Guest Post by: Jo Stratmann

Who is your most valuable consumer?

The one who buys the most from you, the one who generates the most margins or the one who spends the most time in your stores.

Think the answer is “the ones who buy from you the most”? Well, think again…

According to Sudhir Holla, a consultant at Infosys, the answer to the above question has changed in the last couple of years, thanks to social media.

In his post on a Forbes, Holla claims that social media has altered the traditional controlled customer experience to one that is more similar to Multi-Level Marketing (or MLM).

Multi-Level Marketing is a marketing strategy in which the sales force is compensated not only for sales they personally generate, but also for the sales of others they recruit, creating a down line of distributors.

In social media terms, this means the consumer’s voice has the power to influence others, helping to generate sales further down the line. So even though a consumer may just be “just looking” or browsing for a service or product, the fact that social media enables that consumer to spread an opinion about these services or products could help to generate sales further down the line.

This fact is particularly prominent on Facebook where discussions have centered around the fact that friends of fan on Facebook constitute an important incremental audience on Facebook – 34 times larger, on average, for the top 100 brand pages than the fans themselves.

So how do you leverage this trend? Identify your key consumers based not on spend alone but also by those who exert the maximum positive influence among your sector, audience, market or region, or by those who are influential about convincing consumers to buy the products or services offered by you.

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