Sonder | Beware of Social Media crop harvesting
Social media community customer data is all owned by the landowners. Essentially, you have a group of anonymous attention seekers.
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Beware of Social Media crop harvesting

Beware of Social Media crop harvesting

In the olden days, an ambitious farmer, who owned no land, paid a local landowner to grow crops on his land in return for rent. A few years passed and the farmer was quite content, he always had enough food for his family and had even managed to sell his excess produce to a group of regular customers the landowner had introduced to him. All was going well.

As time went on, the landowner saw how well the farmer was doing and one day, out of the blue, stopped renting the farmer his land, harvested all his crops and sold them for a healthy profit to the farmer’s customers. The farmer and his family had no food and he lost all contact with his customers.

Re-read this heartbreaking fable and replace farmer with marketer, grow crops with communicate and the landowner with Facebook, and you have the modern day version. Social media communities are built on other people’s land and all the customer data is owned by the landowners. Whilst you most certainly know their opinions, you don’t know their contact details, you don’t know their buying behaviour, you don’t know where they live, you don’t know their demographics and you don’t know what their unmet needs & wants are. In short, you don’t know anything about them. You might have 100,000 likes or 10,000 people engaged but what you really have is a group of anonymous attention seekers.

Whilst social media can serve as an excellent customer service tool (if you are resourced to be highly responsive) and can grow some brand measures (if the content adds value), what it most certainly does not do is supply marketers with useful customer information which can grow their business.

Every business owns some sort of ‘land’ (typically everyone has a website), and it is highly beneficial to build a community around assets you own & control. Once you have a built a community, you can research within it, segment it, personally communicate with individuals, communicate news & offers and develop a meaningful relationship which nobody is going to take away.

You might use your owned media to empower your supporters to create stories and visuals which new customers can empathise with; you might build a database for your eDM programme; or you might test different video content pieces to determine which one you invest behind. However you plan to utilise your community, build it on your own land.