How to Define Social Media Strategy and Business Objectives By Using the Customer Experience Lifecycle Model

Well defined business objectives are the cornerstone of any corporate Social Media initiative.  Defining strategic objectives for social media has been pretty well covered across the social media blogs, but many businesses seem to be missing it.

Photo Credit - Beck Tench via Flickr

Photo Credit - Beck Tench

So why the struggle?  Well, good strategy isn’t easy.  It takes a lot of hard work to build a strategy and even more work partnering across the organization to make it work.

Social Media is all about listening to your customers and having a dialogue that increases the ability of your company or brand to meet their needs.

But as savvy marketers know, the process consumers go through when considering, purchasing, and ultimately recommending your product or service is complex.

Many Social Media strategists try to focus their efforts across ALL steps of this process.  But a detailed understanding of customer needs for information at each point in the process holds the key for where to focus your Social Media efforts.

For discussion, here is a simple Customer Experience framework

  1. Realization – Recognition of a problem or need

  2. Awareness – Connection between need and your product

  3. Evaluation – Consideration of your (and your competitors) product benefits and tradeoffs as a solution to the need

  4. UPDATED:  Transaction – Money is exchanged for product (Great Suggestion from Alain Breillatt)

  5. Consumption – Product is used

  6. Service – Post-purchase support for your product

You’re probably already thinking of this cycle as how it relates to your own company, and it may seem simplistic.

But compare a product like HDTVs to a product like Search Engines.  Customer information needs at each point in the Customer Experience Lifecycle differ based on the product.  Understanding the details behind customer behavior and the need for information can help focus your Social Media efforts.

HDTVs – Customer Experience Life Cycle

Social Media Business Objectives for HDTV marketers should focus on creating consumer recognition of the need for an HDTV, evaluating the differences between solutions, and providing customer service.

Search Engines – Customer Experience Life Cycle

As an illustration of the opposite, Search Engines (who aren’t Google) should focus Social Media efforts on Awareness and Consumption.

In my next two posts, I’ll cover companies I think are doing this right and companies I think have their business objectives misaligned.  In the meantime, I’m open to suggestions on the lifecycle model (should there be a step for “Decision/Transaction”?)

Also, I’d love any examples of companies you think have properly aligned objectives to their Social Media strategies through a detailed understanding of their customers.


Posted by Ben Foster

Posted on June 2, 2009 at 8:40 am by Ben Foster · Permalink
In: Content, Facebook, Strategy, Zeitgeist

12 Responses

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  1. Written by Alain Breillatt
    on June 2, 2009 at 9:37 am
    Permalink

    Ben, without a doubt you need a decision/transaction step since this is highly impacted by the sales channels you sell through. If you sell through stores – then which are the best and offer the most in line with your overall strategy for connecting with the customer? If you sell online – does it happen from your website or do you push to other retailers? Look at Dell's Outlet – from my experiences with purchasing a Dell Mini 9 to turn into a Hackintosh, their Twitter stream is a key means of knowing what's available in the outlet – some deals/coupons are only available through their twitter stream – and that drives my decision for making the purchase. Dell holds sales at certain times of the month/quarter – it's critical to let customers know when those sales are happening if you want to take full advantage of your campaign efforts.

  2. Written by benphoster
    on June 2, 2009 at 10:04 am
    Permalink

    @Alain – I wrestled a lot with transaction/decision, and the Dell Outlet twitter account was what I was thinking.

    I think books are another good example. An obvious fundamental consumer experience difference in purchase, time to consumption (shipping), and recommendations (trust person behind counter or strangers on Amazon?) I believe I heard of an iPhone app that lets you scan the book's barcode and find the cheapest price online.

    I look forward to your post on the subject. What metrics would you use? Total sales? Can you tie it to incremental sales?

  3. Written by Alain Breillatt
    on June 2, 2009 at 3:55 pm
    Permalink

    Here's another great example of the transition from evaluation to transaction cust lifecycle. http://is.gd/MChJ

    You can't try out the books at Amazon if you want to see them in person – for some people and some books, you need to flip through the actual pages and feel that paper to finally pull the trigger. But if you want an ebook for your kindle, probably only Amazon can pull that off. We've reached the point where consumers are seeking to physically evaluate and then buying online from the best available vendor – but they're making that transaction right there in the store – not after they go home. How does a physical presence retailer survive there? B&N has a website but in this case, Amazon holds all but one of the cards with regards to social interaction leading to purchase.

  4. Written by benphoster
    on June 2, 2009 at 4:04 pm
    Permalink

    @Alain – I wrestled a lot with transaction/decision, and the Dell Outlet twitter account was what I was thinking.

    I think books are another good example. An obvious fundamental consumer experience difference in purchase, time to consumption (shipping), and recommendations (trust person behind counter or strangers on Amazon?) I believe I heard of an iPhone app that lets you scan the book's barcode and find the cheapest price online.

    I look forward to your post on the subject. What metrics would you use? Total sales? Can you tie it to incremental sales?

  5. Written by Alain Breillatt
    on June 2, 2009 at 9:55 pm
    Permalink

    Here's another great example of the transition from evaluation to transaction cust lifecycle. http://is.gd/MChJ

    You can't try out the books at Amazon if you want to see them in person – for some people and some books, you need to flip through the actual pages and feel that paper to finally pull the trigger. But if you want an ebook for your kindle, probably only Amazon can pull that off. We've reached the point where consumers are seeking to physically evaluate and then buying online from the best available vendor – but they're making that transaction right there in the store – not after they go home. How does a physical presence retailer survive there? B&N has a website but in this case, Amazon holds all but one of the cards with regards to social interaction leading to purchase.

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  12. Written by sangita
    on August 7, 2012 at 1:18 am
    Permalink

    I think u need a larger element called loyalty (or advocacy) as the last sstep – that goes beyond service

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