Amazon and Social Business: #Fail

My position on social media is pretty straight forward. I do believe that we face unprecedented opportunity today to strategically extend our businesses and improve customer experiences using emerging technologies.  Digital and social media, including the web, mobile, tools and apps are an essential part of this.  However, I don't view social media as an anathema, and there’s no one-size-fits-all formula for success.

We live in an era where 10% of web tasks fail completely (and I'd say that's a conservative estimate).  The potential down-side of the 10% task failure alone is massive.   When we add mobile, apps, social media and maintenance tools and attempt to manage the dynamics of authorization, privacy and user behavior, we are forced to manage brand new task dynamics that complicate not only stand-alone web execution, but how we do business within the cloud.  Putting it all together and making it work (well) is a daunting task that is an ongoing, somewhat experimental journey for most companies.

How we will approach, harness and manage the channels and tools and the dynamics they create for users -- as well as within the enterprise  -- is a real challenge for businesses small and large.  However, regardless of the tools we use, there's got to be some clear picture of how they will be used  --- BEYOND marketing and PR purposes – to strategically extend, listen, learn and respond to the people we serve.

This is a central theme in an article I posted today at Marketing Profs, which evaluates Amazon’s use and integration of social media.  You can read “Why Amazon Doesn’t Understand Social Commerce” here.  One of the key areas of examination in my research was using social media to identify and respond to “point-of-need” mentions, which are defined as individual mentions, comments, or messages that express an explicit or implicit desire for a brand's attention, consideration, action, or response on the open social grid.  I believe getting a handle on these point-of-need issues and figuring out how to manage them effectively across channels is one of the best ways to latch on to social media success.  After all, this is what people expect.  For example, check out this this chart US Consumer Preferences for Company Use of Social Media from Customer Think’s July 2009 Customer Survey.

After spending almost 20 years in emerging media, I can’t help but reject a lot of the hype and misinformation that circulates today – and there is a LOT out there. At times, my neck hurts from shaking my head over companies positioning the use of emerging technology in a manner that is unfortunate and terribly short-sighted.   What hurts the most, however, is when a brand I respect gets so big, it begins to sacrifice watching and listening on the altar of automation and efficiency.  This destroys their ability to learn and apply critical thinking, damages customer relationships and contributes to the kind of business apathy and atrophy that destroys customer experience over time.  That's why, if we care, we should speak up. 


While the Amazon article is a bit long winded in its analysis, contains illustrative screen shots, charts and analysis, completed with the help of my friends at Radian6.   We hope this will help illustrate (not with surgical precision but as a base of consideration) the missed opportunity Amazon may be ignoring and serve as food for thought for other companies.   It is my sincere hope that the ideas presented -- along with your commentary (please leave some!!) --  will encourage Amazon to reconsider its approach to the social grid!


Pablo Edwards said...

Thanks for passing along the articles. I have taken a liking toyour blog, because I love your straightforwardness. Thanks for being upfront and honest on your views and opinions, that's all we, the reader, can ask for.

Unknown said...

@Pablo, thank you for reading and commenting! I really appreciate your engagement and encouragement! :-)

Melody206 said...

Hi Leigh,
I found my way to the lengthy Amazon article, and totally agree that the "feed" style of Amazong twitter profile is pretty backwards, for what was once a nimble company. And Amazon is here in Seattle!!!

Generally speaking the topic of how larger brands use social media interests me, and how they attempt to control, or guide content that they have no real control over. The larger the brand, the more resources needed to manage the many customers tugging at them on social media platforms. But it's too much of a risk to ignore that, like as if those people knocking on the door will walk away when it looks like all the lights are on. They'll just leave annoyed!

The larger the

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I’m Leigh Durst, a 20 year veteran in business, operations, customer strategy, ecommerce, digital & social media and marketing. Simply put, I’m a strategist that helps companies (start-up to blue chip) achieve business shift, create more compelling online and offline experiences. I also write, speak and teach about experience design and next-generation business. I’m a futurist, visionary, strategist, doer and connector with a passion for people and helping others. When I’m not on the road, you’ll find me in the San Francisco bay area, working, beaching it and hanging out with my family and dog.


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