The Social Media Lifecycle provides an insight into the stimuli that propel the process of converting content and conversations into business and transform satisfied customers into fans and ambassadors.
As we now know, the real power of social media is found in earned media: according to Nielsen’s Global Trust in Advertising Report 2012 an amazing 92 percent of people trust recommendations made by friends and relatives. Followed by 70% that trust online reviews by other consumers. But, although trust is important for any transaction, it is just one step in the Social Media Lifecycle.
Beneath you’ll find the Social Media Lifecycle, as it was created by entrepreneur and online marketer Edwin Korver. The Lifecycle is circular: each customer journey could become a spin-off for the next customer journey, by doing so creating a splendid perpetual motion.
Four Phases of Growth
Start by planting the seeds of your intention and a perception (of value) on offer.
If attention follows, carefully nurture the interest in what you suggested.
If trust was given, the order placed and expectations met, you may harvest the fruits of satisfaction.
And only if you delighted your customer, i.e. you over-achieved on expectations, than the story could start spreading like wildfire.
Four Pairs of Attraction
Please mind the little magnets in between each pair of (emotional) drivers.
Human drivers (buyer) require you to plant a suggestion (seller).
Consideration (buyer) requires the use of persuasion (seller).
Expectation (buyer) requires you to strive for satisfaction (seller).
Retention (seller) requires you to strive for delight (buyer).
Ten Steps in a Journey
Step 1 - Interaction
To start the cycle we first need to plant a suggestion. A suggestion is a representation of who we are, what we do, how we do it, why we do it and what (value) we have to offer. This will be unique for every brand, as it is the outcome of our intentions (vision, purpose, value, commitment and transparency). To plant the suggestion we need to interact in social media by participating in conversations, offer our help, ask for help, share content, react on blogs and so no.
Step 2 - Relevance
Attention will depend on whether the planted suggestion fits a (familiar of latent) need, creates a desire (= want) or offers a solution to a known problem. Or simply stated: Is the suggested solution relevant enough or is it a waste of my precious time?
Step 3 - Attention
If this suggestion (of value) is indeed regarded relevant (and you better make sure it is), attention will follow. We’ll create a mental image of what is expected of the solution and how it might help us. This expectation, or the mental image of the suggested value, takes us to the next phase in the cycle.
Step 4 - Validation
Once the attention is triggered and the mental image created, we’ll start the process of consideration. Which in most cases means: we’ll start digging for the truth. As risk-avoiding creatures we will want to know if the suggestion is valid. We’ll search the internet. Looking for testimonials, reviews, news, .. everything. Preventing us from making the wrong decision. Friends are our closest allies, because we trust them: so if a friend vouches for a supplier, that’s as good as it gets.
Step 5 - Trust
Depending on the flow of the ongoing conversation, the reputation of the supplier and whatever we could find to ease our mind: trust emerges. Without trust, there is no business. It does not mean we are going to do business. As long as there is no urge, no real reason to act now, we’ll still avoid the risk. So it will come down to good old persuasion techniques to create an urge, for instance by offering a temporary benefit (scarcity), or whatever you may think of to get to the buyer to the next phase.
Step 6 - Transaction
The moment of the transaction should be as simple as possible (KISS). Don’t make the mistake of leading buyers through a painstaking process of filling out forms. Because the longer and more complex the order process, the greater the change that doubt and fear will lead us to the backdoor. Even if you’ve made is simple, most sellers believe the transaction is the end of the cycle. It isn’t. You’re halfway there. A transaction is not just an exchange of value: it is a testimonial of trust and a suppression of fear – in anticipation of value to be conceived.
Step 7 - Experience
After the transaction follows a first moment of truth: how will the words be turned into action? The higher the expectation, following the suggestion and persuasion, the higher the anticipation. Do you offer in time? Do you understand your business? It the product any good? Expectations are now turned into an experience.
Step 8 - Evaluation
After the fulfilment we’ll start our own evaluation: did the experience meet the expectation? Are we satisfied? Is our problem solved as suggested? This phase should be done on both sides, not just at the buyer’s end. You’ll have an enormous opportunity to learn, to help, to correct, to improve, to collect and to superseed. Take it!
Step 9 - Affection
Let’s face it: if you expected something good and got something great (you under-promised and over-delivered), wouldn’t you be happy? And even if you found an error in the delivery, as long as it was fixed beyond your expectations, wouldn’t you want to send flowers to the seller? Affection is where you loved and respected. Your time and money was spent wisely. But if none of this happened: beware. Because retention (keeping customers happy and loyal) relies on affection. If you fail, this is where the journey ends and you’ll miss out on .. a lot.
Step 10 - Infection
The final phase (spreading) is where positive experiences are translated into (brand) loyalty and/or affection. But also where intention, attention, fulfilment and aftercare adds to the reputation of the seller. By asking a customer to share its experience with others, either through an online review or by sharing the purchase with friends and family, they will infect others with their affection.
Meaning, this is not the end of the lifecycle, it is merely the beginning of a new one.
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