Managing Real-Time Customers
By Norm Johnston, Mindshare, March 2011
I’m old. Conclusive proof has come to light. First, I still ring a door bell with my index finger. Apparently today’s Nintendo DS trained youth use their thumbs. Second, I still mainly communicate via email, which is something “old people do” according to research from Jeff Cole and the USC’s Center for the Digital Future. Today’s youth prefer to use social networks like Facebook to communicate with others. That’s not to say that email is completely dead. Microsoft’s latest Context Matters II research points out that email is still the top activity online.
|"Today’s youth prefer to use social networks like Facebook to communicate with others."|
However, that same research clearly indicates that when and how people are using email is evolving; online users increasingly have a burst of email in the morning, and spend the rest of the day communicating via alternative tools like IM, Twitter, or Facebook.
|"Asynchronous brand conversation is being replaced by synchronous brand dialogue."|
Who cares? Well, probably all of those companies who have spent the last decade migrating their Customer Relationship Management programs from snail mail to very elaborate email-based platforms. What was a brilliant idea in 2003 – sending out regular cheap, customizable email newsletters – now looks increasingly antiquated in a world of 600 million Facebook users poking, posting, and liking. What’s more alarming is that a lot of this activity is directed at brands. Air Asia now has over 74,000 “fans” regularly engaged with the brand on its official Facebook page. Why bother with email when you can get instant information and a rapid response from your favourite brand or fellow fan in real-time?
Of course some brands have already embraced this new ethos. For example, Unilever’s Impulse brand has transitioned its CRM program to Facebook, where its audience of young teenage girls already spend significant time. The Impulse Diaries program acts as an on-going MRC platform fully integrated and sustained within Facebook.
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