31st December 2007

Satisfaction, Loyalty and Affinity…

I had the good fortune to eat Sushi, have some 1:1 discussion and participate in a short video for Jeremiah this past month while he was in Seattle attending the Web Community Forum.  The video gave me a chance to talk a bit more about finding, thanking and engaging influential’s as part of developing a more effective advocacy and user listening strategy.  Ultimately, I like to think of engagement in the following lifecycle:


  • Satisfaction is really just "brushing your teeth" - basic hygiene.  You have users who believe what you provide meets their needs.  Nothing more or less.  The barrier to be replaced here is pretty low.  And realistically, few mature companies have large scale customer dissatisfaction issues - they more likely have large scale customer apathy issues.
  • Loyalty is obviously a higher achievement.  At this point, you’ve earned users who show up in your Net Promoter scores and exhibit behaviors of likelihood to recommend. 

In my experience, this is where a lot of the measurement ends.  However, this is short of the destination that brands we envy elicit from their customers.  Does loyalty really capture the essence of the Harley Davidson or Four Seasons customers?  It doesn’t capture how I feel about Cookshack! The word "customer" is probably not even the right word in these cases!

  • Affinity is an even stronger measure of alignment with a brand, product or service.  What does it look like?  The behavior I look for is "likelihood to defend."  If someone "attacks" your product, service or brand, does someone show up to defend it?  We all know the credibility that the brand itself has in defending its products or services - pretty limited.  I’m not advocating the brand doesn’t participate here, I’m merely making the point that other users are generally more credible advocates. 

Note:  Overly supportive/pushy/argumentative "fanboys" can be counterproductive in this, so take care with the extremes.

A few questions for brand/product managers are:

  • What are the drivers that move users across this continuum?
  • What is the cost model for the drivers?
  • What is a healthy distribution in my relative industry and competitive market?  If I was Marriott, would the same distribution goal make sense as the Four Seasons?  Probably not. 
  • What is the my current vs desired state distribution?

Thanks again Jeremiah for taking the time for the video and here’s a link to watch.


Popularity: 90% [?]

posted in Business Strategy, Influencers, Social Media, Voice of Customer, Word of Mouth, web 2.0 | 4 Comments

6th December 2007

The arrival of The Blog Council…

Well, I’ve been slow to blog this today as I was at the Web Community Forum a good chunk of the day, but I wanted to get something up on this before the moment passed.

The Blog Council has officially launched.

Lots of discussion today about it…I think Lionel over at Dell does a good job of capturing how I feel about this so please have a read. 

In the end, the core issue for me is simple.  I have learned more about social media and community from talking with fellow practitioners than any other single activity.  It’s kind of an oh, duh thing to say, but it amazes me how few people really do get out and invest the time to listen, read and learn. The opportunity to be a part of this and listen and learn from other real world corporate practitioners was way to good to pass up. 

A number of other posts as well you’re welcome to cruise:


Yup, some controversy too and some of it good feedback to think through as this develops.


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posted in Blog Council, Blogging, Microsoft, Social Media, Voice of Customer, marketing, web 2.0 | 5 Comments

18th November 2007

Influencer Marketing: An Oxymoron?

I recently found myself in a roomful of Brand marketers, Agencies and Boutique consultancies discussing the growing authority of influencers.  As social media has amped and marketing eyes a mixshift of investments to new media and Word of Mouth, the importance and debate around the role of Influencers has exploded. 

Just last week, Ad Age reported on research by PQ media that Word of Mouth Marketing crossed $1B in 2006…up from $76M 5 years earlier, in route to $3.7B by 2011. 

…in 2006, according to an independent research report on the field that will be unveiled during a session at the annual Word Of Mouth Marketing Association conference in Las Vegas today. The analysis, believed to be first in-depth look at word of mouth, reports that spending on the emerging discipline has increased from $76 million in 2001 to $981 million in 2006 and is expected to grow to approximately $3.7 billion by 2011.

