Three tips for keeping up with the web

Companies are failing to keep up with the pace of change on the internet and need to follow three steps to keep up, according to Jeremiah Owyang, a partner at the Altimeter Group who spoke at Le Web conference in Paris today.

He said the real time web is no longer quick enough, and that the next stage would involve web users talking about what they plan to do in the future. He said, “Most companies can’t keep up with the slow web, let alone the future web.” He said there are several examples of companies whose adverts or marketing had been negatively discussed on Twitter and YouTube, such as Motrin, an American painkiller brand. Despite the company responding within 24 hours when mothers tweeted their adverts were “patronising”, the response wasn’t quick enough – the story escalated from a Friday and was on mainstream news by Monday.
He told companies to:

1. Provide “social personalisation”. Companies first need to listen to people on the social web, using Google alerts, Technorati to monitor blogs, and Twitter search. There is also social monitoring software available, and advised searching for topics around your product – for example searching “headache” and “back pain” if you’re Motrin.
The second part of the process is to build up “social personalisation”. This involves using the information you’ve found on customers via the social web and matching it with the data already held on them. Companies can look at a customer’s website or Facebook profile and recommend a new car for them, for example. “These systems aren’t very mature at the moment,” Owyang said, “but this is going to extend into the real world.”

2. Recruit an unpaid army that will monitor the web for you. “You can’t be in all places at all times on the web, so work with your customers to build that army.” People are not being paid, but they’re being promoted and their reputation is boosted. They get recognition rather than payment, and Owyang suggested allowing them access to special information and events. It’s also important to listen to their feedback and make changes based on it.

3. Invest in the management systems needed for this, which Owyang called social CRM. The systems are again in their infancy because most of them have not yet connected up with the data available on social networking profiles. Using the data from these profiles can help companies to respond quicker and provides a company with a “real time” database on what consumers are saying.

 

 

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Rebecca, the suggestion for recruitment of an unpaid army reminded me a lot of the principles that surround beta-testing. Incentivisation needs to balance objectivity; it also throws up the requirement to then monitor the activities, advice, opinions of those you are encouraging to act on your behalf. Spotting trends and ‘signals in the noise’ is important as is the aggregation of atomic events into categories. I think this helps manage the scalability problem of listening to very large crowds with diverse sentiments. You need to deal with themes, not necessarily singular complaints.
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