Where Conversations and Cash Converge

Intriguing observations lie at the intersection of tech-savvy consumers and mobile e-commerce activity. Social engagement, particularly among younger consumers, is at an all-time high. They use the same mobile device to connect with friends and followers that they do to buy cups of coffee and manage their finances. Product and service providers as diverse as Aspiration BankTesla Inc. and Chick-fil-A have begun delivering not only a mobile-friendly consumer experience but also robust social media presence in order to manage rapport with customers. Viewing these relationships through the lens of social media can reveal interesting opportunities for businesses.

The Evolution of Social Media’s User Base

People everywhere are sharing experiences on the interwoven tapestry of social media. Not surprisingly, various interest groups have emerged and coalesced around common causes and values. Since social media is a public forum, these groups can share their thoughts, opinions and calls to action with a massive audience, and smart companies have taken notice. A platform initially used by individuals was quickly harnessed by businesses as a communications tool. Commercial enterprises now devote significant resources to maintaining a presence on social media.

Motivations Beyond Money

Consumers’ existing values often dictate their consumption, and they’re frequently expressed online. Socially engaged companies have the opportunity to analyze these online trends and use them to attract new customers whose cultural motives match their own. A consumer’s strongly held environmental beliefs, informed in part by Twitter, can translate into the patronage of one company over another. Content recently viewed on Instagram may influence a customer’s willingness to pay a premium for goods and services.

How Conversations Can Drive Consumers

One interesting area of inquiry is the extent to which social media conversations overlap with the economic lives of consumers in practical, physical terms. The ease with which users switch between viewing social media content and conducting transactions lends itself to some degree of reciprocating influence. A conversation about climate change, for example, may cause a thirsty user to buy his or her next beverage from a company with a lower carbon footprint. Those odds increase significantly if that consumer conveniently scrolls past a post from an ecologically minded company with a shared stance.

Managing Perceptions

An abundance of corporate responsibility programs and initiatives indicate awareness in the boardroom of the important role social issues play in customer relationships. Managing a company’s perceived image has always been vital to success. Today, social media makes this task even more important. When customers perceive that a business’s personal beliefs and values align with their own, it engages them in an ethical dimension and may influence the extent of their brand loyalty. If a socially-conscious consumer can choose between a shoe retailer that donates a pair of kicks to a child in need and a shoe retailer that doesn’t, for example, he or she may be incentivized to patronize the store that’s helping underserved children.

Marketing and branding initiatives can engage customers on social media platforms in increasingly nuanced ways. If they choose to listen, Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram allow companies to understand and serve their client bases better than ever before.

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