Why is online feedback so broken?

service on yelpConsumers have changed in the past 5 years, now they do more than consume, they create too.

Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, Foursquare and others have trained their Billion users combined in the art of publishing. The pursuit of Comments, Likes and Shares are at the heart of Consumer Publishing, and getting those Likes can sometimes be more important than being truthful.

When it comes to feedback, trying to write a sharable review is at odds with the needs of the business being reviewed. Constructive feedback is great for the business owner, but isn’t all that sharable. Controversial, sensational, emotional, hateful and provocative are better. Combine this with an unhealthy disregard for issues of liable, with Online Ratings and Reviews sites perceived to be a Safe Harbour for the reviewer, and your business can suffer very badly indeed, with little or no recourse.

Yabbit provides a channel for consumers to give feedback that is both discrete and constructive, giving the Business Owner the chance to follow up and diffuse any issues before they become public. By promoting Yabbit you encourage your customers to channel their feedback to you in a constructive way, saving your business from expensive long term brand damage.

Starting a business is True Grit, not The X Factor!

Successful businesses evolve from the same place as unsuccessful businesses, but something happens along the way that makes them pop. On rare occasions, a phenomenal idea will emerge that’s backed by a suitably phenomenal management team then the magic happens, but that’s the stuff of legend. For the rest of us, separating wheat from chaff is a grind.

But the grind is the last thing on the mind of many an entrepreneur. Overnight success stories litter our TV screens, conditioning those who know no better to think that being discovered is more important than working hard. And like pitchy hopefuls on unreality TV, many entrepreneurs mistakenly assume the slippery slope to success is greased by exposure alone. It isn’t. Time spent looking for limelight could be better spent knocking on the doors of potential customers, hunting for feedback and trying to secure distribution for their shiny idea.

Walking the streets and talking to potential customers is busking for entrepreneurs, it probably won’t lead to overnight success, but you get to perfect your pitch and make some money along the way, increasing staying power and the likelihood you will nail an audition if the time is right. Better still, generate enough income to avoid external funding and you negate the allure of instant fame altogether.

A high price to pay…

After following a link suggested by a LinkedIn contact I visited Open Forum hoping to read about a recent interview with Sir Richard Branson.

When I got there I was given the option to sign in with LinkedIn, easy I thought…Open Forum

Luckily, I paused at the sign in page long enough to read the terms and realised that signing in with LinkedIn meant I would have to pimp out my beloved LinkedIn contacts… WHAT?

In exchange for access to this interview I have to provide Open Forum access to my LinkedIn contacts, worse still, let Open Forum communicate with my contacts as me! AS ME!(Just like my contact obviously had!)

This doesn’t seem like a fair exchange to me, not by any stretch. Unbridled access to over 1,600 contacts that I know personally and getting to masquerade to those contacts as me to spruik your company message, that would surely be worth many thousands of dollars, way more than the value of the content I suspect.

Time to look for another source of inspiration!

Turning Advertisers off with visual Vomit

As a user, Facebook is frustrating, and as an advertiser, it’s downright useless.

Humans are skilled at ignoring the visual vomit around them, and these are skills that have been perfected over many years of increasingly desperate advertising techniques – from the subliminal to the ridiculous.

Stealing 5 minutes to get critical updates on the latest cat meme is what Facebook is all about, and monetising that experience has mostly been limited to targeted advertising (selling your personal details to advertisers so that they can craft ads most likely to drive a response). But with just $10 of annual revenues from each of its 600m or so engaged users Facebook has a long way to go to satisfy its many Shareholders’ many expectations!

The real challenge for Facebook though is that economically it’s still a One Trick Pony with 8 out of every 10 dollars of revenue coming from advertising. So how does Facebook outgrow the rebounding economy in order to drive up shareholder returns?

I think they have three pillars of advertising growth ahead of them, each of which will likely trade off user experience for advertiser revenue:

More advertising inventory – as the rate of subscriber growth slows more inventory is required to avoid an overall slide in the supply of advertising space – meaning more of the Facebook page will be dedicated to paid media resulting in a poorer user experience

More personal advertising – Facebook will give as much data as it can to advertisers to make the advertising product more effective – meaning Facebook will go even further to leverage their users’ personal data

More interruptive advertising – as consumers get better at ignoring the Advertising Vomit, Facebook will push its products to become more interruptive, meaning you have to wait for them to finish or actively “push” them out of the way. A poorer experience but one that is likely to yield more clicks for the advertiser.

