Category Archives: Best Practice

Examples of best practice in Customer Listening

The Design of Everyday Things

The Design of Everyday Things

Reading “The Design of Everyday Things” by Donald A Norman (published in 1988), I came upon a passage that was worth posting, because so many application user interface designers seem to have forgotten:

“If you set out to make something difficult to use, you could probably do no better than to copy the designers of modern computer systems. Do you want to do things wrong? Here’s what to do:

  • Make things invisible. Widen the Gulf of Execution: give no hints to the operations expected. Establish a Gulf of Evaluation: Give not feedback, no visible results of the actions just taken. Exploit the tyranny of the blank screen.
  • Be arbitrary. Computers make this easy. Use nonobvius command names or actions. Use arbitrary mappings between the intended action and what must actually be done.
  • Be inconsistent: change the rules. Let something be done one way in one mode and another way in another mode. This is especially effective where it is necessary to go back and forth between the two modes.
  • Make operations unintelligble. Use idosyncratic language or abreviations. Use uninformative error messages.
  • Be impolite. Treat erroneous actions by the user as  breaches of contract. Snarl. Insult. Mumble unintelligble verbiage.
  • Make operations dangerous. Allow a single erroneous action to destroy invaluable work. Make it easy to do disastrous things. But put warnings in the manual; then, when people complain, you can ask, ‘But didn’t you read the manual?’ “

Dilbert User Interface

The section on ‘Explorable Systems’ in the same chapter provides the following advice:

“One important method of making systems easier to learn and use it to make them explorable, to encourage the user to experiment and learn the possibilities through active exploration.  There are three requirements for a system to be explorable:

In each state of the system, the user must readily see and be able to do the allowable actions. The visibility acts as a suggestion, reminding the user of possibilities and inviting the exploration of new ideas and methods.

The effect of each action must be both visible and easy to interpret. Thus property allows users to learn the effects of each action, to develop a good mental model of the system, and to learn the causal relationships between actions and outcomes. The system image plays a critical role in making such learning possible.

Actions should be without cost. When an action has an undesirable result, it must be readily reversible. This is especially important with computer systems. In the case of an irreversible action, the system should make clear what effect the complicated action will have prior to its execution; there should be enough time to cancel the plan. Or the action should be difficult to do, nonexplorable. Most actions should be cost-free explorable, discoverable.”

Dilbert Crazy Talk


Thinking about Influencer Marketing

As we are now implementing the OpenMic Influencer Identification Algorithms, we want to provide some suggestions as to what you’d do with them once you’ve found them – in the meantime, here are some notes on related articles:

Influencer Marketing Guidelines

The Word of Mouth Marketing Association (WOMMA) defines an INFLUENCER as a person who has a greater than average reach or impact through word of mouth in a relevant marketplace. And INFLUENCER MARKETING as when a marketer identifies, seeks out, and engages with influencers in support of a business objective.

WOMMA also identifies 5 broad categories of influencer (from formal to informal) – 

1) Formal Position of Authority (e.g. Political / Business leaders)
2) Subject Matter Experts (e.g. Academics, Scientists, Authors)
3) Media Elite (e.g. Journalists, Talk Show Hosts)
4) Cultural Elite (e.g. Celebrities, Designers, Musicians)
5) Socially Connected (Community members, Business Networkers)

WOMMA’s Influencer Marketing Guidelines provides a set of best practices for running influencer campaigns – here are the items that I found most valuable:

1. Understand the influencer’s point of view before engaging them in any way – much of the time, they are acting to help other users rather than your brand
2. Make participation voluntary and by invitation only – and respect their privacy at all times, allowing them to freely opt-out
3. Build a relationship with the influencer
4. Ensure that your communications with the influencer are timely – ie respond promptly
5. Never ask an influencer to hype product claims, make usage claims without experience or back claims that cannot be substantiated
6. Provide incentives that do not create conflict of interest or shilling – keep awards simple and relevant to community objectives
7. Thank influencers who participate in your programs.

The set of guidelines goes on to discuss in more detail Thanking, Engagement and Enablement, I have noted a few worthy tips to follow:

* Creating legendary stories can be very powerful ways to both generate conversation and affinity

* Moments of truth about product failures are important

* Your biggest influencers may not always be positive about your product / company / services – your biggest fans may at times be your harshest critics – the fact that they are sometimes negative may make them far more credible to their networks

* Influencer programs are long term multi-year commitments designed to build a relationship – they are not marketing campaigns

* Private access is an excellent way to engage your influencers and influencers also love to connect to one another – Consider both online and offline connection opportunities and even deeper engagements with NDAs in place

* Influencers are a great source of product feedback – your programs should be designed to close the loop demonstrating that their feedback is being heard and acted upon

Trends In Social Influence Marketing

The Razorfish Blog, Going Social Now has an post from March 2009 entitled Trends In Social Influence Marketing

Razorfish defined SOCIAL INFLUENCE MARKETING as “marketing to the network of peers that surround and influence the customer across social platforms and on brand Web sites

The post identified and detailed 10 trends – my highlights are below:

* Reaching the influencers gets easier via the social graph and the plethora of technology vendors that make targeting easier.
* Different influencers will matter at different stages of the marketing funnel, too.
* Agencies will find ways to put a valuation on each consumer’s potential influence for specific product categories.
* Google and a few others are already taking a crack at defining your influence rank.
* Consumers will define the brands by the sheer volume of their opinions. They’ll be shaping the brands more than the brands will be shaping them.
* Social advertising will grow up (whatever that means!)
* The portable social graph will fuel marketing innovation (this is Facebook and Twitter Connect)
* Loose ties (like the friendsters of yours on Facebook) are as valuable as your strong ties (close friends) because they’re the ones that bring new ideas into your world and share your opinions with people who are further removed from you
* Social influence research will become more important than social measurement – n evolution from measuring sentiment to understanding opinion and synchronizing it with the Net Promoter scores

There are a few more, go read the post – if you’re an agency, it’s probably worth the read.

