How Well Do You Know Your Customers? – Rea CPA

How Well Do You Know Your Customers?

The holidays will be here before we know it and soon our lives will once again be filled to the brim with traditions, parties and shopping for gifts sure to knock our loved ones’ socks off. That is, until we find ourselves drawing a complete blank (as we do every year) when we are confronted with having to buy something for that person who is simply impossible to buy for.

When gift-giving, people are quick to say, “it’s the thought that counts.” While this may be a nice notion, I can’t say I completely agree. When I give somebody a gift, I don’t want them to smile politely and push it aside. I want to give them something they will cherish, something that is an expression of just how much they mean to me. Of course, finding that perfect gift for an impossible-to-buy-for person year after year is easier said than done.

How To Make The Impossible Possible

One holiday season, not so long ago, the impossible-to-buy-for person on my list was having a particularly difficult year, which made me really want to make her Christmas extra special. So I spent weeks agonizing about what to buy – to no avail. Then, to make matters worse, her husband called me – he was having the same problem and was looking to me for ideas. Ugh!

That night, I logged onto Facebook and began looking at her page in search of ideas. It didn’t take long before I finally landed on a solution in the form of a recipe for hot chocolate. Actually, the recipe itself wasn’t important. Rather, it was how she had shared it – via her Pinterest account. Before I knew it, my Facebook stalking turned into Pinterest creeping, and I was suddenly inundated with a treasure trove of brilliant gift ideas. There, in plain sight, was a list of items, trips and experiences she wanted. What’s more, this list of interests was not only readily available to me – but to everyone!

Because social media has become a part of so many people’s daily lives, it has also become a great resource for businesses. The ability to tap into the social insights of a targeted market has empowered businesses – large and small – to produce better products, improve customer service and enhance organizational practices. Social media platforms like Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest have given businesses a behind-the-scenes look into the lives of the customers they serve (or want to serve). If you really want to know more about your marketplace, all you really have to do is know where (and how) to look. The following methods are a great place to start.  

  1. Embrace Hashtags: Hashtags are used on social media as a way to index and compile content. For example, while I was on vacation in Cape Cod, instead of googling places to eat, I typed “#capecod” into Instagram and found my way to an amazing lunch. Understanding how hashtags are utilized across all social media channels can help you filter out the noise and zero in to valuable information.
  1. Give and Take: If you’re on social media to learn a little bit more about your customers, you shouldn’t just lurk in the background. Instead, find ways to contribute to the conversation. Your customers are looking for engagement. Share your own insights, ask questions and engage in a dialogue. You’ll be surprised by some of the valuable tidbits of information you’ll gain from these encounters. Also, don’t be afraid to interact with other brands. It’s shocking how quickly a follower base can grow when they network with similar or complementary brands.
  2. Follow Social Media Influencers: There are individuals out there who are highly regarded in the social media realm as “influencers” – they have the power to reach millions of followers and influence behavior. Along with keeping tabs on targeted audience members, consider following influencers in your market. Doing so could put you ahead of the competition when it comes to knowing what the customer will want next.

By Katie Snyder, CPA (Wooster office)

If you want to learn more about your customers, turn to social media and Listen to episode 55, “tweets & posts and a side of hashtags: the trifecta of social media effectiveness,” on unsuitable on Rea Radio.