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I don't blog or tweet as much as I should. Generally I do when I am passionate about a topic. Last year when I blogged about ROI, it felt like the whole Social Media industry was saying it was too hard to put a dollar value on social media. I spoke about it at the Web 2.0 conf in NY as well. "No tangible ROI" is generally a kiss of death when trying to get a project funded at the exec level. I blogged about it then because it was a big issue with clients, and because I thought social media vendors needed to address it. I'm the CTO here at Awareness, so I got to focus our thinking about this in our next round of product features. I'll talk about the fruits of that later in this post. Of course we are always talking to clients and internally about how ROI is tied to what your "use case is for social media. If you are publishing blogs by your exec team, that has very different purpose and return-on-investment than a community that might be offering "peer support". Shortly after that we launched BPC's or "Best Practice Communities" to deploy our platform in ways to specific to each use case. Target the use case, and you can target a specific ROI benefit. You can read more on that in my Post "Stop whining about ROI and start digging for numbers "

Having BPC's in place meant we could enhance our reporting with dashboards dedicated to each use case. After all, if I want to look at a dashboard for a support community, I want to know how many questions have been asked/answered. If I am looking at a dashboard for an executive blog, I want to know how many comments have been left, how many page views that site gets, and how many leads have been generated from that activity. We added "Net Promoter Score " to all dashboards to make sure customer satisfaction and "referral" are kept as a measurement. You can read about our release of "Dashboards " here.

I'm thrilled to give you the inside scoop on our latest enhancement of our dashboards. Our dev team has been referring to this as "Dollars for Dashboards". The premise is simple and goes back to the blog post I wrote last year. Software can capture a metric, but it becomes a good ROI measurement when you add a cost/value multiplier (that you endorse and have agreement on). The platform will tell us how many questions were answered in a Support Community, you tell us what a support call is worth to you, and presto we can present a dashboard that shows ROI over a period of time. And next exec review you can make a statement like "We saved $24,514.25 in support calls with our community last quarter".

The dashboards take your input on the value of the various metrics we capture. Then we use those dollar values in the report. So now, for example, you can view our peer support community and see how many questions were answered last week, and what was the dollar value of that activity. Each dashboard allows you to edit your values by answering simple questions.

Here is a sample of some of the values we let you put in.
  • What is the value of an answered question?
  • What is the value of a new registered member?
    • As a lead
    • As better demographic info on an existing customer
  • what is the value of a comment?
  • what is the value of a shared innovation?
  • What is the value of a page view?

We aren't stopping there. Architecturally we've added the ability to put a numerical value on a post. This will allow community admin's to put arbitrary values on a piece of content. There are a lot of use cases here, but in an innovation community one idea may have a huge value. Now there is a place to track and document that. The team has a ton of ideas for next iteration of this feature, but it feels like it's a pretty big step for the industry to address ROI at the platform level.

Looking forward to the near future, I can't see slowing down in this area. I can see adding values to each profile question, and voting. If I am serious about lead generation, then certain profile responses would make them higher and lower value. The same applies if I am serious about improving customer service. The more I know about my customer the better I can serve them, and sell to them. ROI is not a tough nut to crack, but you definitely need to factor it in to the planning process of a community from the beginning.

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Is there too much "me" in "social media"?

One of the fears big companies have with Social Media is that they will set expectations too high.  Give an immediate response, and the customer will begin to expect it.  I'm all for giving crappy customer service a kick in the pants, but this recent social media high-five that's being broadcast across Twitter that is a little disturbing to me.

JetBlue Twitterer Gets Customer a Wheelchair

In case you don't want to click the link, here is a synopsis.

a woman writes...

"@jetblue, I need a wheelchair!". 

the JetBlue person immediately texts back...

"Are you in an airport? shoot me a DM and let me see if I can help"

OK, first.  Excellent for JetBlue for getting on it.  Great customer service should be applauded.  But is this sustainable?  Someone had to read and respond, and other than avoiding being on hold, will this be staffed any better than their customer service on the phone?  A great outcome would have been if another citizen had chipped in to help too.  If thats the case than Iwould like to say ...

@starbucks "Latte's are too expensive"
@ImmigrationCanada whats with the freaking long lines for a passport
@IBM @Microsoft @Apple @anysoftwareonmycomputer.. stop freezing up
@haircut lady - I SAID NO GEL!

Right now, although those of us who work in social media think its a big audience, Twitter is somewhere between 1-2 million users (correct me if I am way off).  Unfortunately there are 1.5 billion internet users in the world, and well over 2 billion people with mobile phones. Lets say this catches on. If each and every person starts to believe they can simply shout something and get an answer from the company, I think we are heading for a fall.

I love this video "Everything is amazing, nobody is happy". 

What am I saying?

  • Brands/Companies -  you can do a better job and leverage social media to get closer to your customers, respond quicker, AND help customer help each other.  "Better" will depend on the company, the price of the product, the quality, the loyalty of their customers... etc

  • Brands/Companies -  bad news - crappy customer service will be broadcasted to the public in realtime

  • Brands/Companies -  good new - great customer service will be broadcasted to the public in realtime

  • People of the Planet Earth - Expect better, but reward good customer service.  Don't be a hater the second it doesn't go your way.

  • People of the Planet Earth - Help when you can.  Thats why its called "social" media. There is not nor will their ever be a customer service person dedicated for your use only. 
Yes indivuals weild more power than we did.  Lets not abuse it.

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