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Now I too am a lazy blogger …

Published by Eric T. Peterson on April 18, 2008 All posts from Eric T. Peterson

Because I have finally, after much goading, joined the Twitter generation. It took Aaron Gray from WebTrends and like 11 beers (which I felt this morning, mind you) after a very successful Web Analytics Wednesday event here in Portland to get me to join Twitter. Hell, I didn’t even join after meeting Biz Stone and boating around Rotterdam with him last summer (sorry Biz!) But Aaron made me wonder who Twitter streams might be used in the engagement calculation so like a cat to milk I went running.

Incidentally I did not say “Twitter has no value” or at least I don’t think I said that.  I suspect there was some qualification involved (although see my above comment about 11 beers … sheesh!)

Thanks Aaron. Yet another excuse to play with my iPhone, not my kids. You rule.

Want to follow me? I’m easy to find!

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Categorized under Random Thoughts, Web Analytics People

  • Jim Novo

    OK, I’ll bite. I don’t doubt Twitter is entertaining.

    Here’s where I get confused. Aaron said:

    “Are people talking positively about your brand or negatively about your brand. Identify the influencers and model the conversations. Are you trending in a negative sentiment direction?…etc”

    Why wouldn’t you go to customer service and review the call logs if you really wanted to know what people think? Wouldn’t you rather know what they think *before* it gets posted in a social environment?

    Why wait?

    I’m sure tracking all this social stuff can be interesting, but if it tells you something you don’t already know, then seems to me you’re not doing your job as a Marketer.

    I know some folks are in favor of “taking action” when they run into bad sentiment in social, but how about preventing it by taking action internally on what you should already know from customer service?

    Anyone want to clarify?

  • Aaron Gray


    Why assume that these folks are even engaged with customer service? The thing about Twitter is that it allows people talk, potentially to a LOT lot of people, before they think. Now, as a social media savvy organization, you can reach out to these people to engage them in customer service.

    It’s not at all uncommon for people to seek support or “service” from peers, whom they trust, rather than from the company, whom they trust less than peers. A clear example of this behavior is the web analytics Yahoo! group. It’s a regular occurrence. You’ll regularly see the major analytics vendors reaching out to help those people, to make sure they get the service and support that they deserve. The same thing is happening on Twitter.

    It’s also not all about customers. It’s about Word of Mouth. It’s about influential people having an influence on what other people think of your brand. Maybe they’re talking about your product strategy. And maybe they’re not correctly informed about what your product strategy really is. By paying attention, you have an opportunity to engage and influence the direction of the conversations. Word of Mouth has the potential to prevent people from becoming new customers.

    Lastly, Jim, I’m actually in complete agreement with you. If you’re relying on Twitter as your only source of input as to what people think of your brand you’re in bad shape. But it should be part of a complete strategy. Why wait, indeed. But why exclude the ability to quantify your impact on Word of Mouth?


  • Chris G

    I agree with Aaron. Contacting customer service is a different metric, usually measuring things that *must* be addressed, as opposed to things that are merely inconvenient, difficult, disappointing or frustrating — i.e. the realm of Word of Mouth.

    I have never seem a correlation of the two sources of information, but I wouldn’t be surprised if in 2008 Word of Mouth is the lead indicator, not customer service logs. Things will appear in the social media BEFORE the customer service logs.

    Word of Mouth also will show a broader spectrum of issues that should not be ignored, i.e. the merely inconvenient, frustrating, etc.

    And Word of Mouth will contain positive remarks, which should be as important as the negatives that customer service tends to get exclusively.

    Last comment: I don’t find Twitter to be entertaining at all, except for one or two people who manage to be consistently clever. Twitter is a bore. The signal-to-noise ratio, for MY PERSONAL purposes, is at least 100 to 1. Yet the payback, for MY PERSONAL purposes, is there, so I continue with it.

  • Jim Novo


    Thanks for responding. I’m not saying Word of Mouth isn’t important, we get a ton of it for the Lab Store, and it’s everywhere – Twitter, YouTube, Facebook, all of it. And, I’m happy to say, it’s very positive, because we take really good care of our customers, and they don’t hesitate one moment to contact Service if they have any issues.

    So I guess my question is this: why in the world would a company create a relationship where customers “seek support or “service” from peers, whom they trust, rather than from the company”?

    That’s insane, in my mind.

    We love all the social commentary about the Lab Store but we don’t “do anything” about it, because it just is what it is, it’s a result of smart Marketing and great Service. This kind of chatter has (hopefully) always gone on about great companies. The only difference now is there exists a public, crunchable record of it.

    Just because the data exists, does that mean I should track it? I guess only if you are “afraid” of the social commentary in some way. And if you are, then methinks that’s a bass-ackwards way to deal with it.

  • Chris Gemignani

    I’m new to the twitter fold myself. In my limited experience its strengths and weaknesses regarding your brand are much the same.

    It’s an influencer/blogger-oriented medium. I’m not sure if it will ever become mainstream, but OMG! it’s where all the bloggers are. Twitter users aren’t representative of your typical customer.

    Customer experience is determined by both 1) my expectations for an experience (this is branding) and 2) the actual experience itself. Maybe we need to separate these two things explicitly.

