“An Update on Social Media” – An Interview with Marc Opresnik
Dr. Marc Opresnik is a distinguished professor of Marketing and a member of the Board of Directors at SGMI Management Institute St. Gallen in Switzerland, a leading international business school. He is President of Opresnik Management Consulting. Dr. Opresnik is a professor of Business Economics, in particular Marketing and Management at the Luebeck University of Applied Sciences and a visiting professor to other international universities such as the East China University of Science and Technology (ECUST) in Shanghai and European Business School in London. He is the author of numerous articles and management books, including the internationally acclaimed marketing principles text “Marketing – A Relationship Perspective.” Along with Kevin Keller and Philip Kotler, the world’s most renowned marketing professor, he is co-author of the German edition of “Marketing Management”, the “bible of marketing.” His book Social Media Marketing: A Practitioner Guide, co-authored with Philip Kotler and Svend Hollensen, has just been updated with new findings and recommendations.
The latest edition of your book has some important additions. Let’s begin with the customer journey. How does social media disrupt or accelerate the customer journey?
In order to design and produce online products and services that result in a good customer experience, the entire ‘customer journey’ must be viewed from the perspective of the customer.
The fundamental basis of the Customer Journey is the AIDA model, which is divided into the four phases Attention, Interest, Desire and Action and which was created in 1898 by the American advertising and sales pioneer E. St. Elmo Lewis.
In the meantime, the purchasing behaviour of potential customers has become much more complex due to digitalisation. Today, customers no longer or only rarely go to the shops on the basis of an advertising spot and choose a product there. In fact, there are many more intermediate steps, such as customers finding out about a product in advance in Internet forums, in dialogue with friends or in social media.
Based on these developments, the Customer Journey model was revised and extended by two further phases to the ASIDAS model (Kreutzer, 2014):
Attention – These phases represent the process a customer goes through from the first contact with a company to the purchase. The first phase is about getting the customer’s attention.
Search – After a company has attracted attention to a product/service, the “Search” phase is added. In this phase, the customer begins to find information about the product on the Internet. The biggest sources of information for products are of course Google, Amazon or social media such as Facebook and YouTube.
Interest – The third step is to generate interest e.g. by describing the USP
Desire – In this phase the desire for the product is awakened in the customer
Action – Contains the transaction, i.e. that the customer buys the product or uses the service.
Share – If a customer is excited about the product they have purchased, there is a chance that they will tell their friends, family and colleagues about it or share it online on social media. An important factor for companies.
Against this background, social media has significantly changed the customer journey and continues to do so!
How does a company measure and track the various touch-points – physical and digital – along the customer journey?
Touchpoints are the individual interactions people have with brands before, during and after purchase. Marketers care about touchpoints because they represent opportunities for customers and prospects to learn, have a positive brand experience, and form attitudes and associations about the brand that could lead to future purchases, brand loyalty, and positive word-of-mouth communication.
Based on the visualization of the Customer Journey Mapping (CJM), offline touchpoints and online touchpoints can be recorded, the places where the target group and the organization meet each other (see Figure 1). Based on this overview, the marketer can assess whether the most cost-effective solution has been and what adjustments are needed to realize or improve the product or service.
Figure 1: Online and Offline Touchpoints along the Customer Journey
Source: Hollensen, Kotler and Opresnik: Social Media Marketing. A Practitioner Approach, 4th ed., Lübeck, 2020
The stages and the touchpoints in the customer journey can be realized or supported via online communication media, such as websites and apps. A major advantage of online customer contact is that it allows the marketer to monitor customer behavior and with the use of advanced algorithms, elicit the most desirable response from the customer. It is possible to deliver bespoke and personalized customer experiences based on customer profiles. This allows an organization to design and provide products that enhance customer satisfaction, bind the customer to the organization and increase customer loyalty and of course Customer Lifetime Value (CLV).
Customer journey mapping including touchpoints can be applied at several different stages and for a variety of purposes (Thomke, 2019):
- Identification of market and growth opportunities from the customer’s perspective
- For the organization and its employees to be able to view Digital Marketing from the perspective of the customer
- Evaluation and improvement of the realized products
- Providing direction for and keeping a handle on the process of measuring customer experiences
- Development of ideas for products and services that provide the desired customer experience
- Helping to identify that organizational changes are needed to facilitate product realization
- Development of innovative operating concepts and new services
- Gaining insight into synergy between channels
There has been a lot of discussion about TikTok, a late entry in the social media space, but one that has gotten a lot of attention. Why should companies consider TikTok?
TikTok has proven to attract the younger generation, as approximately 40% of its users are between the ages of 16 and 24. Among these TikTok users, 90% say they use the app on a daily basis (Fannin, 2019). But, as all social media platforms do, TikTok will start to age up. So, we recommend evaluating whether to build a presence there. As TikTok added the ability to include links and commerce URLs in profiles and videos, you can also drive meaningful traffic to your website (Hollensen, Kotler and Opresnik, 2020).
Against this background, company’s who want to target young customers such as Generation Y and Z should have a close look at TikTok and assess in how far it can foster effective marketing communication.
Can you tell us about some of the more innovative practices being used by businesses on Twitter?
Businesses use Twitter for different purposes, ranging from marketing to customer service to product development. Twitter can be particularly powerful for new companies and small and medium sized enterprises and can result in the quick and wide spread of information. As a graphic is worth a thousand words do ensure to make use of it by including pictures in your tweets (Hollensen, Kotler and Opresnik, 2020).
One innovative example of Twitter marketing is the content marketing strategy of smoothie brand innocent which in fact uses the platform in a very powerful way as most of their social media posts are not about smoothies or drinks at all. Instead, they use social media to foster their silly, fun, clever, and creative brand personality.
They simply want to talk to people and inform them about the company in the most engaging way. The goal is to make its page a place on social media which people want to visit and enjoy seeing in their time-lines. Consequently, people will not mind when the company tries to sell them drinks every now and again.
An example is the following tweet from the company during the Corona pandemic:
Source: https://twitter.com/innocent; accessed 4th May 2020
It is this content marketing approach to Twitter that makes Innocent stand out from the crowd — and it certainly works for their audience.
Finally, how should a business – struggling because of COVID-19 – approach social media now?
Referring to my answer before, I would advise enterprises to look at people’s challenges, problems and issues and address them in such a way that they understand you have a solution. In the case of innocent, the company provides – funny – content which appeals to their target audience and beyond and drives traffic to its pages and ultimately also increases turnover.
On the other hand, social media listening can be a good tool to identify the problems of people and think about innovative services and products to tackle them.
Thanks so much for your time.
INTERVIEW by Christian Sarkar.