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Category: Social Media Published on Tuesday, 20 July 2010

Social Media – Knowing What They’re Saying

 
Figure 1 – People Are Talking – Customers have gained a new sense of enablement with today’s 1:1 social media by being able to express themselves globally with effortless Web outlets.  They can voice their opinions, their issues, their concerns, their recommendations to anyone who does a little surfing to find their information postings.  

In this industry, you have both B2B (business-to-business) and B2C (business-to-consumer) communications. B2B was easy.  You talked with distributor, retail management/buyers. 

B2C was something usually left to customer service/customer support because it was a product/service question/problem.  It was resolved…life went on. 

Web 2.0 social media changed it all.   The Web’s social media watering holes have made it possible for people to get more purchasing assistance beyond their own reading and the folks next door. Suddenly, guidance, assistance -- more than you ever wanted to know -- are only a few clicks away.  

They’re ThereR

Right now, probably three billion people are online with more than three million plus social media options: 

-        blogs
-        micro-blogs (Twitter, Yammer)
-        Wikis
-        Public consumer Nets (Facebook, MySpace)
-        Private social net tools (Lithium, Mzinga)
-        Public news, information, fun sites (DigitalMediaNet, YouTube, CNet, etc)
-        Consumer websites (AlienBabelTech, JocGeek, OcModShop, more) 

Information, recommendations – good, bad and ugly -- are everywhere. It has also become more difficult to separate fact from fiction, hype from reality, blind love/lust from true satisfaction.  

Right now, hundreds of millions of consumers worldwide are using social networks, blogs, microblogs, online forums and video-sharing sites. Word of mouth leads to 50+% of most purchasing decisions.

Beats ads, literature, trade shows, demos, publicity, you name it hands down! The very best sources, according to Forrester Research, are family members or friends. 

Then, according to ORC (Opinion Research Corp), they check:

·         customer reviews/ratings – 57%
·         blogs/forums – 50%·         online videos – 48%
·         social sites – 43%·         RSS feeds – 27%
·         Microblogs – 8% 

Search Is On

The Web and social media have become the first place people turn when they need a product, a service, a solution, some assistance, an idea or simply want to share information with others.    Figure 2 – Growing Choices – The world of social media just keeps expanding, enabling people to connect with their online communities.  They are also prime opportunities for companies, products, staff members to connect with customers and prospects/suspects.  Source – Internet Retailer 

Most of the social media landscape is of little or no interest to you unless

:-          you want to sell something
-          you want to find out what your competition is doing and how they’re being received
-          you want to find out what people are saying about you, where, why 

We recently made the analogy of social media being a lot like herding cats (the phrase was made “famous” by EDS in a Super Bowl commercial years ago) because cats can’t be herded…neither can consumers and people on the web! 

Comments about your company, your policies/programs, products/services can sweep like a wildfire on the open plain, influencing the government, partners, consumers.   

It can be good, it can be bad. 

If it is negative, it costs time, money, work to bring customers back – some will never return. 

If it is positive, it can overrun your ability to meet consumer demand. 

As the online communities increase in size, number, character; companies will refine their activities to develop “word of mouth equity” that can be used to strengthen their understanding of the customer’s wants/needs (present/future), produce sales, blunt the effect of cheap store brands compared to name brands and draw upon when problems, issues arise.             

That’s why it’s important to be proactive in the social media arena. Next, we’ll discuss how you can get started.

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Attention Facebook users: Check out Michael Berman's Jocgeek fan page at www.facebook.com/jocgeek, or follow him on Twitter @jocgeek.  You can also contact him via email at jocgeek@earthlink.net.  Mike's blog can also be found on the Huffington Post website at http://www.huffingtonpost.com/michael-l-berman/.