Product/Service Recommendations, Support…More Than You Want to Know
" He MySpaced me." - Mary - He's Just Not That Into You (2009)
Not long ago we read that back in the late 1800s when electricity was first demonstrated people fell to their knees in amazement.
The individuals who demonstrated it probably felt omnipotent.
No one questioned or challenged them.
Today you've got to do something really spectacular to get more than a few lines in someone's blog.
Technology permeates everything today. It is an integral part of almost every movie.
Even girlie girl movies (we go to keep peace in the household)!
Tech toys have become integral parts of our homes/offices.
Our kids feel lost if they don't have them...all.
- Mobile device that does everything - music, email, text, video, even phone calls
- Digital still/video camera
- Broadband access
- HD TV
- Game console(s)
- Notebook computer for TV, music, games, study
- Home network/NAS
Kids get them first then the adults.
These people are Geoffrey Moore's Chasm innovators, early adopters.
But most adults are what Moore classified as early or late majority (well across the chasm) where the kinks have been worked out.
The problem, challenge is the stuff never seems to be as easy to use as engineers and the kids make it out to be.
We're not certain but when we look at the back of the device, we're real glad we have a kid in the house!
It used to be you read or heard about a company or product you would go to their web site and learn about the product.
Today people expect more from the web sites they visit...lots more.
Consumer posting sites such as cnet.com, amazon.com, buy.com and hundreds of general and specific social net sites have helped customers learn more about the products and company's customer support activities before they buy. If you have any question whatsoever you'll find postings - pro and con - with just a few mouse clicks.
With all your questions answered, you ran to the store or went online to lay down your credit card, bought your new tech toy and bring it home.
Then all you have to do is install it, sit back and enjoy!
It didn't take long for folks to figure out how to gather/share information with just about everyone.
That was about the time our kids made email communications look so yesterday.
Virtual communities cropped up over night.
People were connecting with people.
Communities of Communities
Communities divided into smaller, more specialized communities.
People everywhere became connected.
They were using search engines, favorite sites, homepages, portals, IM conversations, social sites.
Social network sites have become such an increasingly important part of people's lives because they enable you to work/interact closely with others who have a common interest.
They give you power.
They enable you to influence others (including manufacturers).
They give people a platform to hear and be heard (pro and con).
We found it interesting that over half the people who provided feedback on products/services were positive most of the time.
Thirty-six percent were positive every time.
Few people jumped online just to complain or be vicious/mean about the company, product or service.
They joined to learn, exchange ideas/hints, become involved, even help others.
Guess this online stuff isn't so bad after all...
For the most part there are business models and community benefits behind most social media.
Who Said That?
One hundred and 40 characters to use just to say you have a headache, you're going to the ball game, follow someone's election, comment on their speech...big deal.
However, Danielle Levitas of IDC recently noted that Dell had a Twitter used/refurbished equipment account.
Since Dell has had their share of missteps in the social media arena we wondered just how good of an idea that could it be?
They've sold over $1 million worth of returned/refurbished equipment with those lousy 140 characters.
Ok it won't fund any stimulus program but for gawd sake...$1 M out of 140 characters?
Not too shabby!
But, the social network tool that has really come into its own today is the blog.
Sure the first you heard about blogs was that they were going to turn everyone with a computer/connection and everyone would become a citizen journalist.
Instead people blogged to tell tales out of school...write their (boring) memoirs in real-time...badmouth their company/boss...document fanciful stories of their personal/business exploits.
Yes a lot of those still persist but they quickly become web filler because no one views them.
Now though there are gazillions of really good, really informative, really useful business blogs.
eMarketer estimates that more than 116.1 million people read them.
Some people read blogs multiple times a day, others daily, others weekly but the number of readers and frequency keeps rising.
There are horizontal, vertical, niche, niche niche and niche niche niche blogs out there.
Some of these blogs have 2,000 - 20,000 plus readers.
The number pales compared to news web sites but that kind of readership is nothing to sneeze at!
Is Anyone Out There?
Just as with social sites there are all types of blogs:
- you name it...
They're of interest to companies because internal and external blogs are talking about your company, your products, applications, service, lack of service, uses your engineers never even dreamed of, ah ha improvements you'll read and say...YEAH!!!.
The challenge is finding blogs that are of most interest to you as a company. Blogs on specific stuff/topics you're interested in for yourself and your business.
Blogs are beginning to play a big role in corporate and individual buying decisions.
Balanced blogs -- not rah rah, defensive or negative -- are credible to readers even when they are clearly/evenly written by company personnel.
That's a major reason individuals and firms are spending hundreds of hours to ensure their web sites, placements and blogs are optimized for search engines (that's how people first begin their global search to find the subject, topic, item they are researching).
Business email still tops the communications hierarchy according to recent Nielsen Co. reports but it is so one-to-one communications.
The overall social media category though is a way to share concepts, ideas, information across a world of individuals interested in the same subject. Firms are even using social media to speed and share information/ideas across the entire organization.
Web-based activities are becoming invaluable to organizations that want to lower their engineering, developing, marketing costs by getting information and ideas directly from existing and potential customers.
At the same time social media enables firms to quickly, economically capture knowledge and leverage the best information inside and outside the organization.
The power and importance of social media for businesses is growing in leaps and bounds.
There are a lot of reasons for firms and the marketplace:
- It's fast - ask the community for inputs BAM!!! you've got a ton of ideas, thoughts, recommendations. Most very professional, very thoughtful, maybe even useful
- Direct communications with the customer base on how they use the products/services so you know how to plan for tomorrow
- Properly managed, used and interpreted it is remarkably inexpensive to carry out. In today's business environment that's vital
Fast, accurate, low cost...what more could you ask for?
Well it would be nice ... really nice if all of those Chasm Innovators and Early Adopters volunteered to help those Early, Late Majority and yes those **** Laggards jump the Chasm.
The sooner the "majorities" see how good and useful the new innovations are the faster technology will lead the world to recovery.
Whatever they can do to open the lines of communications with most of the present and potential customer base will help us all.
After all social media is a ripple in the way businesses do business.
Social media finally puts control in the hands of the marketplace.
That control also implies a responsibility - not to tear the institution down with misinformation or constant complaints.
If there's a problem or an issue, use your social media locations to influence changes and action.
Some consumers may not believe it but most of people in the technology industries aren't simply putting in their time.
They're trying to make a contribution...a difference.
They don't expect you to fall on your knees when they turn the light on.
It would be nice though if you didn't call them every name in the book when the product/service doesn't work exactly they way you think it should work.
And if you opened the user's manual you probably couldn't follow the information right?
Remember an engineer or tech wrote the manual and to him/her 80% of what he/she didn't include in the documentation "everyone" knows.
All we have to do is get Chasm left side personnel to translate for people on the right side of the Chasm.
It's like Gigi said in He's Just Not That Into You..."Knowing after all the unreturned phone calls and broken-hearts, through the blunders and misread signals, through all the pain and embarrassment... you never gave up hope."