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Consumers are Talking… Are You Listening?

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“Social Media:” It means different things to different people. Many say it’s “Facebook and Twitter”. Wikipedia says it’s “user generated content”. I define it as “user generated content and interaction”. It’s all the tools consumers use to tell people stuff – Facebook, customer reviews, blogs, Twitter and more. And it’s the act of talking, informing and conversing using these tools. One thing’s for sure… consumers do use them and they definitely talk a lot:

  • Over 800 million tweets a day
  • More than 40 million status updates each day on Facebook
  • Over 200,000,000 blogs in existence, with 34% containing opinions about products or brands

So what are marketers doing with all this chatter?

For one thing… they’re getting indigestion. A study we just completed with the etailing group – 2009 Community and Social Media Study – found the top three concerns marketers have with Social Media conversations today are:

  • “People can trash my products in front of a large audience”
  • “I am using outdated marketing/merchandising techniques”
  • “Customers might leave my site to find a more socially-engaging site”

This may be the most disruptive technology-enabled consumer trend to hit marketers since the invention of the Internet itself. So what should marketers do with all these conversations?

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My answer is…  Listen to them. Respond to them. And amplify them.

On the “listening” side, there is fast rising demand for a set of tools Forrester Research calls “listening platforms” –  tools that deliver a variety of metrics about these conversations, including conversation volume, sentiment analysis and customer segmentation .  Some of the leading listening tools in this space include Nielsen’s BuzzMetrics, TNS Cymfony  and Radian6 – the first two are full-service listening and analytics tools, the third is more of a point solution aimed at PR professionals.

PowerReviews, a social commerce solution provider – just announced a new type of listening tool based on social conversations that are structured – designed to allow retailers to compare and contrast products based on consumer-generated attributes. This tool, called BrandConnect, utilizes PowerReviews’ tag-based review capabilities and four years of customer reviews data to equip Product Managers, Marketing Managers and Merchandising Managers with the ability to assess how their products stack up against their competitors’ products. Armed with this information, Product Managers can make adjustments to their product features or Marketing Managers can make changes to their positioning or marketing copy–or both. BrandConnect is designed to provide the same head-to-head product insights by consumer lifestyle segment, to help guide product merchandising.

Whichever tool you use, I highly recommend you find a way to track the growing number of social conversations about your products and your brand so that you can take decisive action on fast-rising issues and opportunities.


Darby Williams is the VP of Marketing at PowerReviews, a provider of social commerce solutions to retailers and brands to help convert more shoppers and attract new shoppers through consumer generated content and interaction. Prior to PowerReviews, Darby served as VP of Marketing for Active Decisions, the leader in online guided selling software and services for retailers, providing enhanced merchandising capabilities through an online personal shopping assistance that increased online conversion, cross-sell and up-sell.

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