Monthly Archives: August 2011

Social Media Tracking: Real-time vs. Richness

Real-time information sharing has become a part of our lives today. With the advent and spread of social media, real-time communication and information sharing has reached a new level. Social networks have wired us to share our opinions, thoughts and experiences instantaneously. We have the power to get the information in real-time as it happens and to express our thoughts in real-time as and when we want.

The ease of information sharing has led to a large amount of data in the social world. This availability of data gives us a great opportunity to extract rich information out of it and put it to use. With cutting-edge technology and modern techniques we can slice-and-dice this data to make sense out of it. We can spot the patterns, adopt the best practices and avoid the mistakes we made the last time around.

Social media tracking plays a pivotal role in making sense of all that is happening in the social media 24/7. Consumer goods companies want to know what people are talking about their brands, media firms want to know how people are engaging with their movies, shows and characters, healthcare companies want to know how people are responding to the new drug they just put out on the shelves and governments wants to know what their citizens are expecting from them. This brings us to the real question we look into every time we talk to a client about social media tracking: can you take a breather while we make it rich or do you want it real-time?

A lot of it depends in what business you are in. If you are in business of customer service or public relations management, real-time is what you want. You want to make sure that if a customer is asking how to fix something, you get back to her as soon as possible. If there’s a customer complain about your product or service, you got to address it before it becomes a PR disaster. Of course you should periodically go through all the complaints and service requests and get an in-depth analysis to see the pattern that emerges so that you can address the core issues to avoid repetition of the same things over and over again.

In most other cases, what you want is a tracking report where the buzz is  accompanied with rich analysis to make sense of it. Social media brings with itself a tide of data overflow. We see it as a rich source of information that is extracted by mining this data using great software and techniques. It’s cool to see streams and streams of posts coming in while your show is airing on television or when you launch a new campaign or while you give the state of your union. But its just data. What is really awesome is the insights you can extract out of it. How do you go about doing it? Well wait for a little while, let the software and experts work on this data to convert it into information and then get insight into what it is all about, understand what’s working and what’s not, get the key takeaways and make things happen.

Note: Reach out to us at MavenMagnet to learn about some of the innovative work we are doing in this space!

Social Media and Lodging a Complaint

One of the best examples of how social media can turn a small incident into a monstrous thing is United Breaks Guitars by Dave Carroll. Just to set the premise, Dave Carroll, a musician, was flying from Halifax, Canada to Omaha, Nebraska via Chicago on United Airlines flights. He checked in his guitar and when he got down at Omaha he found his guitar was broken. He approached United Airlines to pay for fixing the guitar. United was pretty indifferent to his requests with many excuses to not fix it. Being a musician he did what he does best, i.e. wrote a song titled United Breaks Guitars and posted it on YouTube. Within first 4 days, the video got 1.5 million views on YouTube. On Day 5 it was covered by every major news channel  causing a long lasting damage to United’s brand image. It is also worthy to note that United stock plunged 10% during this week (I am not claiming the reason for stock value plunge being this, but many analysts have drawn relationship between the PR disaster and stock price).

What was United Breaks Guitars? It was basically a creative person lodging a complaint about a bad experience with the service. But what areas has it affected? Everything ranging from public relations and corporate communications to branding and customer service. This is all courtesy of social media.

The amplification of the impact of United Breaks Guitars was instantaneous and widespread because of the creative and talented complainer Dave Carroll. But social media has the power to take any normal complaint or customer outburst and turn it into wildfire, sometimes slowly and other times rapidly. The reason being the complaint here is not lodged privately to the company. It is public, where a customer’s network of friends and family, other customers who have had similar experiences and general people can join in the conversation, add their own 2 cents as well as keep the incident in mind while making their next buying decision.

What is important for companies is to prioritize the complaints and  make sure every customer complaint on social media is addressed proactively. The volume on social media is immense. With intelligent data mining techniques, companies can learn about the priority of customer conversation and make sure that the most pressing issues are addressed immediately and eventually they reach to every issue before it becomes another case study like United Breaks Guitars.