Social strategy: The moment of truth

7 December 2011

Tony Rosenthal

Tony Rosenthal


While many organisations are still coming to terms with the idea of Social CRM and the impact social media channels are having on their industries, the Consumer Products organisations are leading the way. However it goes further than Twitter and Facebook - an organisations online presence needs to be carefully managed.

The Consumer Products industry has been at the coalface of the economic uncertainty with consumers becoming far more pragmatic when shopping. Behaviour is changing with fast access to promotions, reviews and price comparison sites through mobile devices. As such the organisations have had to develop agile and efficient means to assess and respond to the consumer shifts.

A huge part of this is understanding and reacting to the online and social impact to your brand, which has been coined as the Zero Moment of Truth by Google and whilst this has been borne of the Consumer Products industry it can be used by any organisation to help frame their social strategy.

The First Moment of Truth

In many ways the Consumer Products industry has been leading the way in brand strategy for a while not least in the idea of the First Moment of Truth that Proctor and Gamble coined back in 2005.

The First Moment of Truth describes the aim of getting and keeping the attention of the shopper at the point of purchase because that was where a large percentage of the purchase decisions were made. This is why trade promotion management and the execution of these promotions in the retail outlet become so paramount.

The Second Moment of Truth

The Second Moment of Truth is when the product is used and hence, in Consumer Products scenarios at least, becomes more difficult for the organisation to control. However experiences in the Second Moment of Truth are now often shared on-line and therefore become public knowledge, good or bad.

The Zero Moment of Truth

What the Zero Moment of Truth provides is the understanding of how the internet and social interactions online have affected buying behaviour, not only in B2C but also B2B situations. What becomes evident is the need to tie in all brand activities across the spectrum to ensure that there is a consistent message no matter at which point your customer interacts.

Whether you are buying a new set of earphones for your Smartphone, or looking for someone to implement a new IT system for you, the chances are that your first point of call is the internet, and more specifically a search engine. Depending on what you are looking for, you will look at product reviews, price comparison sites, the company's own website, people profiles, Twitter activity, discount sites etc. In other words, before you have even in any way engaged with the brand owner, you will be gathering information from the web and what you find will influence your subsequent behaviour.

This is the Zero Moment of Truth.

So this then is where the importance of the social strategy of the organisation comes to play. It is imperative that the organisation engages as much as they can with those online who are talking about their brand. Whilst they may not be able to control the on-line conversation what the organisation can do is control their contribution to this conversation.

Whether this is making sure that bad online reviews are answered online and followed up, or whether this is providing insightful content to your potential customers via blogs, or whether this is ensuring that your TV adverts are also available on You Tube, there is something that every organisation can do to improve their online presence and hence their customers Zero Moment of Truth.

Leading Consumer Products organisations are fully engaging with the online communities and this highlights different ways that social marketing can be approached. Johnson & Johnson for example approached online influencers to act as consultants in their social thinking (Johnson & Johnson focuses on Social Media for Social Good). Proctor & Gamble on the other hand has targeted its promotions in Walmart specifically for a Facebook campaign.

And while the often quoted use cases for social strategy remain in the Consumer Products sector, the Zero Moment of Truth is a compelling way of thinking about your social strategy whichever sector you are in.

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