Dine and whine?
Some people including @JeffJarvis in his great book What Would Google Do? wonder if overtime we don’t all end up as super whiners. The combination of the power that social media provide, examples like the Dell story that demonstrate the benefit of complaining as well as the need felt by so many consumers to be taken seriously might indeed fuel our society to develop a whining culture. Wining and dining then becomes ‘dining and whining’.

Culture of complacency
This risk is fuelled by the current prevailing corporate culture of complacency in too many sectors ranging from airlines, retailers, electronics manufacturers to public sector organisations like your local village or city. The economic recession seems to have had only small shake-out consequences let alone any real shift of perspective on how businesses should engage in improving customer relationships and offer really better products and services. In my home country the Netherlands this could become even worse because of the dutch calvinist perspective on life and the preference to believe ‘the glass is half empty’.

Social Media as corporate conscience
The ROI on Social Media is often questioned, but who can justify the multi million dollar spend of above-the-line advertising in billboards, newspapers and tv? TimesSquare therefore seems to represent the platform of corporate arrogance: my brand is so big we can spend a million per quarter just to get noticed. Yet as Buzz Bishop illustrates in a recent update of the Cyberbuzz blog explains there is room for organisations to really start listening to their key audience and engage in an authentic conversation. Social Media offer this opportunity and could almost act as a corporate conscience. Re-allocating above the line spend to social media expenditure, one could for instance kickstart a nationwide team of dedicated social media superstars to listen to individual consumers’ suggestions, needs and complaints. And then provide real attention which in turn can lead to real improvements in the way that brand is perceived and referred to. Real attention that in today’s manic world has increasingly become  a scarce resource yet to my opinion will be re-appreciated overtime.

The Superpromoter currently seems to be the -all too often exceptional – customer that is not just satisfied but overjoyed with the company he has bought  a certain product or service from. Fathered by Rijn Vogelaar (@Rijn on Twitter), the superpromoter represents a new way of looking at a company’s key assets; its customers. Vogelaar claims it’s way better to focus a company’s attention on superpromoters rather than on dissatisfied customers, and refers to the power of enthusiasm. Reallocating former advertising budgets to social media customer engagement, I would argue also represents a healthy business case. Former superwhiners can indeed by turned into superpromoters, when one has the willigness to really listen and care. What about ROI? The Return of Investment (or perhaps we should rename it into Return of real Interest) will become clear to organisations really giving this their best shot and commit to listening to their customers now and in the long run – not just because it’s cool to be on Twitter or Facebook.

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