These influencer conversations generally fall into a couple of buckets:

  • Data and examples designed to convince you that Influencers matter
  • How to find and "activate" them in the brand conversation
  • How to measure

I find myself invited to participate in a lot of these discussions as I have pretty strong views on the topic after 5 years of building one of the largest Influencer programs (www.microsoft.com/mvp).  Probably more important than the strong views, is the practical lessons learned from operationalizing a global program designed to find, thank and engage influencers both online and offline.  Like most things, the best way to learn about something is to go and personally engage in it.  I estimate that I’ve talked to over 3000 influencers of our brands from over 50 countries during the past few years. 

So, back to the conversation at the conference…As we sat in the room having the discussion, several people used the term "Influencer Marketing."  Each time I heard it, I cringed.  Something about this phrase seemed wrong.  In the moment, I couldn’t articulate why this phrase dug so deep, but by my afternoon presentation I had to discuss this topic.  I like to keep the following core assumption in mind:  Influencers don’t do what they do in order to help you (the brand)…they do what they do to help other users.  Forgetting this core point is probably the fastest path to a failed influencer initiative.  The term "Influencer Marketing" to me feels like it is attempting to get a direct response from an influencer.  Find the right people, tell them about "A" and they will go tell everyone about "A."  In my experience, it just doesn’t work this way.  There are a few "influencers" with whom this works - but they rarely influence much or sustain over the long term - they may just be loud.  Perhaps my issue with this is that most marketing feels very one way.  If you really want to get influencers talking, it’s about a two way, trust based conversation. 

Wrong model (marketing dream):  I tell you about "A," you tell everyone you know about "A"

Right model:  I tell you about "A," you tell me about "A1, B and C."  I listen, I make some changes or I don’t make changes but I tell you why.  This creates outbound conversation - but it’s a by-product of a relationship, not a channel for push communications.

In truth there probably isn’t anything wrong with the term itself.  There are influencers and brands will invariably market to them - and that’s not evil.  What might be "evil" is thinking there is a shortcut here - forgetting that this really only works when social media is creating a conversation between a brand and the users…and remember, "listening is not just waiting for your turn to talk!"

And finally, the right model makes another strong point - that the conversation isn’t just between your influencers and the marketing department - it’s the influencers and your company - cross functions.


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posted in Business Strategy, Influencers, MVP, Microsoft, Social Media, Voice of Customer, web 2.0 | 7 Comments

13th August 2007

The World is Flat - your company isn’t. Uh oh…

In The World is Flat, Thomas Friedman explores the impact of globalization on economics, business and competitive marketplaces.  It’s a worthwhile read that has been reviewed by many bloggers - so I won’t here.  In the book, Friedman outline’s the 10 drivers of flattening and the more recent convergence of these flatteners driving even more rapid change in the industry.

This whole line of thinking has had me thinking about issues of governance, decision making and innovation velocity.  The principles of a flat world can give you strategic advantage, but "flat companies" will WIN in the flat world. 

So, what are the signs of an organization that is not flat?

  • How many people between the "front line" and the CEO (span of control and org depth)?
  • How close are executives to customer listening systems - and how accountable are they held for the results?
  • How difficult is cross functional collaboration? (test:  "us or them" speak vs "we" speak)
  • How fast (if at all) do ideas flow from the front line to the decision makers (CXOs)? 
  • How many people need to be in a room to make a decision?
  • How quickly can you respond to competitive pressures and or changes in the marketplace?

I’m sure this is not comprehensive and would love to see you add to the list.

Keep in mind, a flat organization is not a democracy - success is still dependent on strong and empowered leadership.  I think the question is how quickly and accurately leaders are provided with the inputs necessary to make decisions.  And once made, how efficiently do those decisions flow back out and turn into action at the front line.


