Monthly Archives: March 2012

Social media for damage control: prerequisite

Social media is the latest platform of choice for damage control. Partly because lately it is the best place to trigger the damage. News agencies end up picking an issue well after it had trended significantly in social media. There are two prerequisite when looking at social media for damage control: presence and listening.

As a company (or an individual) you need to have a vibrant social media presence. You need to be part of your social world. You cannot decide to come one day after the damage is done and try to do damage control using social media. It is very important to understand that you cannot control your brand on social media. Social media has not only leveled the playing field but has also provided a gigantic opportunity to anyone and everyone be creative and make themselves heard. All you can do is be present there and address issue as soon as possible, possibly before it becomes a big cause of concern.

This brings us to the second prerequisite. Listening is the most important thing when it comes to damage control. You cannot act till you are aware of what is happening. With all the buzz on social media and the growing volume in there, the biggest issue is for you to identify the  real epicenter of the damage, the reason behind the damage and then strategize how to address it promptly.

Technology can help in deciphering the noise and listening what you need to focus on. People won’t talk to you all the time. If they hate you (or for that matter if they love you), they will tell their friends and followers about it. It is not possible for you to humanly keep track of everything. You need to understand what is the overall vibe, what are the actionable steps that can be taken and what are the changes that can be made to do the damage control.

Social media can be your best friend or your biggest enemy when it comes to damage control. The deciding factor becomes how well are you prepared to be a part of it. If you have the right technology and strategy to listen and understand the issues and address them, you can leverage social media to defuse a fire before it becomes wild.

Market Overcrowding

When a playing field is young and growing, there are always many players trying to play in it. Every industry at the beginning attracts lots of companies. That is something that makes the industry interesting. You got to stay on your toes to keep innovating and be in the race. At the same time, that pollutes the industry a lot. It becomes very difficult for a company to differentiate from the others in this industry and for a customer to identify who is going to be around in the long run.

I believe three things determine if a company will be able to sustain and be successful in a new technology space. First is persistence. Persistence is the most important factor in determining how long can you stay in that industry. Do you have the horsepower and team that will stick together and keep out innovating competition? Second is differentiation. Differentiation is important because if you are one out of a dozen, then you are a commodity. Are you adding any real value to your customers out there? Then there is customer captivity. How easy is it for your customers to replace you with something else? Or in other words, will your customers miss you if you are no longer around tomorrow?

Products like Excel, PowerPoint and Word have been around in the market for decades because they have a captive customer base. They have a cycle of innovation where they keep bringing new features which help them differentiate from their competition. And to look back at the humble beginnings in late 1980s, they managed to be persistent in front of competition from a dozen or so other companies trying to develop products in the same space.

Persistence, differentiation and customer captivity are the three most important thing that can help a business make or break in any technology industry. If a company is able to persist, differentiate and innovate to keep meeting customer’s need, it will be able to standout in the short run and preempt new competitors in the long run.