May 20, 2008

ACCM 2008: Social Media

In one session, the speaker asked the audience of about one-hundred catalog/retail/online (aka Multichannel) marketers if they used Google Alerts to tell them when customers or other individuals were speaking about their brand.

Not one person raised their hand.

An attendee told me ... "I just don't understand this viral stuff. I'm supposed to just trust that customers will spread my message via word of mouth?" When we've been raised to push a message to customers, it isn't easy to trust that others will do the work for us, if the message is worthy of spreading.

Another attendee told me ... "We jumped all over e-commerce ten years ago. We're going to be the last to jump on social media."

This theme came up several times ... "Why would I plunge into social media when we can't even get the resources to manage our website properly?"

Monitoring your brand is free and it is easy. Assign one person the job of monitoring what folks are saying about your brand. Oftentimes, it is good to pick a gifted person in your contact center. These folks listen to customers every day. Change the focus of this person --- to listening to customers via social media instead of customer complaints submitted via existing channels.

The attendees who spoke with me suggest social media is down the list of priorities, but is high on the list of things to pay attention to. And that is a shame, given that monitoring social media is free, and participating only requires time.

More than anything else, I sensed that the attendees were so buried under other topics that social media represented another competing priority --- one that isn't guaranteed to generate a positive ROI.

And catalogers love generating positive ROI.


  1. Anonymous7:37 AM

    Cool! I didn't even know about the alerts. It's a pretty nice tool. I just set up 10. I don't know why anyone who's involved with a business that has to be competitive online would hesitiate on taking advantage of something like this!

  2. Anonymous2:52 PM


    I saw a stat today that said that around 11% of the Fortune 500 now have corporate bloggers. Still a ways to go. We are definitely at the early adopter and quickly closing in on the early majority phase.

    Great call on where to find a person to start listening. In fact we often refer to listening to social media as answering the social phone at Radian6. The big difference of course is that someone calling out a brand online is doing it in public for everyone to hear.

    If they are saying nice things then being able to reach out and thank them potentially would encourage them and others to do the same. Ignoring someone with a complaint or product suggestion is like trying to pretend you don't hear someone on a soapbox in a crowded park with a loud speaker (who's yelling at the top of their lungs non-stop from now to infinity). A corporation would never let this happen in real life so letting it happen in social media (where the impact can be even greater) is not necessarily good practice.

    You are definitely right that getting started with listening is easy. It would be like a business starting by at least installing a single phone to take calls. Everyone should do it. Of course pretty soon the volume can become quite large, the priority of which to focus on first, the ability to see issues and trends, the capability to understand who's potentially more influential (having more impact) etc.. And much like companies move from a single phone to more sophisticated call centres some may also decide to invest a bit in more advanced, real-time monitoring tools that make the job of listening to all forms of social media much easier and efficient.

    But the important thing is to get started which your post so nicely illustrates.



  3. Anonymous5:04 PM

    You're absolutely right, Kevin, to recommend businesses start somewhere to manage their online reputations.

    As you mentioned, there are tons of free tools - I recommend Attensa's RSS reader for persistent searches (it will constantly search social media and 18 different search engines) and Summize to manually search Twitter for mentions of brand and product names.

    Have the tools do the labor intensive work, and a gifted contact center employee can watch the cyber world and continue to be productive and engaged with prospects and customers every day - until they're so busy online that they can prove their impact.

    The important thing is that the conversations are roaring online.


    Dipping toes in these waters is never too late, and certainly no longer too early.


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