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posted in General Community Discussion, Voice of Customer, Web 2.0 and corporate HR, online communities, web 2.0 | 4 Comments

13th July 2007

Re-Org news….Marketing Department to report into Customer Service organization

I attended a talk this morning by Andy Sernovitz, author of Word of Mouth Marketing.  Lot’s of good points from Andy, but two things in particular stood out for me - both coming from the Q&A.


Question (paraphrased):  "Andy, you made a strong case for how customer service/support functions should not be separate strategies from marketing.  The challenge is call centers are cost centers and it’s difficult to change the investment model.  Would you say that customer service should report into the marketing organization?

Answer (also paraphrased): "No, the marketing organization should report into the customer service department."

In the room of 80+ people, there were maybe 5-6 people I recognized from the support business and I’d guess the rest of the room from marketing functions.  My colleagues and I got a great chuckle from that…while watching the rest of rooms heads snap back in some amount of bewilderment - great moment- thank you Andy.  In all seriousness, changing organizational lines in very large corporations often just creates new problems, but I think the overall point is very valid.  I think the question to ask is whether 1:1 discussion and joint planning occur between your call center business and your central marketing organizations?  I know this will be an item for me to follow up on in my own world.


Question (paraphrased):  "This word of mouth stuff makes sense, but how would work in a B2B context vs B2C."

Answer (also paraphrased):  "Ahh, this is the 1st or 2nd question at every speech.  Why would it be different?  Yes, the messages might be different, but the motivation and influence issues are exactly the same as in B2C."

This question (and answer) reminded me of an issue I’ve long been passionate about.  Many B2B companies struggle accepting the validity of the evidence of the methods of B2C companies (and vice verse) as there is a fundamental assumption that the marketing rules are different.  Even in companies that are both B2B and B2C, these two marketing functions sit in different places organizationally and really don’t typically interact with one another:  co-existence vs co-learning.  Ok, some things are different; the messages and the delivery vehicles would be good examples.  But what influences buying or trust or referral behavior aren’t different, are they?  Businesses don’t buy products, people inside businesses buy products.  I work in a large corporation and I approve many large POs on a regular basis to buy good and/or services.  When you sell to me, you are not selling to a business, you are selling to a consumer who represents a business and your track-record for success (ie references or past experiences) is still the #1 deciding factor in who gets the business.

So, while there are some functional differences between B2B and B2C, I’d offer the following:  Every business is simply a collection of individual consumers.  Buying is a emotional decision in either case (you are taking a risk - perhaps a bigger risk when it’s your job).  This is especially true if you represent a business that sells to both businesses and consumers.  If you don’t think your users experience with your consumer products will impact how they talk about your business products, you are making a huge mistake.



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posted in Business Strategy, Voice of Customer, Word of Mouth | 1 Comment

17th June 2007

A worthwhile example of corporate transparency: Dell…

A former Dell employee posted an article June 14th that got a lot of play:  22 confessions of a former Dell Sales Manager.  Lots of traffic and 1500+ votes on Digg.  In the article, the author goes on to expose a lot of "tricks" on how to work the online system at .  Nothing in this post was particularly anti-Dell, but there are a number of items that it’s obvious if you were Dell you might prefer weren’t posted.

June 15th, the same author/site posted again:  Dell Demands Takedown of our "22 confessions of a former Dell Sales Manager".  This posting racked up 3500 Diggs!!  In it, the Consumerist posts the text of a communication (a few back and forth conversations) from a Dell Attorney requesting that the post be removed.

Ugh…Not a good scene.  Big companies have challenges in working through response management in the web 2.0 world - where you pretty much have to assume transparency.

June 16th, the Dell Community team (responsible for Direct2Dell) steps up with a direct response:  Dell’s 23 Confessions.

