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June 10th, 2008

Avoiding the Perception WarpMisleading Customer Chatter on the Web

Alright, so there’s all sorts of assumptions companies make about social media these days, one of the most dangerous of which is the assumption that the feedback, opinions and insights people share online are absolutely representative of their customer base.

Be careful about walking into this particular perception warp, it’s very easy to fall into and terribly difficult to escape.

Yeah, there’s a ton of valuable customer feedback to be gathered and analyzed on the web, however, more often than not, that feedback is coming from what’s best described as, well, a vocal minority. The perception warp is believing this group of customers online reflects the opinions, attitudes and experiences of all your customers (e.g., the much, much larger silent majority).

I was reminded of this recently on a client project where we were analyzing commenter registrations on the company’s blog. Our WordPress admin page showed thousands of comments and thousands of registrants, but as we chopped up the user data, we found that about 40 commenters accounted for nearly a third of the total comments.

I’ve seen very similar patterns on other projects, and generally speaking, I think there’s plenty of evidence to support the fact that the ratio of writers to readers online is wildly disproportionate. And unfortunately, once again, it’s one of those unique challenges that falls onto the laps of those who manage social media programs to determine just how much weight to put on the collective customer feedback culled from the web; also I suppose, how influential (or not) your vocal minority of customers are to your silent majority of customers.

About the Author
Mike Manuel is the GM of Voce Connect, the social media marketing and web development arm of Voce Communications. In between managing this team and overseeing Voce's digital programs, he'll post a thought or two on mike-manuel.com and via @mmanuel on Twitter.

Filed in Marketing, Public Relations, Social Media

Add Your Comment1 Response to “Avoiding the Perception WarpMisleading Customer Chatter on the Web”

Josh Hallett on June 11th, 2008 at 8:39 am

I think it’s worth repeating that those 40 people represent a very, very, very small percentage of total commenters, and an even smaller percentage of total readers.