Do your customers use social media to observe or share?

My friend and colleague Pat Gibbons recently introduced a framework for customer listening tools. His blog prompted some discussion, including the use of social media to test assumptions and conclusions.

With the latest findings from the Nielsen Global Online Consumer Survey, leveraging social media as a listening tool should be a requirement for many organizations. Ignoring these channels is too dangerous.

However, as we tap into this wealth of information to test our hypotheses and conclusions, we must seek to understand more about those who are participating online. Specifically, is the online discussion reflective of the views and opinions of our most valuable customers? How influential are the individuals who are participating?

While the use of social media has become mainstream, there is a difference between using social media to observe versus using social media to share. While the percent of individuals who use social media to share has increased, the majority of us use it to observe.

Not all customers are the same. And, as we extend the way we listen to include social media channels, we must remember to ask ourselves, does this online discussion reflect the views and opinions of the right customers?

Phote credit: Alison Bechdel

Note: This post was originally published in Customer Connection on 12/2/2009.

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