Let me say, good recovery Dell.  Yes, it would have been better for this not to happen at all, but in reality, it does. The judge of your commitment to community is in the quality of your response.  Here’s what I liked:

  • The opener:  "Now’s not the time to mince words, so let me just say it… we blew it."
  • Acknowledging other bloggers posts on the topic (Jeff Jarvis) - this says they did some homework.
  • It’s personal, I don’t know who Lionel is, but the post is an "I" post vs "we" - good tone.
  • Tied in a relevant discussion happening in Ideastorm.  More homework here and including real customers in the discussion.
  • Point to point discussion - not negating the feedback or challenging it, just presenting their point of view and links to help.


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posted in Blogging, Business Strategy, Examples, Influencers, Social Media, Voice of Customer, web 2.0 | 2 Comments

3rd June 2007

"Where for art thou" Community ROI

It seems I might be the only web 2.0 blogger who hasn’t blogged about the trouble with community ROI.  Well, time to remedy that.  I don’t know if there is any secret sauce here, but hopefully you will see some things that are either useful or you can add to the list!

Community ROI is a high anxiety topic at every community event I’ve attended…I expect it will be again at this weeks online community unconference. (By the way, I’ll be there and I’m planning to facilitate a session on influencer programs - stop in and say hello.)  Whenever the topic comes up, I’m reminded of why I named this blog Community Group Therapy…as the discussion invariable turns into "group therapy" on the difficulty of community ROI.

Community ROI Group Therapy Session notes:

Albert:  "You know, we had our whole community planned out…forums, RSS, reputation system, it was gonna be GREAT…then that damned finance guy threw me under the bus!!  What’s the ROI he said"

Therapist:  "How does that make you feel Albert?"

Albert: "I’d like to shove his ROI right up his…."

Therapist: "Hold on!  Albert, try to stay with us here.  Who else has something to say that might help Albert on his ROI troubles."


Sheila:  "My boss didn’t get it either, he couldn’t even spell ‘rss’."

Therapist:  "Ok, ok everyone.  We are approaching the end of our session.  Let’s have a hug and we’ll continue this next week."

Sheila to Jerry outside the meeting:  "Are you coming next week?  I like these sessions, but I’m just not sure what I’m getting out of it."

Enough of that…let’s get back to the task at hand…the ROI model for community.  To start, what is ROI?  Well, feel free to review  Wikipedia for a more formal definition, but simplified for a business, ROI is what measurable benefit does the business get from a particular expense (often, but not solely, viewed as increased revenue or lowered costs).  I’ve see quite a few published metrics on the value of community.  For example:

-  Cost per interaction in customer support averages $12 via the contact center versus $0.25 via self-service options. (Forrester, 2006)
- Community users visit nine times more often than non-community users (McKInsey, 2000).
- Community users have four times as many page views as non-community users (McKInsey, 2000).
- 56% percent of online community members log in once a day or more (Annenberg, 2007)
- Customers report good experiences in forums more than twice as often as they do via calls or mail. (Jupiter, 2006)

These kinds of metrics provide a good framework to think about community metrics and may be very useful if you are starting a new community, but where I work, these are interesting, not fascinating.  I live in a world where industry metrics are good theory, but rarely can they stand alone and get you the needed resources to run your community.  So, hopefully we can add to the list a range of methods for ROI pursuit.

In an earlier post, I claimed that web 2.0 has the potential to impact all 3 primary functions of a business (what it builds, how it sells/markets and how it supports), so I guess it only makes sense I use these general categories for structuring the ROI discussion.  I won’t claim to use all of these, in fact, later I will encourage you NOT to use all of these.  I also won’t claim these are easy to get and measure, it takes effort and time to get there.


