ExpoTV recently ran a research study to determine how do consumers relate to each other. While this isn’t Forrester Research, so I will not defend, nor explain their methodology. It’s rare that analysts point to research other than their own, if I put your interests first, you’ll continue to come back to me.
Blog ExpoTV found that:
55% of customers in their survey want to have an ongoing discussion brands
Respondents were most anxious to talk to the product design (49%) department, followed by customer support (14%), marketing (14%) and pricing (13%)
89% said they felt more loyal if they knew the brand was listening through a feedback group (attention insight community vendors)
WOM: Sixty-one percent of survey respondents said that they told at least 10 people about the last brand they liked.
WOM: Eighty-one percent of respondents will tell at least five people.
Despite this evidence, it’s interesting to note that a recent WSJ Article that Most Corporate Blogs Are Unimaginative Failures featuring a Forrester report shows that many corporate blogs (a common way companies talk to customers) isn’t going that well. One common mis-step is that corporate blogs are focused on pushing their own agenda, not that of the readers/customers.
A rather sad paradox, where fear has overtaken an opportunity to improve relationships with patients and clients. While this may not hold true for every pharmaceutical company, I recently met one who had banned it’s employees from monitoring blogs, social media and the online conversation.
[Why did this pharma company ban their employees to monitor blogs? If a patient complained about a treatment or medicine having ill-effects, then the pharma would would be liable to take action]
Responding to every customer can be very, very costly, considering how many people may be talking about medicines, often anonymously in online forums.
We saw similar fear a few years ago as Finance and Insurance companies were afraid to toe-dip into the conversation due to strict government regulations, although were seeing companies like Wells Fargo launch blogs and virtual worlds, aimed at the ‘lifestyle’ discussion, rather than specifics on your checking account, or CD.
Despite this troubling limitations set on the pharma industry has resulted in low adoption, at least two brands have joined the conversation, Johnson and Johnson’s ‘Connect‘, an interactive media site, and Glaxo Smith Klein’s ‘Alliconnect‘ Blog according to Mark Senard.
[Telling employees not to look at blogs is akin as blocking Facebook at work, off duty employees will simply access it at home, or whip out their mobile phones and surf, there's no stopping a Groundswell]
While it’s easy to outline the risks, let’s quickly talk about the opportunities: Pharma companies can improve their customer insight from an ongoing focus group, reduce time to market for new drugs by understanding risks faster and more quickly, and have a stronger connection to customers, making marketing more efficient.
If you know of any pharma companies that have turned a blind eye, or have embraced the conversation, please leave a comment below.
Update: I added “Some” pharma companies as the new title in the post.
I did a quick video interview (hear what he says about Facebook) with Aaron at the plush St Regis hotel at Office 2.0, if you can’t see the video (feedreader or email) go directly to this post.
Aaron Strout, Citizen Marketer, is doing some interesting stuff, he handed me a copy of his book “We are smarter than me” which was written by the community using social computing tools. He had me on his audio podcast, so if you want to hear us, access the 10 minute interview.
If you haven’t noticed, I’m doing these short 2 minute interviews with interesting folks I run into. I keep the format fast and try to respect your time. I find that video is such a great way to see the human side of folks, and it’s so easy to do with my digital camera. Leave a comment a comment if you’ve any thoughts.
Delicious is a social bookmarking tool. It empowers anyone the ability to tag, label, and share with others web pages. For the Web Strategist, it’s a great tool to understand how people think (or don’t think) of your brand. Those who tag your website are more engaged than passive readers, and are sharing your content with others, so pay attention.
How to use?
How do you use it? Go to Delicious, in the search bar, type in the name of your brand, website, or name, and review results. You’ll see some pink highlighed words “Saved by X People”, click on that, and it’ll take you to that page where you can see details of comments, a sorted tag listing, and a history.
Here are the top 5 tags on my index page:
76 tagged the site “blog”
74 tagged the site “strategy”
73 tagged the site “web2.0″
58 tagged the site “marketing”
52 tagged the site “web”
Interesting, I don’t consider myself a Marketing blogger, or a Web 2.0 blogger (I don’t even have a keyword category for that term), to me those are just sub-sets of what Web Strategy is about. It’s amazing the the tags that I use for my own posts are slightly different than readers perceived it. I could even get more granular and look at specific posts that were tagged, try sifting on your own pages.
