Recently I’ve been noticing more people asking others for advice about products, services, and solutions on Facebook and other social media platforms. I think this tendency to ask others is nothing new, but what is new is that we’re not asking particular people that we trust, one at a time; we’re asking all of them at once. We’re asking our friends, family, and colleagues for support and suggestions about various things to make our lives better, because we trust their opinions and experiences.
This marks a noteworthy change in the way we consume things. Our buying habits used to be informed mostly by our elders and our communities. There were certain assumptions about where you purchased hardware, the butcher you went to, or the brand of clothing your wore, and the very fact that these were assumed to be the wisest items on which to spend money was good enough for most people. These days, we’re not settling for the opinions of a few select people; we’re asking everyone we know, opening up an entire conversation on that topic. Instead of being completely guided by the experiences of a friend, we can get a more accurate idea of quality, consistency, and other meaningful factors that we can use to make a decision about any product or service we’re interested in.
Not only are we asking everyone, but we’re allowing everyone to reap the benefits of the conversation that results. Any of your friends who are wondering the same thing instantly have a better understanding of what New York City restaurant they want to go to, the type of lawnmower they’re going to buy, or where to get the cheapest Minecraft toys for their kids. It’s an open dialogue that helps everyone become smarter consumers.
The fact that all this valuable input from the general public is out there for everyone to see isn’t just significant for consumers, it’s an opportunity for brands as well. Though most brands are completely clueless to this goldmine of information, the most evolved brands have opened their ears to the feedback, and newer businesses have even been founded entirely on what people are saying on social media and other websites.
All the consumers of the world posting how they feel about different products is helpful for product development and brand messaging, but it’s also helpful for a brand’s online presence. People are learning that brands who have a presence online are brands who listen. As such, these brands want to be confronted. Especially on Facebook and Twitter, when people talk about brands and products, they tag them in their conversations, inviting them into that real discussion about what people want and need. A brand who has no online presence is going to miss that conversation and the resulting insight.
I know what you’re thinking…”I just own a small hotdog stand, I can’t learn much from people talking online.” No matter what you sell or where you sell it, you can gain a tremendous understanding from the people pouring their hearts out on the internet. So you sell hotdogs…are you 100% satisfied with the amount of business you get, and the amount of hours you work? Chances are your answer is no, and it’s because there is always room for improvement when it comes to pinpointing what people want. Maybe you need a more catchy name, a better logo, a more approachable storefront, or a unique take on hotdogs. Whatever the case may be, the internet is the pulse of the public (your audience) and you can always learn from it.