Readers of the blog have probably read my earlier blog posts on customer evangelism and the new crop of social media tools that facilitate them (Read my earlier post on the triumvirate of customer feedback sites). As I mentioned at our SXSW panel, increased speed of response to customer complaints is one of the benefits of using tools like twitter.
The Past, Present and Future of Social Media and Business
Social media provides a good way for users to either evangelize or deprecate products/services they use (remember Jeff Jarvis’ series of blog posts on Dell-Hell). From a company perspective, this then affords an opportunity for to either adequately respond or bury their heads in the sand. For e.g. since the Dell hell posts, Dell has not only established a blog but also a social media portal to receive and rank customer issues (Read about the conversion of Dell-hell in an interview with Lionel – Dell’s corporate blogger). And, today Dell is considered a prime example of how large corporations should utilize social media (Starbucks recently started their own customer idea portal, akin to Dell’s Idea Storm).
In a similar incident, Mike Arrington of TechCrunch gave vent to his frustrations about a 36 hour Comcast downtime on twitter, which then got blogged about by Jeff Jarvis and actually got noticed by a Comcast executive who contacted him in a matter of minutes.
Within 20 minutes of my first Twitter message I got a call from a Comcast executive in Philadelphia who wanted to know how he could help. He said he monitors Twitter and blogs to get an understanding of what people are saying about Comcast, and so he saw the discussion break out
20 minutes! This was roughly the same time it took for me to respond to Steve Rubel and for Steve Ganz (my colleague and fellow LinkedIn evangelist) to respond to Erica O’Grady when she had issues with LinkedIn.
The really cool part of twitter is that we’re not necessarily talking about customer service reps monitoring thought processes but rather folks like you and me, who are truly passionate about products/services they use.
This next phase of social media will see the focus on real-time video broadcast sites (like uStream) or mobile video broadcast sites (like qik, etc…) in addition to microblogging sites (like twitter, jaiku, pownce, etc…). The basic thought process around social media tools is that slowly but surely they’re going to enable customer service teams to respond to user complaints in a much faster and more effective manner.
What should I do as a user?
So, what are you waiting for, jump onto the Twitter bandwagon. Don’t do it for the customer service but rather to find like minded communities who organically form around common themes. For e.g. as I continue using twitter, I come across conversations that mention LinkedIn (because I track conversations around “linkedin”) and then I add users who have constructive thoughts on LinkedIn. That way I’m growing my community of users around a common theme – in this case, LinkedIn.
What should I do as a company?
1. Empower your employee evangelists
2. Facilitate smoother communication between them and the teams that can make a difference
3. Champion the cause
The coolest part is that anyone working in a company (particularly those evangelists/enthusiasts who who love your product) can easily track conversations around your favorite company. Here are easy steps outlined by Jeremiah to help any business/company/user get started in twitterland.