I did a Delicious search on my Facebook Strategy post, and discovered that the post had been tagged 186 times, I could then drill down and find out what they said (such as Peter He), and what else they tagged –that’s intelligence. What’s amazing is there is far more activity in Delicious than in the comments of the same post.
I did the same for Jennifer Jones’s Marketing Voices, Scoble’s blog,
If you want to learn more about how to use Folksonomies to build a better website, I wrote this post a while back. You should be using these keywords to help you uncover what people are classifying your content as, and as a result should factor into your SEO strategy.
Ian from Conversation Marketing has a great video and “how to” on understanding what users want on your website.
What could you do with this data? Find out what users content they want, how they phrase their terms, what content is missing. Also analyze from where and when they used the search bar, it could provide some clues on what they’re looking for.
[Analyzing search logs right on one's site is a an easy way to understand what users are looking for]
Yes another way to evaluate the user experience. Louis Rosenfeld has a speech, research, and a book on the same topic.
I often ask my audience at my presentations if they’re familiar with Techmeme. I always bring this tool up when the conversation shifts to “us vs them” regarding mainstream media and bloggers. The tech industry is one of the first for bloggers and mainstream to get along and merge into something new. (In fact you should be checking out Techcrunch’s business model, they’re making 200k in advertising every month)
Techmeme is great, it’s a tab that I have open all the time (since late 2005) to gauge what’s happening in the technology industry. It’s a combination of mainstream articles and bloggers that comment and feed off each other. I know mainstream journalists watch it to see what the buzz is, and bloggers comments off the articles and vice versa. It’s interesting to see the different points of every discussion, and some bloggers are SO predictable (take Nicholas Carr for example). I see some bloggers that copy every article and title and make it a blog post so they become part of the breaking news and also benefit from lots of content in search engines.
Gabe Rivera and I have had discussions on what Techmeme is, he calls it a “News” tool, but I say it’s a “Conversation tracker”. To me I can clearly see different points of views going back and forth on the site. I can see people responding to each other in threaded discussions and cross-linking. Also, the Techmeme isn’t always news in the sense that that we’re used to, sometimes the content can have personal information, or product reviews –it’s not always news. At one point, Gabe and I agreed that it’s a tool that tracks different points of view.
So how do you describe Techmeme to others?
I say it’s a Conversation Tracker.
(Left: Mario Sundar and Jeremiah Owyang)
LinkedIn, a social networking contact website is demonstrating how important customers are to them, as they’ve recently hired a Customer Evangelist. This role is appearing in many companies, I had such a role at Hitachi. Mario Sundar, a well-known Marketing blogger and thought leader has accepted the role.
What’s his mission? watch his video
I informally interviewed Mario on video, you can watch as he explains his purpose as a Customer Evangelist, Congrats Mario and congratulations LinkedIn, you’ll now have a better connection with customers, communicate more effectively and continue to put a human face on your company, you couldn’t have picked anyone more friendly and genuine than Mario.
I met with Lionel of Dell yesterday at SXSW (I even had the opportunity to interview him for my video show “Web Strategy, which will be published soon). He told me that Dell is getting around to actually listen to the large request for Linux from the IdeaStorm community, and has launched a survey.
I’ve updated the the Social Media Saga continues as Dell Corporation yearns for “Dell Swell” post, check it out if you want the whole story.
Social Media isn’t always pretty. Sometimes things happen in the news, that hit social networks and spread at rapid pace. So fast that it forces corporations to wake up and pay attention to how the internet is connecting people at a rapid pace. I’ve noticed a pattern today in my feedreading, and although I don’t have a lot of time, I wanted to highlight what I’m seeing as a Web Strategist.
This week, KFC is is the news as this bad press hits YouTube. The president promptly responded, and even did an online video, good job Gregg and KFC. View video remarks from KFC President Gregg Dedrick (although they need a direct link to the video, I had to splice this code together in order to link to it directly). I hope they keep this open transparent dialogue going, have you read my Web Strategy on Why Online Video is good for your Corporate Executives and How to Deploy?
Brand Hijacking is when customers and the marketplace take your brand and create their own messages, experiences, and share with others. For most corporate marketers, this is scary stuff. This WalMart Watch blog is taking on Walmart Corporation as well as Edelman. They’re calling for video submissions to support their cause. Even Wikipedia has an extensive section focused on some public shortcomings.
Related: Sean’s added a comment below that really should be elevated, he’s provided some coverage of Jet Blue’s execs humble and sincere video apologies and customer bill of rights.
