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Paul Kiser

For a hundred years the Church of the Big Sell has preached to enterprise decision-makers that they will give a voice to their company…for a price. Media chieftains told the world of business that the customer is a commodity that can be manipulated and controlled with the right ad campaign, the right slogan, the right spokesperson, or the right look. Then came Social Media.

Social Media has put a lot of business traditionalists in a tailspin. It turns out that the customer is not a commodity and they hate it when they are treated like one (e.g.; Netflix, United Airlines, Bank of America, etc.) Customers  are people and they have feelings, wants, likes, and dislikes.

Facebook and Twitter gave the people fire and they liked it. Now the customer has a voice and they use it. They talk. They converse. They express. They judge. Not only do they have a voice, they now have the power to turn off advertising…and they do.

The Church of the Big Sell is burning and the voice they were supposed to give to business is wasted on ads in newspapers and magazines that nobody reads, radio and television commercials that nobody listens to or watches, and yellow pages books that go from the front doorstep to the recycling bin…unused. Social Media took away the microphone of enterprise because people are tired of being preached to by the Church of the Big Sell.

Business is realizing that customer interaction has changed. Enterprise in a Social Media world is not about talking, but about listening. Listening is the alpha and omega of the Social Media world. Almost everything a business needs to know is there, if they listen. A new church is being built on the ashes of the old and the religion is based on the ‘L’ word.

Listening is not as easy as it sounds (pun intended.) Social Media is noisy. Too many voices, too many issues. A restaurant owner does not need to know that Emily had a great date last night…unless Emily’s date was at his restaurant. Then he might want to know that Emily’s date was great despite her eating experience, where the food was cold, the parking a pain, and the service rude. The restaurant owner might also want to know that nine of Emily’s friends responded to her Tweet by agreeing that his restaurant sucks and they will never eat there again.

Rob Bailey - Head of US Operations and new CEO of DataSift

Tools of Listening in the New Church of Social Meda
Paring down the noise of Social Media is a major challenge for a business and the new religion has new tools. “The amount of Social Media that people are producing is doubling every year…,” explained Rob Bailey, who is the head of United States Operations for DataSift, a Social Media filtering platform for business that was launched last week. Bailey said that there are three steps in refining raw Social Media into relevant information for any enterprise.

The first step is to refine the data down to what is being posted about an organization, subject, or topic. That refinement may require multiple filters to distill out undesired spam, retweets, and other noise. The second step is to analyze the results based on factors such as age, gender, geographic location, and sentiment. The final step is to have a visual tool that reports the results simply and accurately for interpretation by the decision-maker in the company.

Nick Halstead - Past CEO and now Chief Technology Officer

DataSift had 8,000 users in the alpha test of its Social Media monitoring platform and found that the interest in this technology spanned a wide variety of industries. CEO Nick Halstead said that they had, “… government agencies to pharmaceuticals, a lot in finance, a lot in retail…and quite a few start-ups…” interested in DataSift’s technology to monitor issues of concern to their business and organizational operations. Another industry that wants to be able the monitor the Social Media are News Outlets that are trying to compete with Twitter and Facebook in providing events in real-time. Bailey said, “Twitter is an incredible vehicle…” for finding out what is going on in the world.

Public Relations and Social Media firms are also using tools to filter out the Social Media noise for companies who would rather hire an outside service for their Social Media presence rather than doing it in-house. In addition to listening to the Social Media these agencies help a business identify and correct their public image by handling public image issues and concerns for the organization.

View of data stream screen

The tools of the new platform allow the user to search multiple Social Media formats and have access to the full Twitter worldwide database in real-time. Beyond listening to what is being said about a company’s public image, they can now test market products or services and use Social Media to determine the reaction. The platform also has an interesting application in politics by allowing campaigns to determine sentiments on key issues by geographic region before a candidate campaigns in that area.

Improved customer response is probably the most obvious benefit to listening to Social Media, as a business can now pick up any post written about their company, product, or service and appropriately respond in minutes with a thank you for positive comments and a resolution or apology for negative experiences.

There is no turning back. Social Media demands that enterprise be great listeners and now they have no excuse.

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