The good thing about going to the dentist is that you have time to think. You can’t talk much — not with someone’s hand in your mouth. And they usually don’t know you all that well — so they don’t have much to say to you either. So you are left to your own thoughts.
In my case, that meant a return to my earlier post about the 12 Social Media Secrets, because I realized that I hadn’t talked enough about the types of tools and information that I would like to see.
I believe that the usage of social media in the next 5-10 years will explode to a level that few of us anticipate. Thus, it will be common for a company to get thousands upon thousands of inputs (tweets, emails, blog comments, etc.) about its products on a daily basis in the not too distant future. If you doubt this, consider how many text messages people around you are sending and receiving each day. Five years ago, text messaging within the US was not all that common. Now, we have legislation pending or in place that forbids texting while driving because too many people simply “must” text at every minute of their day and unlimited text messaging plans are considered commonplace. The data flood is coming, and sooner than we think. (Some would argue that it is here already…)
Therefore, we are going to need tools to process all of the inputs we receive from customers (and prospects) about our product and I, for one, want to be sure that I’m getting good information from all of the market segments that I care about. I can’t afford to be misled by a few, vocal participants or to ignore a particular market segment that might be critical to the success of my product.
First, I’d like to know as much as I can about the people behind the inputs. This includes:
- Gender (male or female)
- Age Bracket (e.g., less that 21, 21-30, 31-40, etc.)
- Marital status
- Employment status (Full-time, Part-Time, Retired, Unemployed)
- Country where they live
- Closest city
- Number of people within 10 miles of their house
Other information like race, primary language, household income, number of children, etc. would also be useful — but is more controversial and therefore much less likely to be available. The goal is to ask for information that is anonymous enough that people will feel comfortable providing it while also gathering enough information so that you can make intelligent decisions.
And besides, if I know that you live outside of Boston (like I do) and that there are only about 35,000 people within 10 miles of your house — I can guess that you live in a medium-sized town in one of the Boston suburbs. And from that I can approximate the medium income for people like you. It won’t be exact, because some Boston suburbs have much higher medium incomes that others, but it might be close enough.
However, for this information to be useful, it needs to be consistent across all of the social media tools that my customers are likely to use and kept in a single location so that users don’t have to run around updating multiple sites. A Gravatar is a good start, but it needs more information.
Second, I’d like to be able to analyze the quantity of the inputs I receive. For example:
- Number of inputs ( Tweets, emails, blog comments, etc.) received from the same user in a given period.
- Number of inputs from the same market segment (gender, age bracket, marital status, employment status, geographical area, etc) in a given period.
- Average number of inputs for each market segment during a given period.
- Market segments that didn’t provide an “average” number of inputs during a given period.
Third, I’d like to have an application that can automatically organize the inputs I receive. For example, I’d like to be able to distinguish between an input from a dissatisfied customer and one from a potential new customer. Of course, I can establish numerous different input channels — but there will always be an input that is in the wrong channel.
I’d also like the ability to aggregate all of the inputs that I receive — so that I don’t have to manually organize my Tweets and then cross-reference them with emails received from similar people in similar geographies.
Lastly, I need tools to allow me to quickly organize and manage all of the inputs that I receive. For example, that dissatisfied customer who complains each day that their cell phone is difficult to use because the screen is impossible to read in bright sunlight has a very valid point. However, I don’t want to read the same complaint over and over again for weeks on end — I won’t have the time. I need to be able to manage all of my inputs effectively and efficiently — so that I can gather the key messages very quickly and then spend the rest of my day improving existing products or creating new ones.
I see lots of opportunities for this approach within social media — but not a lot of tools that provide anything close to what I’m looking for — at least not yet.