The New Consumer-Business Relationship on Social Media

In this day and age, social media is increasingly popular and more people than ever have access to the internet. Social media has changed the way businesses connect with their consumers. Now the communication between business and consumers is more of a two-way model. In this two-way model, the company has to be able to successfully communicate with consumers and the consumers need to be able to share their experiences with a business.

As social media continues to grow businesses are looking for ways to incorporate social media into their communication processes. This is not always easy for businesses. Since social media is so new, it is hard to come up with successful marketing strategies. A 2018 article by Martin Klepek and Halina Starzyczna researched the current communication needs of consumers and developed a new model for business-consumer communication through social media.

To develop a new communication method for consumers, Klepek and Starzyczna looked at past research on communication models to find patterns for their new model. They also looked at a questionnaire from a previous study. In this questionnaire, respondents stated their preferred brand, one that they follow on Facebook. They then answered 21 Likert scale questions about their attitudes, behaviors, and expectations, as a consumer, regarding how they communicate with their favorite brands on Facebook. The last part of the questionnaire had respondents answer questions about their past behavior on consumer-brand communication. These questions gave Klepek and Starzyczna an insight into how consumers interact with businesses and what consumers expect from their favorite businesses.

After researching different models Klepek and Starzyczna came up with their own communication model. “First, the information in the form of content flows from brands as well as from consumers.” What this is saying is that content is constantly flowing between consumers and businesses through various social media posts. “Second a vast majority of consumers prefer brands that have an active approach and interact with consumers regularly.” As expected consumers like brands that interact with them regularly. “By assessing how users react to different content, how they behave, and what they are complaining about is all valuable to develop a social network communication strategy.”

Based on the model Klepek and Starzyczna created they then realized that any good consumer-business communication model would have to have instant feedback, enhanced consumer role, different engagement levels, the openness of the company and a designated social media manager.

When a consumer expresses a concern or a problem with a business they expect quick feedback because they don’t want to feel like they are being ignored. How many times have you had an issue with a business and you tried to reach out to them but they ignored you? I’m sure this made

you even more mad and less likely to engage with that business again. When a business provides instant feedback it shows that they are always listening and willing to help their consumers.

An enhanced consumer role makes the consumer feel important and keeps them engaged with a brand. When a business makes you feel important you are more likely to keep interacting with them. Different engagement levels allow consumers to interact with a business as much as they prefer. One consumer may like to be updated daily about a business whereas another might prefer less interaction with a business.

The best thing a business can be is open and transparent with their consumers. This openness builds trust between the consumer and the business. Consumers never want to feel like they are being lied to, so the transparency helps create that strong consumer-brand relationship.

When a business has a designated social media manager it allows that one person (or team of people) to interact with consumers but also create content. It is key that this social media manager is not separated from the consumers or the employees of the business. This allows them to get insight from both sides. Klepek and Starzyczna state that “internal communication is fuel for the external communication on social networks since the demand for information is continuously increasing.”

No one can deny the fact that social media networks are becoming a more popular way for businesses and consumers to interact. Businesses must use Integrated Marketing Communication techniques to keep consumers engaged in their brand. This article created a new IMC method for a business to use to create and maintain a strong consumer-business relationship.

Isabella Velazquez

I am a senior focusing on Integrated Marketing Communication here at UNCW.

Klepek, M., & Starzyczná, H. (2018). Marketing Communication Model For Social Networks. Journal of Business Economics and Management, 19(3), 500–520. DOI: 10.3846/jbem.2018.6582