Category Archives: Social Media

Market Research

Marketing has long been driven by historic data, with a lot of survey research and polling.

But the volume and kind of data that we are beginning to acquire is vastly increasing, producing information overload for business managers; already stretched by the pace of market change.

This requires more relevant and improved analysis of shared real time business processes, that stretch beyond the four walls of the enterprise.

Computer technology must be able to address business process dynamics, because that’s how work is done in the real world.

The kinds of questions we need to ask are much more sophisticated and require a shift in thinking “how will business manage organic business processes into the future”?

What are Organic Business Processes?

Organic business processes are business processes that begin, grow and contract dynamically and continuously to uncertain market demand.

Computer technology looks to apply certainty to what is an increasingly uncertain world.

This is because computer software applications are designed for predetermined outcomes that comprise of fixed roles, fixed rules, fixed relationships and fixed workflows.

But We Got It From A Poll

Sociologists and market research companies have been studying social networks for decades.

Providing they can cleanse the data and ensure its relevancy, they can tell you what happened, how it happened; but never why it happens in that particular way.

Why were the first motor cars six seaters?

Why do the British and Australians drive on the left side of the road?

No amount of mechanical analysis will give you answers to these questions; because the answers come from outside of the system, never from within it.

to conserve space, I’ll leave you to Google the above; you’ll probably be surprised by the answers.

The Internet Gospel

Sociologists and market research companies would have us believe that because we now (with the advent of Internet) have a lot more data than was previously available to us; we should be able to get better and more informed results.

Unless you can understand the dynamics of the system and its processes you will never get the results these researchers are now claiming.

To achieve the results they are describing you would have to know and understand the cascading dynamic interactions, cycles, feedbacks and behavior patterns within the system you are trying to analyze.

An example of this dynamic is word of network (Internet) influence.

Influence propagates through a network in same way an infectious disease does – going viral.

The viral phenomenon of Susan Boyle is an example of viral media: the YouTube videos were forwarded millions of times around the world, the web became the primary medium of information diffusion.

In hours, family and friends referred the videos to family and friends until the videos had crossed continents and culture barriers.

Mass media that pick up on this diffusion early then report on it, which aids in the dissemination, but is no longer solely responsible for it.

For A Bit of a Laugh

For those that haven’t seen it, here’s a video that went viral … worth a look, and why not practice the act of new world market research and pass it on … “Cheap flights

Has Facebook changed your business?

The majority of business initiatives in social media networks fail to reach their objectives.

We all know it’s important, but not too many of us understand how value is created, supplied, transformed and consumed within social networks. Because in the main, these networks comprise dynamic processes that cascade through social networks @ NetSpeed rates.

Social media is rapidly redefining the way consumers research and buy products and services online. It is vital that companies connect with consumers where they’re at; and that is social networks.

Of the billions of minutes consumers spend on the internet, it is estimated that 22% of their time is spent on social media sites. To effectively engage consumers, retailers need to reach beyond traditional marketing and communications methods.

Moving Beyond the Traditional Approach

To do that retailers are going to have to learn where the cultures of social media, technology, and retail products intersect.

This will involve uncovering opportunities, highlighting the pitfalls and making strategic initiatives on how stakeholders within the retail industry can collaborate, cooperate and compete in this new networked world.

The ticket to ride will be effectively engaging consumers with the retailer’s message. As well as the understanding that control of the retail experience has been wrested from the retailer by the consumer. The retailer can only hope to influence the path to self discovery for the consumer in this fast-paced, ever-evolving digital world.

The Three Streams

Areas of knowledge to be gained fall under three broad categories of social media and technology:

  • Rapidly learn, recommend, comment, decide, try – succeed / fail; select and execute
  • products, channels, brands, stores, outlets
  • multiple media platforms (online, mobile, social, video), devices, protocols

Retailers will need to study the distinctions between dynamic, in-the-moment behaviors and at-home leisure times, as well as at work social media and technology behaviors.

The questions for retailers now evolve around

  • Achieving Social network connectivity: engaging network participants vs. passive observers; product influencers, innovators vs followers
  • Attaining Brand loyalty: examine the “Facebook and Twitter” effect of social media on your distribution channels, brands and products (how likely consumers are to talk about your channel, brands and products and make recommendations, and so make purchases based on other consumers recommendations)

The velocity of information has surpassed any companies ability to control it. No longer can retailers or suppliers control their brand, the release of information – their only hope is to remain an influence!

Social Networks and Retailers

Are retailers being left behind? Can they embrace social networks? Will traditional bricks and mortar stores blend their rigid strategies to include the evolving online innovations?

Social Media

Some retailers are not sure if the consumers engaging with them via social media channels are good customers or not. Other retailers believe these consumers may be their best customers. But the lack of certainty (knowing whether cross-channel shoppers are more profitable than single-channel shoppers) inhibits retailers’ from being proactive in their social media activities.

Retailers are still waiting for “best in class” strategies to become “best practice” and “common practice”.

This is a dangerous strategy because if a retailer is still trying to figure out how consumers use the social media channels, they are likely to be left behind.

Remember the saying “there are those who make things happen, there are those who let things happen and there are those who wonder what happened”.

There are many reasons for those retailers who end up wondering what happened, if you don’t understand social media; then you won’t have a lot of faith in the return on investment (ROI) of social channel initiatives. So it’s a case of becoming an expert or seeking out an expert to help make your business a value add in the emerging market of social media.

What do retailers need to do?

Every retailer must innovate to remain relevant in the new networked economy.

All innovation is a mix of variability (trial and error) and selection (the things that work). The trick is to know what to trial, where and when to trial it.

So if you want to join the ranks of best in class social channel retailers, you should seek proof points for the efforts you take to gain greater understanding of social media networks.

Whether your business model touches directly on social media or indirectly impacts it, it’s important to document whatever examples you encounter – especially value measurements.

Right now, the retailers who can prove the most valuable examples of social media have a window of opportunity to create competitive advantages in their market place.

Setting expectations?

There are the three things that a majority of retailers believe they should be able to do through their social channels:

  • Have consumers experience their brands and recommend them to friends.
  • Educate and excite consumers about the experience their products and services create for them; by communicating in with them simple ways (using their language.
  • Help customers locate stores.

To paraphrase Winston Churchill “this strategy is not the end, not even the beginning of the end; but it is the end of the beginning” of your quest to master social media networks in the new networked economy.