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Adi is a social business blogger and community manager that writes for sites such as Social Business News and Social Media Today. Away from the computer he enjoys cycling, particularly in the Alpes. Adi is a DZone Zone Leader and has posted 1110 posts at DZone. You can read more from them at their website. View Full User Profile

How much is an engaged social customer worth?

05.21.2013
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Last year an employee was sued for taking the Twitter followers he’d amassed with him when he left his company.  The case focused attention on just how much a Twitter follower was worth.  Suffice to say that since then, a good deal of effort has gone into highlighting just how many followers are fakes.  So it’s clear that not all followers are of equal value to you.

What about the ones that really engage with you on social media though?  How much are they worth?  That was the question asked by new research into the profitability of social media users.

It found that engaged social media customers spend significantly more (as in 5.6% more) than those customers that aren’t engaged.  Yet more evidence if any were needed as to the important role social media should play in any corporate effort.

The researchers studied a large wine retailer in the north-east of America.  The company first jumped into social media in 2009, and has since grown its presence there, posting a mixture of promotional material, local information and advice on wine selection.

The research team began analysing the companies customer database in early 2011 to determine who amongst them were regularly engaging with the company on social media, and combined this with both their demographic profile and spending habits.  All in all they analysed nearly 400 customers over a three year period.

To provide a good comparison between those that were engaged online, the researchers found customers of a similar demographic profile and with similar spending habits from the time before the social presence was launched, but who didn’t go on to become engaged online with the company.

Before the launch of the social media stuff, both groups of customers would visit the companies stores as frequently as each other, also spending a similar amount when in them.  That picture changed however once the company jumped into social media.  At that point, the engaged online customers began outstripping their offline brethren.  They began visiting stores more often and spending more money when in them.

The researchers also began to identify particular types of customers by their social habits.  For instance, those who posted regular content online (the fabled 1%), bought wine in larger volumes than anyone else.  They also tended to go for the more expensive products, and were more loyal to the company.  This goes against the impression that social is merely home to those looking for bargains or items on sale.

It underlines the importance of both knowing your customers, and tailoring your social communities to serve those segments.  Whilst some customers may hunt down your special offers, there will be others that are passionate about what you do and crave the premium end of your offering.  Both should have communities tailored to their specific needs and interests.

“It is vital that managers integrate their knowledge about customers from both offline transactions and online social media sources in order to better serve them,” the authors write.