Part IV of Social Mediaâ€™s Role within Global Businesses
The “Socialprise” of tomorrow will have so many conversations coming at it that internal communication departments will need to create new systems to handle the veritable barrage of input. In environments where conversations, suggestions and thoughts are aplenty, a good part of the marketing job becomes determining what input to consider relevant.
Consider co-creation, crowdsourcing, blog conversations, wikis, etc. Which conversations are the right ones to listen to (above image by gari.baldi)? It’s important to acknowledge and respect every conversation, really this is the customer service element of social media many have discussed. Yet there is a difference between hearing and listening.
As we discussed in part III not all feedback and suggestions can be adapted by a socialized company for a wide variety of reasons. The idea suggested may not be profitable. It could be outside of the company’s core competency. The suggestion could be those of a troll. Or the concept doesn’t reflect the needs of a vast majority of a company’s customer base.
That doesn’t mean the suggestion isn’t valid or that the idea can’t be profitable. But it may not be right for that particular business. How many suggestions in Starbucks’ crowd-sourcing initiative are actually going to make it to market?
Short Term Remarks vs. Long Term Trends
Measuring and monitoring are critical. To successfully understand the conversation in its many forms, corporations need to effectively mine data. For larger companies this can include databases of information stored up over extended periods of time. This enables a company to see trends evolve over months, even years.
Many say that feedback through blogs and crowdsourcing initiatives represent the ultimate, unsolicited focus group. But extrapolated overtime data received from customers, employees and other stakeholders can be analyzed in a scientific manner. This becomes true market research.
Learning to take harvested information to effectively gage the marketplace’s needs for competitive advantage is a different skill. It requires intelligent analysis and understanding that there may be a latent need. On an individual day some feedback may not be recognized as valuable, but taken into a larger context that feedback may be part of a critical trend.
Starbucks customers complaining about large coffee sizes may be disregarded today. Repeated suggestions seen over months on blogs as well as My Starbucks Ideas may cause the company to actively promote Shorts, in addition to Talls, Grandes, and Ventis.
Innovation and new product ideas can be garnered from intelligent research based on feedback. It’s just a question of perceiving the value, and then heeding the conversation.
On Monday, the fifth and final part of this series will examine the end result of conversations, co-creation and crowd-sourcing initiatives. Past episodes of Social Mediaâ€™s Role within Global Businesses:
- Part I: Beyond the Echo Chamber (Social Networks Impact on Business)
- Part II: The Future: Social Networks Will Fly Like a Led Zeppelin
- Part III: Marketing Departments Become Two-Way