October 16, 2008

Limitation Of Social Media: Online Introverts And Online Extroverts

In the real world, when folks gather in a meeting room, we notice that extroverts voice their opinion, while introverts remain quiet. If we listened only to the extroverts, we'd obtain a biased viewpoint.

Online, we're told to cater to web extroverts, folks who blog and twitter themselves into a froth. We're encouraged to build a community, we're encouraged to cater to a vocal minority.

But what happens when we are successful, when we build a community, only to learn that this segment of customers are online extroverts, and are not representative of the overall customer? What happens when this segment of customers demands free shipping and 30% off, all day, every day? What happens when this small but vocal minority makes demands that aren't in the best interest of the brand we manage? Do we listen? Do we act?

In some ways, the business intelligence analyst and web analytics expert must learn to segment customers into online introverts and online extroverts, catering to each segment in a unique manner.

The CEO gets to have less fun. She needs to remember that her vocal social media community only represents a minority of her customer base, a loud minority that disproportionately communicates their needs. She needs to satisfy the needs of the online extrovert, while protecting the interests of the online introvert who does not communicate needs. The CEO knows that catering to online extroverts may result in alienation of online introverts.