When you listen to your users, you get vanilla. feature creep. boring. It takes a dictator to create the iPhone and change the course of an entire industry. Imagine if Steve Jobs let other people add features to that device. So I’m surprised that Facebook, which has stared down its users so many times in the past, is folding on the most recent redesign flareup and reverting back to some old features. Just because, oh, a million people demanded it.
“The only way to discover your strengths,” wrote Peter Drucker, “is through feedback analysis.” No senior leader would dispute this as a logical matter. But nor do they act on it. Most leaders don’t really want honest feedback, don’t ask for it, and don’t get much of it unless it’s forced on them. At least that’s what we’ve discovered in our research.
To grow and improve is a desire that most all of us share. Yet, in order to grow and improve we must first be willing to acknowledge our areas of weakness; we must accept who we are in order to become something better. So how can we best recognize our weaknesses? We can stop defending and start listening.
Few things in life are certain. But one thing I have learned that comes pretty close to absolutely certain is this: building fish ponds in the rain forest is futile.
We’ve heard a lot about listening over the past several years as marketers have sought to make the most of the social web. But are we really listening? Former President Calvin Coolidge once remarked that, “No one ever listened themselves out of a job.” Customer feedback today is easier than ever to come by, and experts and observers have encouraged companies to engage in a real dialogue with customers instead of just talking customers’ ears off. As Umair Haque of the Havas Media Lab wrote back in 2008, “listening beats talking.” Companies claimed to have gotten the message, unveiling elaborate listening programs, such as Starbucks’ mystarbucksidea website. More recently, the Wall Street Journal has taken note that business “are listening” to customer reviews and other feedback on sites like Yelp, City Search, and Urban Spoon.
Companies love positive feedback. They share it on Twitter, post it on their website and use it as marketing fodder. But what about when feedback is, well, less than pleasant? What can you do with a handful (or more) of irate customers? Do you ignore them? Bury them out back? Not in today’s social atmosphere. Rather than try to sweep these unhappy customers under the rug, look at them as a challenge and an opportunity to improve your brand and leverage them for some publicity.
YouTube is looking to ramp up engagement between viewers and content creators through the integration of Google Moderator, the search giant’s crowdsourcing and feedback product. Google Moderator, which launched in 2008, is one of the company’s lesser-known products. It allows a person to manage feedback and questions from large groups of people. Users submit their suggestions or questions via Moderator, and can then vote specific questions or suggestions up or down to bring the best ideas to the top.
If the aim of Nike's new ad featuring Tiger Woods was to cause confusion and skepticism, it's a hole in one. Perhaps more importantly, a survey of 600 U.S. viewers by Flemington, N.J.-based HCD Research also noted the controversial commercial's "favorability" for the Nike brand has dropped off, falling from 92% to 79%.
Here's the rub: We've got too much sizzle in the system right now. Social media garnishes every marcom conference and discussion, and I'm already bolting myself in my chair before the unstoppable tweet tsunami from the SXSW crowd over the next 10 days. We're obsessed. Join the conversation! Engage the conversation! Hell, spike the conversation!
Whether they're found in a garage or inside an established enterprise, startups struggle with decisions about process and infrastructure. The speed at which a startup can learn is its competitive advantage and the defining factor in its success. But startups can't rely on the processes and infrastructure that their established competitors use, because those "best practices" tend to kill disruptive innovation.
Hundreds of messages on the boards at PampersVillage.com have criticized changes to Pampers Cruisers in recent months, but a closer look shows an outsized portion of them came from a couple of posters. Social media might be all about big numbers, but in a surprising number of marketing mishaps, a relatively small handful of people were the sparks that turned into online brushfires.
Google Inc. said it would revamp the setup process for its new social-networking service Buzz, apologizing to users for raising concerns about the privacy of the product. In a blog post Saturday, Google product manager Todd Jackson said Buzz would no longer automatically subscribe users to follow the postings of their close Gmail contacts, a move that had spooked many users into believing Buzz was publicizing their private relationships. Instead, after reviewing users' Gmail contacts, it would only suggest people that users should follow but leave whether to do so up to them.
For those of you who have been following Wikimedia's open strategy initiative on this blog, you'll know that one of the goals of the work has been to strengthen the health of the Wikipedia community of contributors who create and use its online encyclopedias. In a healthy community, contributors feel a sense of affiliation and social bonding, they come from diverse backgrounds and expertise areas required to accomplish the project's expansive work, remain open to differences of perspective and able to resolve disputes respectfully. "Community health" is a hot topic among participants engaged in developing the Wikimedia strategy, both within the broader Wikimedia community and outside it.