  • Content cost - Do you have a knowledgebase?  What does it cost you to author content (In house? Offshore? Vendor?)  Cost per piece of content per page view is a useful baseline metric.  Made even better if you index that against satisfaction on the content (did it help the user solve their problem).  Now, compare this model to a user generated model - do you let your enthusiasts author formal help/how to content?  Do you harvest Q&A pairs from your forums as content?  I don’t think I’ve talked to a single company that has really tied their content/documentation cost to their investments in community/user generated content.
  • Content availability/coverage - What is the state of your Long Tail on content.  This is an even bigger issue than content cost - it is the opportunity cost of dissatisfied customers who don’t find answers (of course you can correlate dissatisfaction with re-purchase).  What will drive more more online success by your users…the next 10K articles you write or the next 100,000 forum, blog, wiki, podcast or other community contributions by your users?  Does online success = satisfaction?  That is certainly measurable.  The message here is that your communities are content - whatever ROI model you use today on content should apply - but don’t look at them in isolation.
  • Localization - Let’s look at this separately.  Everything that is true of the limitations of your content in English is even more true in non-english.  Here’s a link to our MSDN Wiki in Brazilian Portuguese as an example.  Again, the same calculations are possible here.  Localization cost.  Content gap costs (Satisfaction correlated to repurchase). 
  • Overall Support cost - And don’t forget, those that don’t find their answer online are much more likely to call your call center.  The irony here is no one wants this.  In general today, few users want to call for phone based help and support.  It’s the last resort - so, they don’t want to call you and those calls are the most expensive part of your support business - this business case has potential.  Measuring call avoidance turns out to be pretty hard - how to measure what doesn’t happen??  This is a long term metric - not your bread and butter.
  • Summary - virtuous cycle - it just so happens that what your users want (great online self help) costs you less and done well delivers more content/answers for users questions resulting in higher satisfaction - ok, yes, you have to go instrument this in your world, but I can’t help with that:)  If I had to pick one thing here to figure out, it would be the following:  What is your cost, per point of user satisfaction across your support contact portfolio (Phone, web, community). 

Sales & Marketing

  • Sales:  If you are driving online transactions from your web portal this should be pretty measureable.  This is not what we do, but I couldn’t leave this out of the post.
  • Affinity / Loyalty / Satisfaction:  Most companies of some size run some sort of annual broad customer satisfaction survey/research methodology.   Most surveys are trying to get at driver analysis and correlation data.  This might tell you obvious things like product quality is the #1 driver of Satisfaction, but how much does support contribute?  What about content?  other indicators.  Most of us do this stuff.  The relevant issue here is whether you embedded community participation questions into your satisfaction measurement process.  Can you correlate any of the following to your users who participate in community verses those that do not?  (If you don’t have the "verses" part, you have nothing!!).  So do your users who participate in community have…
    • Higher overall satisfaction with your company? or particular product/service.
    • Higher likelihood to recommend?
    • Higher likelihood to repurchase? or purchase companion/related products/services.
    • Higher satisfaction with support?
    • Higher perception of Image or Brand?
    • hint:  I didn’t just invent this list as random examples :)
  • Image/Brand:  If you are big brand company, you likely spend big bucks researching, building and protecting that brand.  (another hint here…anything you currently spend big bucks on is good territory for ROI…if you spend nothing on it today, your resource ask is incremental!!  It may still be good, but accept the fact that it is incremental cost!!).  There are a wealth of companies out there now offering services for online community sentiment analysis (BuzzMetrics, Clarabridge & Visible Technologies to name a few).  I’m a big fan of this as a method for improving brand/product/service research.

Product / Program Development

This is an area I have blogged about already, so for sake of shortening up this too long blog post, let me link and summarize.  This is about the following key measurement areas: Product, policy and program feedback.  Beta / pre-release feedback.  Market / Competitive research.  Supportability.

Here’s the link to previous post on Insights you can use.  The one I didn’t cover as much was Supportability, so let me expand on this.  Supportability comes in a couple of different forms:

  • How do the drivers of call volume differ from the drivers of posting volume in your support forums?  Trust me - they are different!  And this is valuable/measurable. 
  • What are the top issues reported by your influencers/community mavens - you need to pay particular attention to this.

