Taken together, the combined acts of consumption, curation, creation, and collaboration carry participants in the conversations around your business from readers to talkers to co-creators. Two fundamentally important considerations that are directly applicable to your business or organization come out of this. First, your audience is more inclined to engage in collaborative activities—sharing thoughts, ideas, concerns—that include you. It may be a “negative” process:
The Operations and Marketing Connection
your audience may be including you in a conversation whose end-goal is a change in your business process that improves a particular (negative) experience they’ve had. Or, it may be simply “We love you…here’s what else we’d like to see.” The actual topics matter less than the fact that your customers are now actively sharing with you their view of the ways in which what you offer affects them. By building in social behaviors and inviting customers into these processes, your business or organization is in a much better position to identify and tap the evangelists that form around your brand, product, or service.
Connect Your Team
Second, because your customers or other stakeholders have moved from reading to creating and collaborating, they are significantly closer to the steps that follow collaboration as it leads to engagement: trial, purchase, and advocacy. The engagement process provides your customers with the information and experiences needed to become effective advocates, and to carry your message further into their own personal networks.
The connection between the disciplines of marketing.
The connection between the disciplines of marketing and operations and social media—and in particular the conversations, ratings, photos, and more that circulate on the Social Web—is this: The majority of conversations that involve a brand, product, or service are those that arise out of a difference between what was expected and what was delivered or experienced. After all, we tend to talk more about what was not expected than what was expected.
In this simple relationship between expectation and actual experience, the folly of trying to control conversations on the Social Web becomes clear: Conversations on the Social Web are the artifacts of the work product of someone else—a blogger, a customer, a voter, etc.—who typically doesn’t report to the organization desiring to gain control! You can’t control something that isn’t yours to control.
Instead, it is by changing the product design, the service policy or similar in order to align the experience with the expectation or to ensure the replicable delivery of “delight,” for example, as Zappos does when it upgrades shipping to “Next Day” for no other reason than to delightfully surprise a customer. At Zappos, it’s not just a story of an occasional surprise upgrade that got blown out of proportion in the blogosphere. When bloggers—and customers—rave about Zappos, it’s for good reason: Zappos creates sufficient moments of delight that many people have experienced them and gone on to create and share content about them It’s expensive—and Zappos isn’t always the lowest cost shoe retailer.