Alterian release SM2 5.0

Today marked the release of SM2 5.0 by Alterian. Ever the pioneers in social media listening technology, 5.0 takes SM2 to a new level.

My early impressions are that Alterian have sought to introduce a greater focus on the practical side of managing the listening function within your business. By focusing on assignment, prioritisation and response, brands now have little excuse to begin the engagement process. I think 5.0 is a major step towards the normalisation of this functionality within businesses today.

Of course the danger here is that the process becomes SO normal, that some try to automate the whole thing. I heard on a radio show the other day that Kodak have a Chief Listening Officer. This is all good, but again it has to be stressed that the lesson in all of this is that customers are now demanding a response from businesses on a human level. A very real and genuine response to their comments, complaints or compliments.

5.0 certainly appears to be a step towards the day when technology gets out of the way and information is served to those who carry the responsibility to make sure their brands are truly customer centric.

Are you ready to start listening and engaging right now?

Radian6 Sold for $340m

This may have passed you by last week, but a bomb fell in the world of social media monitoring., the business services company snapped up Radian6, a leader in the world of SMM tools, for a mere $340m.

The deal is reportedly structured as a combination of cash and stock, with $4m earmarked for the owners of the Canadian based company.

In 2009, Alterian purchased SM2 from Techrigy for a reported $5m. Sm2 itself was only created in 2006 and this illustrates to me just how fast things are moving in this world.

Now I’ve researched SMM tools at length over the last year and whilst here are differences between the leader players, essentially the technologies and reporting systems are pretty similar – just that one was worth $5m in 2009 and just two years later, another is worth around $335m more.

So why has this happened? Whay did Alterian get such a bargain and could they now be tempted to look for a buyer of SM2 and pocket a huge profit?

The sheer power that these tools offer to brands in intelligently listening to just what its customers and prospects are saying about them, their products and competitors is awe inspiring and have obviously woken up to this – I’m sure they knew already…

I’ve been talking to many UK businesses about SMM technologies and the power that they have. Most people are taken aback that these tools could possibly exist in the first place, I have to prove their very existence in some cases, but when that doubt is overcome and people have seen real examples of their uses, a light bulb lights up above their heads.

Are you using these listening tools? Do you want to?

Let’s talk…

The Opposite Of Love

Ask yourself that question – just what is the opposite of love?

Clearly all the cliches will dictate the answer is ‘hate’ – and that it’s a thin line! However, this post will seek to point out that, in the context of business and customer relationships, the opposite of love is indifference.

If a customer complains to you directly, you’ve already probably talked to your customer care team, to treat this as an opportunity to over deliver in making things right and delighting them with the resolution.

Of course this is absolutely right. But what if a customer becomes disillusioned with you, but doesn’t take the step of complaining?

Well I would suggest that this is worst scenario of all. If you’re measuring your customer loyalty rates and need to grow your level of retention (and who doesn’t?), then other than reach out to them with emails, catalogues or advertising, how can you address this silent majority of people who don’t communicate with you directly anymore?

First of all, consider the results from the Alterian (Your Brand at Risk? Or Ready for Growth? 2010) suggests the following

  • 84% of people trust recommendations from their friends
  • 70% of people trust recommendations from complete strangers!
  • But just 5% of people trust advertising

So if you’re tempted to increase your promotional spend to reach out to this group and consider that if just 5% of people will believe what you say, but  70% of people trust what a complete stranger says, then the power of word of mouth very soon, becomes apparent.

But if they’re not complaining to you directly, how do you find these customers?

Firstly, you have to listen. I’ve written extensively about the various SMM (social media monitoring) tools that are available to dial in to conversations about your brand or your products. But the skill in maximising on the opportunities that these tools offer, lies in learning where the communities of lapsed customers are hanging out.

If you can build positive sentiment amongst your key influencers – SMM tools can help you identify them and their communities – then you are in a really strong position to win back these lapsed customers. It’s almost a case of redefining testimonials.

How are you looking to engage with your lapsed, indifferent customers?

Verizon – Are You Listening?

I’m not letting up on this issue.

For me examples like this are the very reason this blog exists.

Here’s someone, clearly having trouble with Verizon. There’s no judgement here as to whether their complaints are justified or not. But that doesn’t matter. @KatStep2010 clearly does have issues.

So, as she says, are Verizon listening? If so, will they engage?

I’m going to be following this closely and will report back if anything happens in public.

Since starting this, here’s an update already!

I can’t get thru to anyone they keep sending me bills for an account I canceled in June. @Verizon is there anybody out there?
14 minutes ago
@Verizon Why have I been on hold for 45 minutes? and why oh why won’t you help me?
30 minutes ago
So it seems Verizon aren’t listening.
Another great truth:

“Customers wouldn’t feel the need to embarrass us en masse, if our customer service channels weren’t so completely broken.” Bob Knorpp, The Beancast

Ryder Cup Washout – A Social Disaster and Victory All At Once !

My alarm woke me early this morning. Stupidly early. I was up at 1.45 – why go to bed? The reason was to watch Lee Westwood tee it up at Celtic Manor to try and wrest the Ryder Cup back from the pesky Yanks!

Living in the US gives you a different perspective of these events. Being behind enemy lines makes the event even bigger. Although if things go wrong, (thanks for nothing Robert Green), then it can be twice as painful.

At the time of writing, play has just resumed and the Cup is not likely to be won or lost until Monday!

But the big news of the day, is the rain in Wales. Not just the rain, but the failure of the rainwear chosen by Corey Pavin and the USGA, to keep  the US players dry. Once the news was out that Tiger was soaked to the skin and Phil was dripping wet through, attention turned to the manufacturer of this equipment.

The fact that it was produced by a company called ‘Sun Mountain’, should perhaps have given Pavin a clue that these guys weren’t experts in wet weather clothing! The fact that the team then had to purchase new equipment in Wales, that wouldn’t have been designed beforehand, from a company called Proquip, meant that these two brands were suddenly all over the social web having quite different days!

Here it is happening before our eyes! Everything I’ve written about here before now is coming to pass!

Sun Mountain are suffering the worst possible PR disaster, whilst Proquip are basking in glory. And it’s being played out on social media.

Here are a couple of tweets:

“Probably the end of that company. Certainly the USPGA will never use any of their products again. #sunmountain

“Let’s get some Proquip”

And it spreads wider – Goretex are forced to make a statement that they ended their relationship with Sun Mountain in 2006! Right now Sun Mountain are toxic!

Google news results for Sun Mountain right now and you can see what’s happening. As I’ve said before, “you are what Google says you are” and “you can’t take piss out of a swimming pool”!

If Sun Mountain employ social media listening tools, they will hopefully be on this, working throughout the night and the rest of the weekend to try and address things positively – quite how they do this, I can’t think right now!

Proquip on the other hand may also be listening in and their positive sentiment report will bulging at the the seams! Lots’ of ‘thanks guys’ and if you’re a retailer carrying the Proquip range, ‘here’s a voucher for online store with 10% off Proquip merchandise if you buy before….”, you get the idea!

Anyway, the players are back out – come on Europe!