With every new technological advancement there comes a wave of distrust. When phones became widely available, many were concerned that this will limit people’s face to face interaction. When instant messaging became popular, many feared we would soon lose our social skills. And there are those who believe social media is just as harmful to the future of human relationships.
But while nobody can deny that social media is changing the way in which we interact with people, it’s still much too early to say if these changes will be good, or bad, or neither. Human beings continue to evolve, and even though change can be scary, we need to adapt. And we need to look at these changes in an objective, level-headed manner and see what they mean for the future of human interactions.
1. The Human Element Is More Important Than Ever
In spite of the fact that social media does limit our direct contact, this makes the human element all the more important. A keens sense of human psychology is essential since you cannot rely on the conventional tells to figure out what a person actually wants to say.
Social media users tend to appreciate companies that do their best to put on a human face. They still want to see professionalism, but they also want it to be counterbalanced by a friendly, caring voice. That’s why putting your customers first has never been so important as it is now.
It’s probably a result of the distance placed between people through social media. Humans still crave genuine interaction, and they’re going to look for it anywhere they can.
2. People Expect Full Transparency
Transparency has always been a vital component in the relationship between brands and customers. And obviously the more transparent you were towards your customers, the easier it was to build a loyal customer base.
In the social media era, transparency is not just a plus. Customers demand and expect full transparency from businesses. Whether it’s information about a businesses’ revenue and expenditures, or details about how the manufacturing process works, customers want to know about it. And they won’t take kindly to refusal.
Volunteering this information can be immensely useful for your public image. On the one hand, you’re giving your customers want they want and creating added value at the same time. On the other hand, you can control the flow of information.
Instead of letting your customers stumble upon distorted version of the real work going on the background (and the internet is full of them), offer them your own insider perspective.
3. Building Trust Requires a Lot More Effort
Back in the days before the internet became such an integral part of our lives, a solid brand name and a good line of products or services were enough to build customers’ trust.
But nowadays people have a wide variety of options to choose from. And they have access to information like never before. Simply putting out good products at a fair price is not enough. Customers need a little bit more convincing to before they will decide to invest their trust in your brand.
Cultivating trust needs to be an ongoing process. Your company needs to follow customers’ feedback and reactions on social media to know where their brand stands in the public’s mind. More than that, you need to be pay attention to customers’ interactions. People love to complain on social media, and a minor critique can snowball into an all-out scandal. Do not silence your critics, but make sure their concerns are addressed.
4. Human Interactions Are Becoming Much More Dynamic
Everything on the internet happens at a much faster pace than the one we are used to. A new story can reach the entire world in a matter of minutes. You can have a pleasant conversation about the weather with people living on the other side of the globe.
We’ve started to take this immediacy for granted, and nowhere is this more noticeable than on social media. People need to see an immediate reaction to their posts or questions. Even a few hours of waiting will make them feel like their opinions are undervalued.
On the other hand, this dynamic relationship means that misunderstandings can also be addressed just as quickly. A PR nightmare can become a success story with just one timely, well thought-out response.
5. The Gap Between Brands and Customers Is Narrowing
Even the very image of the corporation has changed due to social media. Before it became commonplace for businesses to have social media profiles, they were usually a faceless group of people handling a brand from the background.
Now, customers can put a face to those names, and a human voice to the brand. This means they are much more at ease engaging in a dialogue with businesses. And this dialogue is perhaps the best things that’s ever happened to the business environment in recent years.
Brand now have direct access to customers’ opinions, and they can engage with them to provide the best possible services and products that cater to their needs and preferences. It takes a lot of the guesswork out of marketing and creates the perfect environment for promoting a likable, trustworthy brand image. Just as long as the company keeps this conversation between customers and their brand going.
Even though it may feel like social media has been with us for a very long time, it’s still in its early stages. There are probably many more ways in which human relationships will change as a result of this new medium of communication.
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