    I like your formulation: “lazy blogging”. The barrier to entry to a Twitter post is a lot lower than a real post.

  • eric

    Chris: Thanks. I won’t pretend I made up “lazy blogging” — I saw it in a Twitter from Bob Page, apparently quoting June Dershewitz. But I have to agree with you, low barrier to entry.

    The problem is, and since you’re following me, I basically am Twittering crap. Maybe I’ll get better at using Twitter while I am on the road the next three weeks — I found a cool mobile Twitter client for my hacked iPhone — but for me the jury is still out.

    Interesting debate you’ve started Jim, thanks!

  • Jim Novo

    Chris –

    > Word of Mouth also will show a broader spectrum of issues that should not be ignored, i.e. the merely inconvenient, frustrating, etc.

    I think I’m getting a handle on this.

    If your company / Marketing folks can’t or won’t become customer-centric, then tracking social conversations is a good solution for the company, because they don’t really know what’s going on with the customer. It’s the only way these folks will find out about “inconvenient, difficult, disappointing or frustrating”.

    In truly customer-centric organizations, folks already know about “inconvenient, difficult, disappointing or frustrating”. So instead of tracking conversations about these issues, they’re doing something about them!

    I understand it now – thanks!

    See ya all at eMetrics San Fran…

  • Julie Booth

    Jim said:

    “So I guess my question is this: why in the world would a company create a relationship where customers “seek support or “service” from peers, whom they trust, rather than from the company”?

    That’s insane, in my mind.”

    Well. Many companies simply cannot keep up with customer support requests, and don’t know even know the answer because they haven’t discovered or logged that bug yet.

    Any many customers are used to wading through a bunch of Marketing B.S. and convoluted routes to articles that help them NOW. I observed over 100 software developers trying to research software developer tools and find support for installing and maintaining them. A whopping 98% regularly turn to 3rd party developer blogs to get the answer from a reliable source — “another peer” … Look at the popularity of the Microsoft Developers Network, sponsored by Microsoft, yes, but populated by articles from civilians. I can’t think of a better use for Twitter. Tweet a problem — get a response immediately from either the company monitor, or a fellow who can answer the question. Comcast is doing it now.

  • Aaron Gray


    The point is, there are companies who find benefit engaging with the social media communities surrounding their brand, and Twitter is one way (not the only way) to do it. Some of these companies are historically customer centric, some of these companies are only just now realizing what happens when you’re not customer centric. That doesn’t matter, really. What matters is that they’re looking for more ways to get voice of customer into their feedback loop.

    I’m not sure why you’d look down on ANY strategy aimed at helping a company become more customer centric.


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  • Aaron Gray

    Tara Hunt posted on the effective use of Twitter for companies over at Horse Pig Cow.

  • Pingback: Marketing Productivity Blog » Blog Archive » Push, then Pull

  • kenobi

    There are still people who don’t ‘get’ (or want to get) Twitter. Perhaps they’re going through what we did back when it launched in 2006.

    What got me hooked was looking for names of people I admire (writers, business leaders, respected bloggers – they’re usually on Twitter) and follow their comments. I get comments from my friends about amazing web links, news items, and more.

    Twitter is like one big chatroom where the only people in the conversation are the ones you’ve invited. It gets interesting when your comments are sufficiently engaging enough to attract hundreds of followers from around the globe.

    Despite all this, people still don’t feel Twitter is genuinely valuable – they get its purpose? But does any site have a valuable purpose? What defines a valuable website exactly? One that lets you pay your bills or one that lets you stay in touch with friends? This is what the facebook and Twitter debate seems to revolve around – just how valuable are these websites to daily life. Value is personal and unique.

    How very Oprah.

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  • Dash Lavine

    After joining Twitter recently (following Aaron’s well constructed Dragonfish argument regarding the benefits), the primary issue I still see is what Chris describes as the “signal-to-noise” ratio. While I wholeheartedly agree with Aaron when it comes to utilizing social networking communities to engage with a customer base, the true challenge in my mind is the measurement and reaction portion of the equation, especially when you have a large percentage of users “twittering crap”.

  • KO

    I have the pleasure of being both a part of the analytics team and in customer service here at my company. And if you ask me, every small to medium size company should consider if not combining these departments completely, then at least placing them in proximity to each other. I can tell you first hand, the complaints/frustrations or even compliments that customer service receives is vastly different from phone to email to “outside” social community venting. People are much more likely, for example, to curse you out indirectly. In the age of internet, you become much more anonymous, and therefor less responsible for their comments. People can be downright mean, and they are more apt to do it if they are anonymous. Leave the email section of your survey or comments forms optional, and customers will more often than not leave it blank.

    You can have someone on the phone telling you that your site is frustrating them because the website is slow. What they aren’t going to tell you on the phone is that they feel the site is so slow and painful that they will never shop with you again. Most people just don’t say that to your face… Ask your teenagers how many of them have broken up with boyfriends/girlfriends through a text, email, or myspace.

    Social networking and sites like Twitter are becoming a lot more relevant. Maybe even more so for customer service than for analytics. You’re learning from customers what they aren’t willing to tell you in person. Sure there is “Twitter crap”, but there is a lot of crap in our customer service email inbox as well. From an analytics point-of-view, aren’t you always sifting through the crap to find the actionable stuff anyway?


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