2010: The Year Of The Social Customer

I hereby proclaim 2010 to be the Year of the Social Customer.

It was right about this time last year that I commented on a blog post which reported that “marketers plan to focus more on customers” in 2009. That was 10 months after a blog post which talked about NYSE’s CEO Report which was proclaiming 2008 to be the Year of the Customer.

This year, I figured I’d get out ahead of the curve and be the first to proclaim 2010 to be the year of the customer. But I’m not content to just repeat what others have been saying for the past 10 years (in the hope that you forgot that they said it the year before).

I’m going to go one step further and call 2010 the Year of the Social Customer.

It’s really going to happen next year — I promise.

In 2009, research conducted by my firm found that a minority of customers trust banks (and that that percentage is falling among Gen Yers). The financial services industry has also seen a “debtor’s revolt” this year, regulatory efforts enacted to reform credit card fees and rates, and talk of overhauling banks’ ability to charge overdraft fees.

So I think it’s somewhat safe to say that — in the world of financial services, at least — 2009 hasn’t been the “year of the customer.”

But next year will be. I just know it.  Because social media changes everything.

Banks who adopt Twitter will be transformed into organizations that develop strong relationships with their customers. Thousands — no wait, millions — of bank customers will become friends and fans of their banks’ Facebook pages. If Facebook can engender peace among nations, surely it can repair the relationships between banks and their customers.

Anyway, I’m not sure why I’m trying to prove why 2010 will be the year of the social customer. No one who proclaimed previous years to be the year of the customer offered reasons why, so I don’t know why I have to.

Maybe it’s because not everyone agrees with me.

An outfit called The Marketing Democracy has heralded 2010 to be the “year of the good idea” (wouldn’t want to set the bar too high by declaring it the year of the great idea, now do we?). As reported by Marketing Charts:

The recent past suggests that integrated marketing, as an industry, has become hyper- focused on the dynamics of channels to such an extreme that it has taken its eye off the ball. However, when a collective realization is made that marketing channels serve only as pipelines for content and that only great content can be both ‘pushed’ and ‘pulled’ along at the new ‘ speed of share’, the good ideas will begin to flow again. Without a good idea, the content will simply evaporate.”

I’ve read this over and over, at least 10 times. I can’t for the life of me understand what it means. What “good ideas” are being referred to? Are there too many  “bad ideas” currently “flowing” around? I’m hoping that one of the smart people who may read this can help me out here.

So remember, when you start hearing the proclamations that 2010 will be the year of the customer, you heard it here first. I’m such a visionary.

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