Shopping is meant to be an enjoyable, almost therapeutic experience – isn’t it? Yes, but the reality is it can also turn into an extremely frustrating exercise too. With the internet and its world of information and networks at our fingertips these days, it’s not unreasonable to expect to be able to find product details and reviews with minimal fuss. One connected woman found during her shopping adventures however, that independent appliance product information and reviews across all areas of the internet are almost a myth.
As a key innovation and social media expert for one of this country’s largest financial institutions, Annalie Killian knows her way around the internet, and so she immediately went online during her kitchen renovations to search out the appliances most highly rated by her peers. As an early adopter of all social media networks and tools, (dating back to the beginning of social media in 2002 with www.ryze.com) Annalie’s researching and networking skills are almost second to none – and the lack of independent product reviews on the internet disappointed her.
“I found it extremely difficult to find any reviews not written by the manufacturer. I went onto Choice and found even them to be far behind; they hadn’t even reviewed the latest models in most cases,” Annalie told www.connectedwomen.net.au
Specifically, Annalie was looking for information on a new Samsung Nanotech washer she had heard about that uses silver particles to clean clothes. Aware of nanotechnology as a new phenomenon and of the fact that ingesting silver into the body turns one blue, Annalie extensively searched the internet for independent reviews. Frustratingly, she was unable to find anything on blogs, discussion forums or anywhere on social media.
“It was a similar exercise with kettles and toasters. After shoes and handbags, women like nice looking appliances. And as many nice-looking appliances I could find in David Jones, I had no way of knowing if they functioned well. I even went on to Twitter to ask my community, and I got no response at all other than from Clodagh Higgins,” Annalie said.
Clodagh (friend of Connected Women) and Annalie sat down to discuss what they perceived as a serious missed opportunity by appliance manufacturers.
“We discussed the fact that appliance makers should be watching twitter. If they enabled a #hashtag search around keywords such as kettles, Sunbeam or Philips for example, the time poor of us would be able to go for a quick coffee break while we’re shopping and find out what we want to know in that short span of time,” Annalie told www.connectedwomen.net.au
When Twitter is used well
Annalie experienced “astonishing and delightful” customer service via Twitter from a well-known telecommunications company who responded to her tweet for assistance. Following her Twitter alert for help, the company contacted Annalie directly, solved her problem and then followed up to ensure she was happy with the result – and Annalie doesn’t see why appliance manufacturers don’t behave the same way.
“Imagine if you could ask a question about an appliance or brand on Twitter and solicit a similar response – maybe in the form of an invitation to their showroom to see their range or an offer to be sent recommendations from other users,” Annalie said.
According to Annalie, the uptake of this kind of communication by businesses is astonishingly slow as they view it as yet another overhead, and appear to be scared people will use it solely as a complaint channel. Annalie believes they should view Twitter as the business growth tool that it is.
“Twitter is not a waste of time as some of these companies might think. If manufacturers had a twitter alert connected to a phrase appropriate to their products, or to their Twitter name then they would be able to respond quickly, have a conversation, get their brand name out there and create a relationship of trust. Remember you never know how many people are watching a conversation on Twitter!” Annalie said.
Twitter, a shopper’s best friend
Twitter is now available in the palm of one’s hand thanks to the advent of smartphones, giving it the opportunity to become a woman’s must-have shopping accessory should manufacturers and brands take the time to embrace the medium.
“If I were Philips for example, I would include my @twittername on my in-store display or on my product packaging as a means to direct people to a channel of information. People shopping for small appliances won’t necessarily be researching beforehand, as these are products you can fit in the car. So in many cases people want to be able to access the information quickly – and Twitter is the perfect way to do this,” Annalie told www.connectedwomen.net.au
“Companies that don’t embrace social media are just leaving money on the table,” she added.