Thinking more in terms of “user” rather than “customer”

There’s a new book out by Aaron Shapiro called “Users, Not Customers: Who Really Determines the Success of Your Business“.  Listening to an interview with him promoting the book, I realized that this is one of the fundamental things that a lot of our clients need to consider.  Traditionally, we always think that it is the customer who determines a company’s success.  And we define it as someone who buys or actively interacts with the brand.  It’s a very specific place on the purchase funnel.  But what about all of the people who are not yet customers?

According to Shapiro, a user should be defined as “anyone who interacts with a company through digital media and technology.”  Combine that with a recent Forrester study that says that 48% of all offline retail purchases are researched or conducted online (reaching 50% next year), and it becomes pretty obvious that the pool of people reading, curating and sharing messaging is much larger than “customers” in the traditional sense.

So when we think about trending analysis from social conversation data, we need to stress the importance of understanding what users are thinking about the brand, its products and its services before they become customers.  What factors drive users to go with our brand over a competitor?  Are there specific forums or sites that people rely on to make decisions?

When it comes to users, it is often more important to see the bigger picture and to understand the drivers of high level perceptions.  By accepting this new reality and analyzing conversations with this in mind, we can be better prepared to provide content and interactions that meets the needs of both customers and users.


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Filed under Corporate Social Media