer or that can be thought of as part of the consumer. Internal influences are comprised of the cognitive and affective factors in any individual consumer; the way they think and feel about a particular product, service, or idea.
External Influence: The social and cultural aspects of life as a consumer. External influences directly impact the value of activities although the influence comes from sources outside of the consumer including social and situational factors.
Value is What We Aim For
In the end, creating the maximum about of value for your consumers is what you should be aiming for when using social media as a marketing tool. Value is what your consumers are seeking and they look to you to provide it for them. If you are able to understand your consumer and fit your social media page to their needs and wants you will ultimately be able to develop a better marketing strategy. Depending on the amount and type of value you provide can have lasting effects on the quality of the relationship you have with your customers. Value has great influence over switching behaviors, customer loyalty, customer share, and satisfaction. So if you are maintaining a company page on any of the social networks, be sure that your main objective is creating value for your consumers. —Evan Blumenthal