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Christmas is coming (and so are customers – on the social web)

Do you think there’s a Santa Claus?

As a hard-headed business manager, maybe not, but you can tell what people actually want for Christmas – by using the social web.

Many businesses are now preparing for the Christmas build-up, and to offer New Year deals.

Consumers are keenly aware that offers are imminent. (They are also running out of time.) They are sending their signals into the social web, seeking validation and ideas from friends, looking for products and services to buy (and avoid), being overt in demanding something special from companies wanting their business (and being equally demanding about ideas for that special gift for someone who really matters).

And they are watching for signals from the companies and businesses they want to buy from. They are looking for companies prepared to pay attention to them, which have something relevant to offer, which are responsive to their demands and preferences.

Our  analysis shows that an increasing number of small and medium businesses are active on the social right now, sending out their signals. And some of these will undoubtedly be your competitors.

The trick is knowing where to look, and being able to distinguish between different posts – understanding relevance, context, offer, even location – and then taking action to meet the consumers’ needs, and to make the sale.

Compare the following three examples, all current, all featuring the word “Christmas”:

  • “Fab conference today. And stylish Christmas tree too”
  • “So many Christmas cards will be available at @xxxxxxx Mega Market this weekend!!!
  • “A little Christmas cheer with these delightfully bright gift ideas – Doll Carry Bed by The Toffee Tree, gorgeous detailed dress by Icutie, super awesome stocking by Ric-Rac and Retro and India’s Closet, the extremely cute Smallables by Vintagebubbles Available over at xxxxx, THIS FRIDAY NIGHT”

Each is different. The first is a general comment – no opportunity, none intended. The second is an opportunity to connect with customers, at an event. And the third is also reaching out to customers.

But without real-time analysis, the subtlety of the intentions behind these messages goes missing, and the interpretation of the signals can go awry.

Worse, sales resources might be misdirected.

So discovery is the first step in the real-time social analytics. What follows is up to you: you can make an offer, you can search these social connections for more insights, or you can engage with these consumers, either as new prospects, new customers, or long-established customers.

Whatever your next step (and you must take a step to make any progress), to make absolute sense to the consumer, you have to connect with the consumer.

Any business, small or large, can now use sophisticated, real-time social analytics tools to discover where the individual customers are, what they are saying about what they want, what they are saying about brands and products, and then use these data and insights to engage (again in real-time) with offers that are timely and relevant.

The days of entering the word “Christmas” and hoping for the best are coming to an end.

Time to make Christmas, New Year, and every other opportunity count.

Alan Smith: Alan is Head of Customer Engagement at DIGIVIZER.