How Behind Are You in Social Customer Experience?

customer experience

by Joe Cothrel |

When it comes to social customer experience, most executives feel they are behind. “We know,” they tell me, “that we should be doing more.”


I have to confess that I often smile when a brand tells me they are “behind in social.” That’s because I hear it so often, and I know it’s impossible for everyone to be behind. It’s sort of the Lake Wobegon Effect in reverse. But it is true that brands in general are still learning how to leverage the power of social technologies and that some are further along than others.

Still, is “doing more” really the answer?

Sometimes, it is. Safe to say, brands often miss great opportunities that exist within their business to use social technologies to generate value—whether through savings, satisfaction, or sales. That’s because they typically leap ahead to tactics, rather than stepping back and considering all the possibilities. If all your conversations are around technology and platforms, you’re guilty of leaping to tactics. By contrast, if you’re considering different customer segments, channels, product lines, or geographies plus relevant platforms, you’re on the right track. In this case, yes—it may be time to do more.

Sometimes, though, doing more isn’t the answer. Often a brand is doing plenty—the problem is that its various social efforts aren’t coordinated. A brand may have dozens of Facebook pages managed by different departments or locations. Or, Facebook presence might be well managed, but it isn’t connected in any way with what the brand is doing on Twitter, YouTube, or other networks. Even more common, communities and blogs on the website are disconnected from what’s happening off the website, on social networks. Once again, platform is part of the answer, but not the whole answer. If you’re not connecting these efforts with policy, organization, and business process, then technology integration won’t give you much benefit. In this case, doing more will only make things worse—the answer is, coordinate.

But it’s possible to be doing plenty, and coordinating your social efforts, and to still be behind. That’s because you may not know why you’re doing what you’re doing. Sounds unlikely? Far from it. In fact, brands often describe the mission of every social effort exactly the same way. It’s about getting closer to the customer! It’s about an open channel of communication! It’s about developing advocates, generating word of mouth, etc., etc., etc. The problem is, if that’s the reason for every social effort, then why do you need so many different efforts?  The fact is, Facebook is different than Twitter, and vice versa. The same is true for other channels – they do some things really well, and other things very poorly. Few brands integrate all their social efforts within an overarching strategy that defines the distinct role of each channel. And that’s what it takes—a strategy.

Are you ahead or behind? I’d say if you’ve truly defined the unique role of each of your social initiatives—regardless of how many different platforms you’re using—you’re not behind. You’re ahead.

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Joe Cothrel is Chief Community Officer at Lithium Technologies.  He is Lithium’s top expert on community and social best practices and has helped more than 300 companies execute successful social efforts.

He is active on Twitter @cothrel and is a regular contributor in the Lithium Community where he is JoeC