The one pitfall I would point out is not to get "drunk" with the wealth of ROI model options for community.  The failure of this I think is trying to explain/pitch too many ROI benefits and the listener gets lost in your story - remember, you have the curse of knowledge.  Also remember, you are probably NOT in the community business…community is more likely a means not the end (obvious exceptions out there).  So, stop pitching community and start pitching the ROI benefits!! Online success rate!!  Satisfaction!!  Cost model improvements!  Product improvement!  This your listener will understand way better than RSS, Wiki, Forum, etc, etc, etc.

I thought I should link here to others worth reading, but a short inspection told me there were too many to list…so, feel free to scroll my blog roll and check others opinions if you’d like.  Or, I tagged some in delicious here.


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Popularity: 30% [?]

posted in Business Strategy, Examples, Voice of Customer, Why Community Matters, web 2.0 | 13 Comments

29th May 2007

Visualization of Tag Drafting…

Awhile back I introduced the notion of Tag Drafting as a way to think about adding efficiency to online information consumption…via topic drafting and/or author drafting.  I’m still very sold on this model in terms of how you might apply it to drive high quality content filtration to online conversations - in fact, I’m drafting every day on the topics that interest me most.

Lots to discuss here in the future about rating, reputation, voting, and social Bookmarking tools - various combinations of which offer community managers a number of new ways to improve communities both for the most active participants and equally importantly the drive-by participants or "silent searchers."

Sue Waters at Mobile Technologies in TAFE took the topic a little further in a good explanation at this link of RSS Drafting.  She was kind of enough to send me a link to extisp.icio.us.  

For those inclined to like the idea of tag drafting, this cool little tool gives you a navigable visualization diagram of a tagger’s tags in delicious.  Have a look at my visualization:  http://kevan.org/extispicious.cgi?name=seanodmvp.  Obviously I have a few topics I predominately tag about :)  But you get the idea.

It’s my belief that people who share one interest often share other and related interests as well.  I still think it is too hard to make all of this super efficient as part of my normal daily workflow, but I see a lot of great innovation leading in the right direction.  Assuming I know the delicious name, I can quickly grab the visualization, click on a tag and click on an RSS feed to everything that person tags on the topic…Love it!

More to do of course… For example, it would be really powerful if I could create custom groups of people, visualize their tags, and subscribe to a group RSS feed on the topic - a multi-author, single topic RSS feed - sounds like a combination Reputation + Bookmarking + syndication service).  If someone knows an easy way to do this, let me know:)

Late addition:  Sue also has a great Wiki article on maximizing your use of Delicious.


Popularity: 26% [?]

posted in Business Strategy, Social Media, Voice of Customer, online communities, web 2.0 | 2 Comments

3rd May 2007

Blu-ray / HD DVD antipiracy code…

In my earlier series starting with convincing the unconverted on community, I wrote in part 4 about the "assumptive close".  In it, I said the following:

Users are going to talk about your products, policies, licensing, people, everything! You really don’t get to decide this. The only decision you get to make is whether or not to participate in that conversation. You must also accept the fact that you CANNOT control the conversation. In fact, the harder you try the more impossible it is.

I guess we’ve seen a reminder about the inverse relationship between how hard you try to control the community and your ability to control it…oh how I hope I never have to learn this lesson so personally.

Obviously the trade industry lawyers for AACS hadn’t read the advice and regrettably the folks at Digg got caught between a no win and apparent litigation.  An interesting story to think through…here’s my favorite quote from the article:

An online uproar came in response to a series of cease-and-desist letters from lawyers for a group of companies that use the copy protection system, demanding that the code be removed from several Web sites.

Rather than wiping out the code …the legal notices sparked its proliferation on Web sites, in chat rooms, inside cleverly doctored digital photographs and on user-submitted news sites like Digg.com.

“It’s a perfect example of how a lawyer’s involvement can turn a little story into a huge story,” said Fred von Lohmann, a staff lawyer at the Electronic Frontier Foundation, a digital rights group. “Now that they started sending threatening letters, the Internet has turned the number into the latest celebrity. It is now guaranteed eternal fame.”


