Communication is no longer about just businesses talking to anyone; it’s about people talking to people. Forget who’s on the end of the conversation. This is about where it all starts. The future of communications is C2C, or consumer2consumer or people2people.
Individuals, whether buying for business or themselves, are talking to and listening to other consumers. They are setting the agenda, leading the conversation, sharing their views, recommending the best products and deciding whether brands are successful or not.
No longer are consumers just taking in information corporations and brands are spewing at them. Now they question and make brands earn their loyalty. Because of social media platforms, like Facebook and Twitter, consumers are now quick to ask brands: What can you do for me?
Case in point: Take the fatal example of Netflix. When Netflix raised prices last summer, customers became infuriated, took to their blogs and Twitter accounts, and raised hell. Netflix was humiliated and has yet to fully recover from the CRM crisis that has plagued it ever since. Instead of being accountable to its customers, Netflix let Facebook comments go unanswered, and the company’s president responded with an answer about profits rather than speak to its customers directly in a level manner. Millions of customers felt betrayed and gave Netflix quite a scare by cutting service, resulting in its stock prices taking a 60 percent nosedive.
So, our challenge is getting people talking about brands in a positive way, not getting brands to talk to people. With so many touch points, brands must move away from the traditional 1960s formula of one-sided information and start having conversations with consumers. Consumers want brands to be authentic and have a real human voice they can speak with when something goes wrong (or right).
Advertisers are in complete denial if they think they can continue with the same tired, one-sided formula. Brands need to have authentic conversations with consumers if they want to survive. Consumers are talking to each other, so why aren’t brands following?
Fiona Menzies is managing director at gyro Dubai.