What About Other Social Media Platforms? How Are THEY USED, and What Are The implications For Customer Service?
There are all kinds of other social media platforms out ranging from those that are picture oriented (Pinterest), video oriented (YouTube), run by news organizations (NY Times, Huffington Post), going down in scale to the millions of blogs operated by individuals or smaller companies.
The larger platforms don’t publish statistics on page views and number of comments, so it’s difficult to determine exactly how social any of these sites actually are. Even many of the smaller site don’t make these number available, or easily available.
Overall, though the consensus is that The 1% rule applies, and that for forums, blogs and communites, in which everyone must be a content creator only 1% of the users of a forum actively create new posts or comment,and the other 99% of the participants only lurk. (read only).
Case In Point – Social Media Experts Aren’t Even Social
Social Media Today is a website/community that claims “The world’s best thinkers on social media “. if there’s ever be a place where you’d see a lot of conversation on social media, you’d think this would be it, since the social media experts keep telling us that it’s all about interacting. Here are a few numbers on comments and retweets, but note that the company does not post page views.
On Aug. 19th, 2013, I looked at the posts made, and featured on the front page of this site. Post dates ranged from the 16th to the 19th, and I tallied up how many retweets were received and how many comments made. The results?
I looked at twenty six articles featured on the front page. Remembering that we don’t know how many people read or saw these articles, a total of 5, 384 tweets of those articles occurred. Amidst the readership, and the social media experts using the site, how many commented? ZERO. There was not a single comment attached to any of the twenty six articles. Lest you think this is a sample biased, or small, I eyeballed more articles just to see if the pattern was an anomoly. No. This pattern of “no comments” continued on and on.
Another Example: Where Customer Service Is Discussed
CustomerThink is one of the leading platforms for the “discussion” of issues related to customer service, and in fact there’s some outstanding material posted there. Again, you’d expect that customer service experts, who stress so highly the importance of engaging with customers would themselves, engage with the content they find online, by entering into conversation and dialogue.
CustomerThink also makes available the number of page views for each article, so we can get an idea of how many people actually see the posts, something that socialmediatoday does not do.
What do the numbers look like here? We looked at the most DISCUSSED posts made on their platform. The numbers that follow are the absolute BEST case. Most posts do far less well, and the pattern stays pretty much consistent if you look at the ratio of posts to comments over the last year, or even over all time.
Tying This Back To Customer Service
Companies ARE slowly increasing their allocation of resources to social media channels for customer service, and there is a constant litany from customer service and social media experts about how powerful social media is, how impactful it can be on company bottom lines, and how companies MUST move with the times, and embrace it.
The problem is that this advice is based on a faulty understanding of social meda. Consider:
Most social media posts aren’t seen, for example on Facebook and Twitter, because they “stream” by, and forever disappear down river and into the oceon, never to be read again.
When social media posts ARE seen, most are never responded to, and in fact, there’s minimal conversations occuring about the initial post. This is important because a long conversation extends the life of the post beyond the thirty minutes, hour or three hours where it will be initially seen.
There’s also a notion that customers want to have discussions with brands, and while surveys may indicate that, it’s often a result of the say-do gap. In fact, the number of people — any people who actually converse is so small, it becomes obvious that social isn’t social, and people are really not interested. Until they have a problem, perhaps.
It’s almost like because social media has the word “social” in it, it’s automatically assumed that it IS social, but clearly it’s not in any reasonable sense. If you went to a party and you weren’t interested in having a conversation, and in fact, didn’t even bother to reply to attempts to talk to you, we wouldn’t call you social. We’d actually call you “anti-social”. And that, despite the name, despite the claims of social media experts, is exactly what happens on social media.
Given that’s the case, we need to look at a number of other claims about where social media fits into the customer service scheme of things, not based on surveys, but based on actual behavior. Then we can see why customer service has NOT improved since the huge popularization of social media. Counter-intuitively, social media may not matter much when it comes to levels of customer service actually affect company profits, something we mentioned in the opening chapters of this book.