B2B and B2C verticals have always stolen the limelight and other industry verticals such as B2E and C2C have never received much attention from the industry experts. Nevertheless, the unprecedented rise of social media has changed this lopsided setting.
Social media's reach has penetrated through the micro-interaction level to be able to govern all segments of our lives, and like B2B and B2C, consumer to consumer interactions have also been affected due to this.
In this article, we'll have a recap of how C2C has been leveraged by social media all through the last few years, and to which direction social media's influence on C2C might head off in the future.
C2C in the past
In the past, C2C was not organized, and it was hardly recognizable as an industry spectrum. C2C's owes its consolidation to the print media. We used to see classified ads in the newspapers in the 80s and 90s - the ads were on property buying and selling, pet care, second-hand cars, rental accommodations and many more.
It's not that we don't see those ads anymore, only there are many alternatives to print ads these days, which wasn't the case 20 or 30 years back. Majority of the newspaper ads, posted back then, featured consumer to consumer interaction. One consumer wanted to sell something and was looking for another end consumer who'd buy it - most ads were like that.
This key structure of C2C hasn't changed a bit, it is all the same. The only thing that has changed is the platform. Earlier, the platforms for C2C were very few. But as we stated above, social media has changed this. There are so many platforms these days through which one consumer can communicate with another. Hence, social media has done C2C a huge favor; social media has allowed it to become more accessible.
Enter the brands
It took time for the brands to get a hold of how C2C-social media nexus can leverage them. But as soon as they apprehended this, they started to take initiatives to enter into the C2C domain. Unlike B2B and B2C, C2C lacks a definitive framework. Any platform can be used for a C2C conversation. Two consumers can interact with each other at anywhere and at any time. They can interact while posting comments on a blog, being logged in on a social network or even in a chat room.
Brands seized the opportunity to become ubiquitous and to reach out to consumers. They only needed to wear the face of an ordinary consumer, who is a John Doe or a Richard Roe, and they did exactly that. The fact that Internet preserves anonymity has helped the brands to better understand and approach consumers.
A practical example could help understand this better. Facebook, the social networking giant has almost 1 billion registered users. But approximately 70-100 million of them are fake profiles, and a sizable percentage of them were created for the sole purpose of product/service endorsements.
Brands are often in disguise of common users so they could reach out to other users. The beautiful girl who flaunts her Ferrari in almost all her pics, could very well be a fake profile, behind which a social media marketing team is working on behalf of an esteemed auto manufacturing company.
Social media led C2C in future
C2C has already been leveraged by social media and that in turn has benefited brands. So far, the approach of the brands have been indirect. They didn't directly pitch their products, rather kept their tone sublime.
In future, however, they may come up with a more straightforward approach. Although C2C is for end consumers, brands can also consolidate their presence. How could this happen? Brands can create C2C platforms such as websites for rental accommodation, for buying and selling of used goods, etc. End consumers will frequent those websites and be approached by brands.
The idea is feasible, the only thing that is required to implement it is a presence across all corners of social media. To put it simply, if brands want to show a leg, then depending on the existing social networks is not enough, they need to create new social channels. Nothing of this sort has happened so far. But in the future, we may get to see such initiatives being taken.
This way, C2C will get a new identity. The end consumers will frequent the C2C portals and brands will manage those portals. End consumers will be better approached by brands, who'd monitor the conversations between consumers to gather relevant information, needed to understand consumers better.
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