Real Time Understanding

by · March 14, 20136 comments

We all know that social media data is driving us towards thinking about our business differently.  Whether it is engaging your consumer demographic in new ways: engaging with customers on a Facebook fan page or managing up to the minute attacks on your brand; handling a viral twitter crisis or simply peeking in on those talking about your brand; listening to people talk about what they like on forums or becoming a trusted resource in those communities; your world is now upside down.  To add insult to injury, all of this is starting to become necessary at the speed of social.  To put it bluntly, this means real time baby.  It isn’t enough to simply track your brand week by week now, it is becoming moment by moment.  And you can’t simply look at key attributes at only the highest level, you need to look at the attributes you know as well as ones that you may not even know exist.

How are we going to survive this new business reality?  I have said it many times in my adventures across the social media landscape; we are living in a time where you don’t own your brand anymore.  How are you going to adjust?  You are going to need to think out of the box right now and not later.  So let’s deconstruct that thought a bit.  If I need to watch my brand or business in a multitude of ways moment by moment in social, what am I going to need?

Frankly, you are going to need tools that are both fast and accurate, a process that is collaborative and connected,  and a culture that is ready to trust that you can’t think as long as you used to.  If you can do that, what do you get for it?  If you can market in the moment, you can achieve business proactivity.

Why are tools that are fast and accurate key to achieving real time understanding?

This is very straight forward… if you can find a system that can process the social data at the speed it is created and that data is inaccurate you cannot make accurate decisions from it.  If you have really accurate data that takes a long time to put together you cannot make timely decisions from it.  Conceptually, you need to be able to get very accurate data quickly if you want to be able to understand the moment by moment reaction to a marketing campaign during the superbowl.

Why does your process need to be collaborative and connected?

Whether you are looking at a company vertically (from the executive to the employees executing the business) or horizontally (across business units or functions), having a strong process is imperative for the company to run.  Anyone who has worked in a large company knows that even at the old pace of business, without process you cannot succeed.  Now we live in a world where a social crisis can arise  and catch you off guard at any time on any day.  Today, a company MUST figure out how to create social business processes that are nearly flawless because of the rate that decisions may have to be made.  If you have leadership who short circuits the social crisis management process or silos that don’t communicate across the organization, you are putting yourself at risk of wasting your lead time that is razor thin to begin with.

Why is trust such an important part of your new social media culture?

While culture and trust are soft topics when it comes to business, no one would argue that they are both important and real.  When working in a new business landscape that demands you be ready at any moment, trusting each other to get the job done is imperative.  You can be able to understand the social information moment by moment, you can have a process that governs what to do, but if your leadership or your people constantly second guess how to take action, you are dead in the water.  If your leadership agrees that each social crisis, for example, needs to be triaged in a fast and organized way by a team with the expertise and authority to interpret the situation, then they cannot cry “the sky is falling” every time they read something negative online.  This wastes time, this wastes resources and it can damage your brand beyond repair.

Why do I keep writing about process and culture in addition to tools?  Because I can give you methods to understand moment by moment what is happening from a technology perspective.  What you must provide is the holistic view of where social fits in your organization and the knowledge that good process and a trusting culture gives you the ability to make those insights actionable and the ROI tangible.

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About Malcolm De Leo

Malcolm De Leo

Malcolm, Chief Evangelist at NetBase Solutions, Inc.,  is a subject matter expert in the area of applying social media in an effort to build the marketplace for this powerful new consumer data source. Previously, Malcolm was the Global Vice President of Innovation at Daymon Worldwide and prior to that Malcolm spent 10 years at the Clorox Company managing partnerships with technology companies, developing innovation processes and building new innovation infrastructure.

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Comments on Social Media Explorer are open to anyone. However, I will remove any comment that is disrespectful and not in the spirit of intelligent discourse. You are welcome to leave links to content relevant to the conversation, but I reserve the right to remove it if I don't see the relevancy. Be nice, have fun. Fair?

  • Carol Lynn Featherstone

    Thanks for your insight Malcolm.  Really helpful information in this time when social media is so prevalent in ALL of our lives.  

  • Dara Khajavi

    These are some great points. Social media has changed the way everyone communicates. Unfortunately, many businesses are still behind on the times. Thanks for this great post. I will definitely used what I learned here.

  • Phylicia

    As a Kent State University PR grad student, you present and reiterate points constantly discussed in class. I’m currently taking PR Online Tactics course in which we read Li and Bernoff’s Groundswell. The groundswell concept came to mind while reading this because it’s all about listening to the consumer to get that real time understanding. Whether it’s social media or something as simple as the ratings and review section (mentioned in the Groundswell), companies must take heed to the consumer voice. You mentioned we are living in a time where companies no longer own their brand. I definitely agree! Wit the speed of social one tweet, Facebook post, pin on Pinterest, video on Youtube or any other form of interaction can cause of wave of positive or negative chatter. Companies must find a way to address and handle such situations. This is all a part of the social management crisis process you mentioned. I think companies who are aware of the change in the landscape, are willing to listen and learn from social media talk will be successful in the new world of social media.

  • Proffesional Copywriting

    There have been so many examples of social media marketing messages that have run off the rails in recent years that it is surprising that more businesses aren’t taking the position that you are advocating. When the whole point of social media is to engage with people on an individual level it makes sense that tracking those interactions must be on an individual level as well. Thinking of social marketing in the same way as advertisers use television advertising is one of the most common mistakes that businesses make simply because this attitude takes the genuine engagement out of the equation.

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  • michael bian

    Social media is important in communication serve as a tool in any business industry