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Sunday, December 21, 2014

What Are Customers Saying About You? How Do You Know?

Wired magazine’s September, 2014 cover was a photo of Eric Snowden, period.  No photo caption, no headline, no copy whatsoever.


We won’t take a position on Snowden or the cover.  But as marketers we were intrigued by a follow-up story in Wired that reported on reader reaction.  But rather than the reactions themselves, what really caught our attention was how the tonality of the received comments varied so much by medium.  Wired was clever enough to track responses by each platform.  They reported on the seven most-used sources of feedback/word of mouth.  These high-volume channels ranged from Instagram to Twitter, to their own website and even traditional postal mail.

The strategically relevant story, from a marketer’s point of view, is how much difference there was in the tonality of communications by channel:

Wired’s analysis shows that relying on a ‘content analysis’ from any one source could lead one to drawing conclusions that were completely unrepresentative of the overall sentiment.  The diversity exhibited here clearly suggests the need to monitor multiple social media channels to accurately determine what your customers may be saying about you.

It's What Many Brands Are Doing

But even if you include multiple channels (as Wired did) you're still likely hearing only a fraction of what's being said.  That's because customer comments aren't restricted to only the public social media (Instagram, blogs, Facebook, Twitter, Reddit, YouTube, etc.).  Instead, research from multiple sources tells us that 80% + of all word of mouth takes place through private social media (emails, test messages, phone calls, and plain old face-to-face conversations).

The Lesson from Wired's Analysis

Most astute marketers today understand that consumers control the brand message.  As a result most now make an effort to monitor social media and to respond when and where appropriate.  But the most important lessons the Wired story should teach us are:

  1. Monitoring one or two public social media platforms is not enough. 
  2. Be sure to give your customers multiple channels to reach your brand.  And, be sure you are listening to all of them. 

One Final Reminder

Wired did not consider it in their summary, but you probably should.  The 80%+ of word of mouth that circulates out of the public eye doesn’t all take place through email and hard mail.  The majority likely occurs in private text messages, phone calls, and face-to-face conversations.  If you truly want to understand the forces that are impacting your brand today, and those that will shape the future of your brand, you need a broader, more objective, more representative measurement tool like our Buzz Barometer®.  You need to know how much word of mouth is circulating, through which channels, with what frequency, with what tone, and the exact content that's being communicated


10:17 pm est          Comments

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