Tag Archives: forums

Social Media is a Croc

There’s an awful lot of chit chat on social media networks about Apple’s latest product – the iPad. This is yet another successful product launch and continued revolution that Apple is leading in bringing new technology appliances to the consumer marketplace. It’s absolutely stunning that Apple doesn’t spend a cent on social media yet has garnered an enormous amount of publicity (admittedly good and bad) from people who just can’t help talking about Apple products on the social web. Maybe that’s one of the reasons why Apple doesn’t spend any money advertising on social networks – all of the publicity through Word-of-Mouth from those who desire, own and love to talk about Apple’s products is FREE anyway.

By the way, anyone who purchased Apple shares a few years ago would have made enough money to fund their iApple desires for the next decade…

– Ted Morris, 4ScreensCRM

Becoming Customer-Centric: The Social Enterprise

“Time discovers truth”, said the Roman philosopher Seneca 2000 years ago.

With this in mind, it’s been some time since I taught the course “Becoming Customer-Centric” at IBM‘s Advanced Business Institute in Palisades, NY. This was when the Internet was an enabler of e-business and  CRM was in its early days. Social networks did not exist.

So I recently thought of the “Social Enterprise”. Back in Y2K,  CRM was seen as the panacea for companies with a vision to become customer-centric. This is to say, enterprises lead with technology to drive CRM implementation. Other companies adopted the “Outside-In” view, with the customer as focal point, as their approach to delivering optimal business value across every customer touchpoint.

Things are much different now and for the better. Here’s why:

1. The Portable Brand: The web and the world of the customer has given rise to the Open Brand – On-demand, Personal, Engagement and Networking. This does not mean loss of brand control, but instead, new opportunity to deliver flawless customer experiences, across all touchpoints, according to the brand promise. Mobile applications now afford customers to interact with their favourite brands as they are on the move around the physical and virtual worlds, hence the “Portable Brand”.

2. Customer Outsourcing: New opportunties abound, especially in customer service at pennies per transaction. This is especially true for mobile apps at under $0.10 per contact but also of web-based transactions where customers provide instant feedback on the experience. Customers are saying “come into my process” as they exert their new found powers to influence the relationship agenda.

3. The Web as Data Warehouse: The Internet is a vast but unorganized data warehouse of customer experience stories waiting to be mined –  it’s like harvesting bottled water from a huge stream virtually for free; a new era of customer behavioural analytics will re-define the traditional purchase funnel;

4. “Outside-In” rediscovered: Companies can extend their boundaries deep into the customer’s world in a most personal way to the point where the company/customer boundary disappears. This effectively renders the product-led “Inside-out” approach to process design and technology selection obsolete especially for brands that evoke high emotional involvement on the part of the customer;

5.Sense & Respond” is redefined: The Social Web transcends geography therefore providing global brands with a unique opportunity to leverage their footprint in all markets, in real time, always on. Companies are taking on new ways of listening to customers via online monitoring of consumer-generated content, running viral advertising campaigns and engaging cusumers in on-line forums and communities.

Upon further reflection, those days at the Palisades might as well been in Seneca’s time.

– Ted Morris, 4ScreensCRM

Online Brand Mentions: Choose the Best Places for B2C2C Engagement


I  was recently intrigued by a blog post from a notable social media monitoring company. The post was about the rationale for brand engagement and the issues related to responding to online brand mentions. As I understood it, one of the main assumptions was that consumers only wish to speak to other consumers online about their respective brand experiences.

I agree that monitoring online brand discussion is important, I’m not sure that consumers only care to discuss their brand expriences with other  like-minded consumers. Let’s remember that there is a variety of places that consumers congregate such as corporate sites like www.fordforums.com, enthusiast sites like www.truckforums.com or forums where the common ground is issue-based such as  www.cholesterolnetwork.com .

Forums in particular are consumer communities that are formed on an ‘opt in’ basis by people who share a particular interest in an issue (re. high cholesterol), how to manage a process such as product usage or looking for a product such as shopping for a new vehicle. Forums are typically moderated by an individual who acts as gatekeeper to the conversation in order to ensure flow, continuity and balanced participation from the forum members. You usually have to register to become a member of a forum, so as to ensure legitimacy and authentication of participants and to keep out undesirables such as those who like to engage in ‘brand bashing’.

Which takes us back to some of the rules of engagement: Forum participants, whether they are brand loyalists, detractors, lapsed customers or dissatisfied consumers, do welcome participation by outside agents. This is especially true when consumers are trying to resolve a complaint or source product. I remember one forum in which an automotive brand was being discussed and there was an interest in a specific exterior finish. My client, once having been permitted to participate in the forum, clarified which colors were indeed available. Forum members subsequently commented on how nice it was for a manufacturer to take the time to participate and inform – a nice change from the usual ‘corporate speak’ communications.

There are many opportunities on the Internet for brands and consumers to have discussions and to co-exist. Though a brand mention is an indication of awareness, it’s not a request for response. On the other hand, where there are clear stated interests in products and the problems they might solve, the door is wide open for a healthy B2C2C conversation.

– Ted Morris