|There is a Chinese proverb which says, "Tell me and I will forget. Show me and I may remember. Involve me and I will understand." This proverb and the motivation of this post is inspired by a series of posts - here is a quick summary:|
• and these:
The latter group of posts all asking the same question - are monitoring companies listening?
The first "challenge post" I recall by memory dates back to sometime around last year when Andrew Frank (linked above and here again) wondered whether monitoring companies eat their own dogfood. I'll admit, I'm a little adverse to the way the challenge was coined in its crude manner, and yet I also understand the amusing way terms like "dogfood" enter into discussions of this nature.
This was followed-up with the series of posts, last of which happened just last week (the sequence I used above is chronological). I had decided to not chime in on the more recent Andrew Frank posts and chose instead to see what would develop in the comments - I'll link you to them here. Then a few weeks later another post popped-up and I participated in this one, but still a little reluctantly. You might be asking, why on earth would anyone back down from an opportunity to promote your company? Before I get into it, I'll pre-empt you on a discussion I had with one of the authors.
I had an opportunity to speak with Mark Goren soon after connecting from his blog post and it seemed that his post received some mixed reactions. The post and Mark's comment was a good natured way of describing his intentions. It was at this time that it began to occur to me that part of the problem with our view towards social media monitoring vendors is how the line between endorsements and customer testimonials get blurry. It is this grey area of endorsement vs. testimonial that seems to have at least caught the interest and concern of the FTC and at least one tweet I stumbled on while drafting this post:
Have the one-way endorsements plugged up the social media monitoring channels to the point where its impossible to have a dialogue, and perhaps set up vendors in this space for this type of challenge and calling-out? And are posts like this further perpetuating a monologue rather than an active dialogue between vendors and those potentially interested in initiating their services?
Its a tough call, and I rarely want to justify not participating in a discussion about our industry, but have chosen to do so especially when the post doesn't include at least one other element that overcomes the aspect of self-promotion. I applaud and thank those that are genuinely interested in creating awareness and getting the word out on the work of vendors. IMHO, it might do us all well to continue with the rallying call, while making sure to ask the types of questions that will give reason for people to engage in discussions with vendors.
Perhaps we may start with asking the simple question: why companies initiate monitoring in the first place? Here are some of the main motivators we've been able to identify:
» brand/reputation monitoring
» competitive review
» consumer insights
» customer service
» reducing costs (i.e. our services cost a fraction of what it would cost to hire an intern)
» campaign planning
At least one of these items (competitor tracking) inspires the next question - how/why should we think about engaging in conversations with audiences/customers? This ties back to the last part of the proverb - the "involve me and I will understand" bit - and unless any challenge or call to social media monitoring vendors includes a dialogue that can equip and facilitate business value through knowledge and helpful advice, it will remain a monologue no matter how effective you may think it is for vendors to chime-in on the timeliness and promotional factors alone.
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