These conversations are creating "social markers" on brands. "Social markers" is a term created by Hugh MacLeod whose blog, GapingVoid, defines social markers as " a prime form of social shorthand, that people use to STAKE OUT the ecosystem they're occupying". A brands social marker can be either good or bad. It is tagged by the conversations of those that have experienced the brands product, service or culture.
Every business has an ecosystem forming within the social web. The ecosystem is driven by the people who have experience with your brand. Whether suppliers, employees or customers the relational experience with your brand is what influences your brands "social marker". The social web is an "ecosystem" that enables conversations to spread like wildfire and the more conversations the more attention the conversations create.
If your brand is a positive "social marker", within this ecosystem, you will have a competitive advantage on the other hand if your brand is a negative social marker well just think about the implications.
Is Social Markers creating a Shift?
Theo Papadakis wrote a post which first appeared in the 2nd Online Customer Engagement Survey Report, and his ending comment states "The first questions for would be customer-engagers should not be "what technology should we deploy?", nor "how can we engage our audience?", but instead: "What is it that our customers are currently doing, where are they doing it and what do they want to achieve." And guess what - the best person to ask is ... your customer."
While agreeing with the context of Mr. Papadakis post the train may have already left the station. The train we're referring to is a shift in control from the brands desire to engage the customer to the customer taking control over the engagement.
Today business relies on CRM products designed to facilitate customer needs into a framework designed by the supplier. It is like telling your spouse or children "I want your feedback but only within this context". The feedback system is not designed to listen rather to control the context into "frames" the supplier thinks are important to us rather than "open conversations" that are important to us, the customer. Most corporations would consider the thought of having "open conversations" with a large audience of customers a nightmare of uncontrollable cost. When they consider the "technological tools" of the social web they think of it as tools to control and manage, the customer.
The flaw in this thinking is that people would rather simply be heard than managed. Managing and acting on the intelligence gained from conversations is a much more effective way of building stronger relations. The outcomes should scream "I heard you" and subsequent actions should demonstrate that we've changed or learned something as a result of what we heard. Automated conversations are not real conversations.
The Old Methods Have Failed The New is in Control
People are now empowered to influence brands by the reach and influence of conversations, one to one to millions. These conversations are becoming social markers. Frustrated by brand promises not fulfilled, old sales and marketing tactics, dysfunctional corporate cultures, the people are speaking out and are managing, creating and influencing markets. Instead of businesses managing customer, customers will influence how businesses are managed.
Which method are you prepared for? The old or the new?
What say you?
Image in this post originated from http://www.conversationagent.com/, owner, Valeria Maltoni