The following is by G. A . “Andy” Marken, President of Marken Communications Inc. He has kindly given us permission to republish his thought-provoking article. As with everything that we publish at AlienBabelTech, the opinions expressed are solely those of the individual writer and do not necessarily reflect the views and the opinions of the rest of the ABT staff. –Mark Poppin, ABT Senior Editor
“Everyone” is embracing social media – Facebook, LinkedIn, YouTube, Twitter, etc. It’s a way for organizations to bring their staffs, consultants, customers closer together.
Social media is the more efficient, more effective way for companies and consumers to identify each other’s wants, needs, goals. It was one of the underlying themes of Dreamforce – The Cloud Computing Event of the Year, sponsored by Salesforce.com.
Internal and external social media has become such a big business (check all of the cloud company stocks) that the global management consulting firm, Accenture, announced they were planting a social media lab in Silicon Valley to help clients realize all of the benefits of the all-inclusive solution.
It’s the next phase of industry growth beyond Geoffrey Moore’s digital chasm (bringing advanced technology beyond the early adopters to mainstream – volume – profits) that business, industry and communications are rushing to capitalize on … or be left in the dust.
Marc Benioff, Salesforce’s CEO, had the solution for organizations (customers) – add customers to Chatter, use HTML5 for mobile CRM apps, provide the means for customers to store sensitive data away from prying eyes and provide opportunities for companies/customers to forever become joined at the waist and live happily ever after.
Benioff told the captive audience that the world has moved beyond Moore’s Chasm and that businesses are now faced with a huge and dangerous challenge – the Social Chasm.
Make the transition now and join up with their digitally adept customers or be stranded on “the other side.”
Jeezz, that’s a proposition that’s hard to resist.
Before you make the leap across the Social Chasm to be on the same side as your customers, maybe we should make certain Geoffrey’s Chasm should be retired.
Back in ’91, Geoffrey first advanced the idea that companies focused so much attention on and gave too much emphasis on results with the innovators/early adopters that they moved to the next innovation before there was widespread adoption.
The counter to Moore’s Chasm was that “everyone knows about it, everyone is using it.”
A few years later, market research firm Gartner introduced a modification of the adoption lifecycle and Moore’s Chasm called appropriately the Hype Cycle.
What they’ve found is that there is no single master time period you can use to predict that in five, ten years a product, a technology, a phenomenon will be in widespread use by the early/late majority.
So what does that have to do with the insane, universal success of social media?
For the consumer products firm, it’s all about reaching, educating, convincing, winning people with…money.
Sorry to be crass, but Jerry Maguire was right, “Show me the money.”
That means meeting up with, mating with people who can afford the product/service you offer whether for themselves or others in their family.
Surprise…they aren’t your kids!
In the U.S. (and the numbers are similar around the globe), people over 50 control 67 percent of the nation’s wealth, $2.4 trillion.
In the U.S., roughly one-third of the population falls into this age category.
It’s easy to say that if the customer isn’t “socially active,” he or she doesn’t count.
Behind the Curve
The problem is, they have the buying power and they haven’t fully embraced technology, let alone social media.
Those who do use the technology do so primarily to research subjects, ideas products. If they use social media, it’s primarily to connect with friends/professional acquaintances and for entertainment.
It is seldom to Twitter, post neat videos, cute stuff or inflammatory comments for the ROW.
When it comes to interacting with customers on their smartphones with coupons, special offers, relationship activities, their numbers are even worse.
They are educated, from a wide range of ethnic backgrounds and have the disposable income that makes them logical smartphone users. But for the majority, a phone is … a phone.
They have yet to see the value proposition in embracing all of the other features, capabilities, connectivity.
Of course, it may have something to do with their eyes … we’re not certain.
However, they are logical prospects for tablets:
- They are already comfortable/experienced with computers and the Internet
- They are as mobile as any age group
- They have the buying power
We don’t want to take anything away from Benioff’s point that businesses are suffering from a Social Divide because … it’s valid.
But companies like social media because it enables them to quickly, easily, economically collect a lot of information about customers.
That information can be used to design/develop/offer more products, services for their present and prospective customers.
If yours is a consumer product with broad potential, you need to stretch beyond social media because you’re overlooking members of an important demographic segment.
True, it’s easier to collect data about customers who are involved in social media because the information is easily obtained. But using or not using social media isn’t a gauge of how worthy, how valuable they are as a customer.
We can’t ignore the importance or the value social media provides to all parties; but the digital divide still exists…it might be beneficial to get them more widely connected to technology and all of its fantastic benefits.
As for us, we have the next generation LeapFrog LeapPad on order because we’re tired of cleaning peanut butter and jelly off our iPad screen.
# # #
by: G.A. “Andy” Marken
Marken Communications Inc.
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