And yet, the real challenge here for Facebook is that it just isn’t a great place to advertise for most businesses. It’s neither a great Brand advertising platform, nor is it a great Performance advertising platform – and in this analytically informed world of Marketing, the investment required to evaluate the effectiveness of an advertising platform is lower than ever before – meaning most big advertising dollars have already come and gone.

Is Privacy dead, or just too hard?

Lorrie Faith Cranor and Aleecia McDonald from Carnegie Mellon conducted a study recently which repositioned the lack of online privacy as a time issue.

They reported “To read every [online] privacy policy you encountered in a single year would take 76 work days……”

So we all want our time online to be a more private affair, but find it impossible to wade through the policies and figure out what’s what? Further, even if you had the time to read them, would anyone but a Privacy Specialist understand them, and worse, be willing to forgo the benefits brought by Facebook and Google in an effort to maintain some sort of online anonymity? I suspect not in each case.

It’s hard to see how to solve this issue.

At a minimum it would seem appropriate to provide a simplified privacy policy, which would at least encourage consumers to become familiar with the terms they are signing up to. Controlling what your cookies are used for may also be key, Personalisation, yes, targeted advertising, no.

Over time I worry that the role of government will be to reign in on the issue if left unsolved, which would be a bad outcome for all.

Solving service issues.

American Express recently published a report into the impact of Service on Customers, focusing on how the new socially connected consumer behaves versus their less connected counterparts, the findings are startling.

One data point out of the report that should provide cause for concern is that an unhappy Social Media Savvy customer will voice their complaint to 53 of their friends, often through Facebook and other channels.

Amex also report that more than 80% of Online Savvy consumers say they’ve bailed on a purchase because of a poor service experience, compared to 55% overall.

It isn’t all bad news though, customers reported that they would be willing to pay an average of up to 13% more for products and services if the business provided excellent customer service – that’s a healthy return for showing you care.

The report concludes with tips for better service:

1) Great service starts with the people who deliver it – Motivate and enable your employees to go above and beyond for your customers.

2) It’s all about relationships – Good service comes down to forming relationships with customers. Look at customer service as an opportunity to deepen your connection with your customers, not just as a transaction to be completed.

3) Make it easy for customers to do business with you – Listen to your customers and use their feedback to improve your product and service.

4) Exceeding expectations is easier than you think – Customers aren’t unreasonable and don’t except every problem to be solved instantly.  They simply want to be treated like individuals, know that you genuinely care about their issue, and are working hard to address it.

5) Listen to your employees – They are closest to your customers and understand the most about what customers want and need. Don’t miss out on their incredibly valuable insight.

6) Seek opportunities to make an impression – Understand and act on the notion that every customer interaction is an opportunity to create a connection and to drive customer loyalty and engagement

What’s clear is that the service expectation is increasing and consumers expect more than ever to be able engage with businesses directly or via social media when they have a gripe – sadly though, the number of businesses that can engage in this way is relatively flat.

Yabbit is here to provide those capabilities to businesses of all types. Check out yabbit.com to sign up to the Beta commencing early August.

The full report including a nice Infographic is here

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Study finds Facebook Fan Pages are a poor source of consumer engagement

The Ehrenberg-Bass Institute for Marketing Science released a study showing the relationship between Facebook fan pages brand engagement – concluding that Brands should lower their expectations of Fan Page performance.

Facebook Fan Pages include Facebook’s own PTAT (People Talking About This) metric, and that metric was the basis for the study. PTAT as stated is somewhat misleading though given the act of Liking a Brand is included in PTAT.

Once the researchers had removed the impact of the initial Like, they found that only 0.5% of Fans actually engaged with the brand via Facebook on a weekly basis*

In isolation, this seems like an extraordinarily low number, and should cause the majority of Brands investing time and money growing their fan base to rethink. In fact, only 10% of the brands sampled reached 1% engagement, and this was consistent across all categories and included a number of “Passion Brands”.

The engagement value of 0.5% weekly engagement should be used as the baseline when evaluating the return of investment in building a Facebook Fan page, chances are the size of a Brand’s Facebook Fan Page does more for the ego of the Brand stewards than it does for the bottom line!

*Data reproduced from Admap with permission.