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posted in Business Strategy, Examples, Social Media, Voice of Customer, web 2.0 | 3 Comments

17th April 2007

Online "Brand Management:" Good? Bad? Or it depends?

Really curious what others think about this…and I guess even more curious if anyone would share their experiences using it!!

If you are "Tag Drafting" me, you already found this article in The Seattle Times from about a week ago.  It talks about a local company, Visible Technologies as a company to watch.  I’ve quoted a big chunk of the article by Brier Dudley here as I think it’s a good intro…

"Visible is monitoring every place that people can submit comments online and copying the conversations into a massive database.

Discussions are mapped, influential people are identified and Visible’s software then helps clients engage in the conversations or directly contact the influencers.

…Its other major product is a search-optimization tool that companies and several local billionaires use to influence how they appear in search engines’ top results.

…If a blogger badmouths the Hummer, for instance, the system could notify GM. Within the console, a PR person can draft a response, inserting key points, then get approval to post or e-mail the nettlesome blogger.

Clients pick an "author" or opt for anonymity. Visible also has a virtual army — thousands of personas registered with online forums.

Graziano said the idea is to make it easier for companies to respond and participate, but it’s up to clients to decide how the tools are used.

"This is a communication tool," he said. "It’s not a pull-the-wool-over-anybody’s-eyes tool."

It makes you think twice about the authenticity of conversations in the Web community. It’s also a reminder that you have to think critically about all media, new and old, online and off.

The technology can also backfire, if the users go too far and come across as inauthentic participants online, said Forrester Research analyst Peter Kim.

"In the end," he said, "the authentic voices win out: the human voices."

In an earlier post, I asked if "?"  In that post I questioned what affiliations (and therefore risks) your brand takes based on what comes up with it when users search for you.  And what you might do about these risks.  Then today, from the Visible Technologies web site I quote:

With more than 90 percent of consumers now relying on Google, Yahoo!, MSN Live, and AOL for information, what people see when results are returned for your brand and employees can have a major impact on your reputation and business.

Let’s think a little about the services Visible is offering (TruView and TruCast) and let’s assume they work brilliantly (this is an assumption, I have no idea:  I guess if they use their own products, they could make a point by demonstrating that they found my little post about them here.)

  • TruView:  Reputation management service for organizations, brands, companies and/or people designed to "ensure that fair and accurate information is correctly ranked among the top 20 results on each site when people search for your company, products and services, or executive management team."

hmmm.  Well, I can’t help but think that "fair and accurate" is often NOT aligned with what an org, brand, company or people want discovered first.  Who decides what is "fair and accurate?" - the users or the company?  And what steps does the service take to deliver on this product promise?  Dangerous but interesting ground.  I could sure see politicians and celebrities using a service like this and potentially with fair intent.  I could also see this used to the extreme in ways that really damage the utility of independent user communities - critical voices marginalized.

  • TruCast: Online Conversation Marketing solution.  Harvests all the user generated conversations about "you."  Identifies and categorizes the conversations, identifies Influencers and directs/orchestrates your participation/response process.

To be sure, I don’t think there is any real shortcut to engaging in "your" communities.  However, I would be really interested to see how this worked.  The concept here I think fits very well with insight capture discussed in an earlier post.  And of course I am a huge proponent of influencer detection and engagement as a cornerstone of community strategy development.  I’m not sure I like the examples used to describe this service as they feel very marketing centric and I fear that if your community engagement is about marketing response to online conversations about "you" then you are in trouble.  Those responses generally only benefit YOU and not your users, so the balance is not right - and therefore your community strategy is defensive or controlling vs truly participative.  But, this comes down to how you use the tool, not the tool itself.

I guess in debating if this is good, bad or it depends, I almost see this like a weapons manufacturer.  The weapons themselves are neither good nor bad - it depends on who ultimately is using them and for what purposes.  I really hope to learn more about this to share later.

A few other companies with related products or services:  Buzz Metrics, Neboweb, Digital Vigilance, icrossing.


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