I’ve some other examples of some videos that were created on YouTube against Starbucks. Today, I find it interesting that Dave Winer is calling out some recent online activities. It’s disappointing to some that Dell is saying to Linux users: Not so fast. I was hoping they were on to something, the saga is still not over.
Update: I’ve had my eye on this book, Citizen Marketers I hope to get a chance to read it in the near future. They’re doing a book tour, and will be at the Customer Reference forum, where I’ll be presenting.
Chronicling the Dell Social Media Saga
I’ve been watching this Dell story for quite a while, even been on a panel with blog expert Shel Israel, author of Naked Conversations discussing it.
[Dell has come so far, they've learned to listen, converse, and lower the corporate walls. While this saga is not over, this is becoming a classic case study of a corporation making a 180 degree turn using Web Tools]
Gone to Hell, Cursed, and Exploded
Dell’s taken a freaking beating in the past years due to social media bloggers. you can do a search on Dell Hell, and at one time, if you did a Google Search on the term “Dell Support” bloggers not happy with their support come up. (Today’s Google results show it’s still on the first results page)
Joining the Conversation, Cautiously, then with Gusto
Dell launched their One to One blog, which was met with mixed feedback. While some didn’t think they did an authentic job at joining the conversation, others supported them for the effort. A few weeks after the initial launch, Dell started to publically recognize their faults. At CES, I had the pleasure to hang with Michael Dell himself, (thanks to Lionel) where Dell said they were going to start embracing Social Media, watch the video yourself.
Turning it up with Customer Collaboration
Just a few days ago, I helped to announce IdeaStorm, the idea was for Dell to create a Customer Feedback/Collaboration web tools that will let customers and employees create products together. Marshall Kirkpatrick at Techcrunch, wasn’t sure if I was completely right that employees were fully onboard. Engadget cleverly modifies the tagline as they state that Dell Wants You to Make It Suck Less with Digg Clone.
Acknowledging the Voice of the People
Well it appears that Dell corporate (which I hope includes some employees) that they are on board and that they are taking IdeaStorm seriously. On this summary list, Dell demonstrates they are listening to what customers have been saying. A very strong meme is leaning towards open platforms (or none at all). It’s even moved it’s way up Digg, a popular user voting site. Not sure if the solution is worked out, as the costs may be even higher to get a wiped hardware machine.
Blindsided from ignorance
Learned how to listen
Built tools to join the conversation
Learned the right way to interact
Reached to community
Acknowledged customer requests
Next Step (and most important) For Dell:
This is the most important part, the final leg of this cyclical journey is to get Dell to give the products that the people ask for.
Document and Measure
It will be very interesting to see if there’s a reduction in Product Research costs from these tools. Could be a very insightful case study on Social Media ROI for corporations, I hope Dell shares this info with me. Keep at it Lionel Menchaca (the Community Manager), Michael Dell and the rest of the Dellions. By the way, if this whole concept is very new to you, I recommend you read the Cluetrain Manifesto.
Update March 2: The saga continues with IdeaStorm injures scores at Dell — “sounded like a freight train”. Apparently, Dell will not be building what the people asked for in IdeaStorm. Ars Technica speculates the many reasons why it doesn’t make sense for Dell. For what it’s worth, either way, the market knows what the market wants, and it’s documented, in addition for great buzz for Dell.
Update March 13th:
Dell has made an announcement that it plans to offer Linux to customers, the flavors will depend on how users answer the survey. I met with Lionel yesterday, and knew about this in advance. I was able to interview him for my video Web Strategy Show, he’ll be up soon.
Update March 29th:
After reviewing over 100,000 survey submissions, Dell is now offering it’s Linux flavored offerings. The company is listening.
Update April 3rd, 2007:
Lionel Menchaca visits in person with Jeff Jarvis, who first coined the business blogging case study “Dell Hell”. This community relations in real life was a success.
Update May 24th, 2007
Ubutu, a flavor of Linux is finally released as a product. Lionel uses video to tell his story.
Update June 16th 2007
The consumerist releases an ex-employees 22 tips on how to buy the best computer, although Dell demands a retraction. Jeff Jarvis sympathizes with Poor Dell, Lionel of Dell responds from the Dell one to one blog.
Update October 18, 2007
Dell’s continued push to reach to customers has paid off, relationships, communication and conversations are starting to be the very fabric of their company. Business Week runs this story, praising Dell for all that they have done. A few times people have told me they are tired of hearing about Dell as the case study of success, the problem is, few or no other companies have moved this far in such a short time. The deserve our applause.