Creating A Healthy Influencer Marketing Program

Finally, here is a Powerpoint deck by Emre Ersahin available on SlideShare entitled: Creating A Healthy Influencer Marketing Program

Definitely worth a look – it contains a step-by-step process, refined from a set of good and best practice examples of how to run an Influencer Marketing Program – not the only way, but certainly one proven way. It presents a methodology based on Discover > Create > Execute > Measure centered around ‘Social Capital’ that leverages the value of online networks.

Here are the basic steps:

Discover – target audience and identify and recruit influencers

Create – influencer concepts and programs

Execute – program implementation online and offline

Measure – the results and evaluation of the benefits

Brand Identity & Social Media

A couple of articles worth reading:

A Brand’s Largest Social Media Obstacle by Sami Balwani

The key phrase for me was: “Many brands know they should be in the social space but their culture prohibits them from taking risks. An aura of fear permeates every decision, and the tried and true wins out over innovation.” The post goes on to discuss how traditional organizations need a shift in their cultural paradigms to fully engage with their customers using Social Media.

Brand Identity Is More Than Image – The Case for Product Informed by Brand Truth by Liz Gebhardt

Another good article discussing strategies for Challenger brands – The brand identity model presented provides a good way to fully understand the brand promise before preparing to launch any social media programs – particularly the words on Community and Participation.

The Secrets of Marketing in a Web 2.0 World

The article in WSJ – Secrets of Marketing in a Web 2.0 World (by
SALVATORE PARISE ,  PATRICIA J. GUINAN and BRUCE D. WEINBERG) discusses how the secret to leveraging Web2.0 is participation. Even though mainstream brands are embracing blogs and forums they are not genuinely participating and they do not go far enough to ENGAGE their customers.

Consumers need a reason or incentive to participate, the article discusses how this can be done without overt sales pitches. It also discusses how to allow the dialog to flow freely – something that may be counter-intuitive to marketers raised manipulating consumer conversations.

It’s worth a read, if you are skeptical about the benefits afforded by Web2.0, it may open your eyes. I plan to post more on this topic soon.

top 10 tips for customer listening

1.    Whatever your business, your customers are voicing their opinions, find out where and harvest it from each and every place, use this to augment surveys and focus groups

2.    Make sure it’s obvious and easy for them to leave feedback in their own words, especially in each place that they deal with you (customer touchpoint), encourage them with hard and soft incentives

3.    Social Media is big and growing, get on the bandwagon (not just communities and blogs), participate and actively listen – you will need technology to maintain coverage and to monitor this dynamic environment focusing your attention on where the conversation is most relevant

4.    Capture both structured and unstructured feedback then organize it into categories that are meaningful to your business – how you want customers to perceive and ones that you can take action on

5.    The action starts as soon as you take the feedback – immediate acknowledgement, timely and intelligent responses and then deliver the insights to the right people inside your organization who can act upon them, then ensure those actions are taken

6.    Make sure the cycle time to capture, categorize, analyze and  act matches the purchase cycle for your product –  in many cases this is real time, so accuracy and precision are also key – if your feedback volume is large, then this will have to be automated – text analytics is the obvious technology

7.    The departments who take their cues from the feedback need to have a quantifiable structure to evaluate the feedback and give them the mandate to act – use BI tools to deliver those insights

8.    There are strategic actions, tactical actions and just plain listening that will improve your customer perceptions and experiences – some of these actions can be automated with the right technology in place

9.    If you are participating in Social Media, then do so genuinely and add tangible value, anything else will be noticed and punished – identify, listen to and use the influencers to carry your messages

10.    Your customer listening program can be a useful barometer as to the performance of your organization, it will allow you to quickly spot underperforming business processes and areas of market opportunity – investment in the program, the technology and your organization’s commitment can yield a positive ROI.

The New Rules of Viral Marketing

A new e-book (available free!) from author David Meerman Scott, provides some thought leadership in the new world of Social Media. If you’re a marketer and your customers are online, then you should be reading this.

You can read about and then download the book – The New Rules of Viral Marketing: How word-of-mouse spreads your ideas for free, here

I’m going to… 🙂

PS See David on You-Tube

P&G Recruits Mommy Bloggers

Ad Age reports on how Procter & Gamble Co.’s Pampers is bringing as many as 15 top “mommy bloggers” to the company’s Cincinnati headquarters later this month in what appears to be the company’s biggest effort yet to reach online influencers. Read the full story here.

Three years ago, Business Week wrote an article – The Search for Influential Bloggers – seeking tools to help uncover the A-list bloggers. Since then things have moved on a-pace.

The Future of Media vid-clip on Social Media Monitoring provides a 5-minute introduction to brand monitoring.  Two vendors are Radian6 and Buzzlogic. Another video segment at FastCompany promotes how Buzzlogic calculates influence.