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.


  1. Anonymous11:07 AM

    I see this an opportunity and not as a limitation. If a company has resources to invest in social media marketing and social media optimization and can target these customers differently than others, why not? Or, is it possible find a data source that does not have a "bias" in nature? To some extent this bias drives the business and creativity.

    Companies have to figure out how the new pieces of information is useful to their organization and history clearly shows that many organizations lag behind any specific implementations of technology.

    One way to understand new technologies by studying existing technologies. Take for example, CRM. In a CRM world, the only way to get information out a customer is when he or she buys something or the person calls or writes an email/letter to the company. It is a fact that the desire/want/need to buy something arises much before the actual time of transaction. Social media is an attempt to get this information out of these customers and serve them accordingly.

    How do companies use this information to drive their business may depend on their objectives.

    Social media is also good attempt to maximize the organic side of the business. It may not be possible, right now, to directly associate any marginal costs to it, but try telling CEOs that brand and other qualitative measures are hurting the business because they have no incremental cost.

  2. Sure it is an opportunity ... for the 15% of folks who like to interact with that form of media, it is a big opportunity.


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