Company Social Zombie

There was a lot of talk about digital Darwinism at the Social Shake-up Conference sponsored by Social Media Today. The fall of companies who fail to take social business seriously sounded a bit like a zombie apocalypse…”We eat companies who don’t have the brains to engage seriously with their customers!!”

Leader Network’s Vanessa DiMauro showcased research at the event that clearly shows that companies becoming socially-enabled businesses are those that focus on customer satisfaction.

TCS’ soon-to-be-released Global Trend Study Mastering Digital Feedback: How the Best Consumer Companies Use Social Media shows a direct connection between social ROI and company cultures that value customer opinions and encourage internal transparency. I’ll be doing a series that explores the four best practices for social ROI uncovered in that study, but in the mean time, let’s take a look at some of the “Absolute Crap Practices” (a term coined by Tom Martin, one of the best business advisers and coaches I’ve ever met).

The Company Has No Idea What a Social Pact Is

Companies talk the social talk but they don’t really understand the “Pact of Social Business.” No, it’s not really written anywhere, you just know or you don’t. Although, Get Satisfaction gave it a very good shot in their Customer-Company Pact. 

When In Doubt, Spam

Because these companies aren’t truly humanistic and engaged, they don’t really understand the new tech tools and channels emerging. If your culture isn’t social and customer-centric, you won’t invest the time and people to build relationships and worthwhile content. Lacking care, imagination and understanding, these companies just flood—SPAM—the new channel with old messages and content.

I feel sympathy for visionary start-up teams devising creative new ways to engage with customers, attract crowds to collaborate, and deliver compelling content only to find companies just want to pump the same ol’ stuff down the new pipe.

Geoff Livingston writes about this self-centric behavior of companies and marketing teams in New Trend, Same Revolution. (Thanks Amy Vernon for the timely link to this article.)

Geoff notes:

“So when a new trend happens, marketers pretend to learn it, then abuse the media technology to spam people with messages.”

Geoff goes on to say:

“The customer revolution is caused by people in control of their own media choices, and choosing unique niche experiences via the Internet. People have more media power than brands now.”

Mad at Spam and Ads

So the net result? If you start abusing a social network like Facebook, then you’ll suffer—customers will disengage or attack you for your behavior. While we all got a bit excited at Social Shake Up when our #socialshakeup tag started trending and  getting spammed, the non sequitur content interfered with the use of social to engage at the event.

As for mobile, companies are far too focused on pushing location ads vs. providing location services. Can you estimate how fast an app lasts on my phone when useless ads come through? About as long as mouse in a snake tank. How’s that for digital Darwinism.

Next Digital Capability to Abuse: Context

The other day @BillQuinn sent me this link to an interview with HubSpot CEO Brian Halligan and I love the absolutely terrific quote of “Content is King, but Context is God.”

So many new sources of insight are available to us with social, mobile, cloud, big data analytics. Insight that can improve customer engagement regardless of channel and more capabilities emerging every day. For instance, my team helps companies analyze trending social data to provide conversation starters and responses to call center and retail staff. Here’s a very specific use case: where and what language does each customer segment use to discuss family or personal  security issues? Feed that to staff so they can engage in the right context and use the same language their customers do.

But, now I’m thinking how many ways will customer-unconscious companies mess this sort of insight up? The article cites Google Adwords as a good example of using data in context…however, I recall my recent attack of knitting ads. Not so contextual.

The fact is that there is data available right now for companies to better engage with customers in context, but many don’t use it or misuse it.  Companies need to develop the understanding and skills to use these digital capabilities, or suffer the consequences.

photo credit: Scabeater via photopin cc


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