Be afraid, Madison Avenue. Be very afraid. That seems to be the message in the aftermath of the crowded, frenetic advertising bowl that took place inside Super Bowl XLIV on Sunday. Among those commercials consistently deemed most effective, memorable and talked-about, many were created or suggested by consumers — or produced internally by the sponsors — rather than the work of agency professionals.
There is an almost overwhelming number of options on the social web for businesses to create and participate in communities. You hear a lot about Facebook Fan Pages, Twitter (Twitter) communities, and even LinkedIn Groups; but businesses have another option when looking to build a community online that’s often overlooked despite having nearly 40 million users: Ning. Ning allows businesses to create their own off-site social network for their brand’s community, and participate in existing conversations with the communities they are looking to engage. Here are 6 ways businesses can put Ning to work.
Businesses that want to create long-term sustainable growth will be increasingly moving towards connected company status. That is the place where being social benefits the business by providing insights, strengthening relationships with partners and customers, and building and connecting a community with common grounds and needs. In many organizations, the listening post resides within the marketing group. As we discussed yesterday here and on Twitter, customer service should co-own the space and collaborate to develop big ears during customer conversations and interactions. In many B2B organizations, the customer support role is much expanded and works hand in hand with operations.
Google Sidewiki is a new feature being added today to the Google Toolbar that allows anyone to leave comments about pages as they surf the web. Love something you’re reading? Hate it? You can share your views with others who visit the page and who also have Sidewiki enabled. Share, that is, if Google thinks your comment is good enough. There have been any number of similar tools like this over the years, so many that I’ve lost track of their names (Third Voice was one — thanks, Ethan Kaplan). None really caught on. But this is Google, with millions of toolbars installed. That’s no guarantee of success that Sidewiki will get used, but it’s certainly worth sitting up and taking notice of. Below, how the Sidewiki system works.
GM is continuing to push ahead with a company reinvention and in an unprecedented move, has created The Lab blog to post concept work from the design studios online. Two concepts have just been added which are results of an ECOinitiative project aimed at understanding and developing greener transportation alternatives. The two concepts explore the theme of the ‘Bare Necessity’ which as GM Designer Therese Tant writes is a back-to basics approach, less is more, less cost, less complexity = efficiency.
Sixteen-thousand samples distributed, 3,100 fans professing their admiration and 1,500 product surveys completed. Those are the results from a first-of-its-kind campaign conducted by Splenda for its Splenda Mist prototype, a pocket-size spray form of the sweetener, which has yet to hit the market. Traditionally, marketers in that situation might peddle freebies at grocery stores, embrace street sampling or organize focus groups. Splenda instead turned to Facebook.
Last fall, executives from Oriental Trading Co. read a product review from a woman planning her autumn wedding complaining that her order of fall leaves didn't look anything like the picture on the website. The execs went straight to the warehouse, pulled the product and compared for themselves. She was right -- it didn't look the same. The explanation: The company had recently switched vendors for that particular product, and the new vendor's version wasn't up to snuff. So the company pulled it.
Can a company blunt its innovation edge if it listens to its customers too closely? Can its products become dull if they are tailored to match exactly what users say they want? These questions surfaced recently when Douglas Bowman, a top visual designer, left Google.
It’s one of the most important concepts on the web today—perhaps the most important for social media—but it’s one of the least understood. When James Surowiecki wrote The Wisdom of Crowds in 2004, he explored the stock market and other classic social psychology examples, but “web 2.0” was still nascent. It’s time to connect his ideas to the social web, where they can reach their full potential.
Marketers consistently pick up their best lessons in times of crisis. We think differently about ROI. We act more intuitively. We become more agile and flexible. We "sense and respond." We really don't have much of a choice but to act and not allow yesterday's rules to justify complacency. Two weeks ago, for example, many in the marketing community got their first exposure to the massive power of online video via the disgusting Domino's video by (former) Domino's employees on YouTube and, later, the pizza chain's president's highly effective video apology. There's no question that hundreds of C-level memos crying out "we need a social media strategy" flowed from that crisis.
Yelp is a grassroots-driven business review website that has exploded in popularity in the last few years. That popularity has come with a fair share of troubles, from a lawsuit against a reviewer to shrill cries of extortion by businesses. In fact, Yelp has established a Myths page to dispel some of these misconceptions. However, the truth remains that Yelp is a very powerful guide for tourists and locals alike to find great restaurants and business wherever they might be. And soon, businesses might be able to have a public voice on the site for the first time.