As consumers or as business people, we use the social web to answer questions and solve problems about products, services, and businesses.
For so many of us, Twitter or Facebook have become the primary sources for answers. Tweet first; research later.
Patty Seybold often reaches out for help on Twitter and Facebook: “Can’t access Verizon Wireless voicemail from Europe, any clues?” or “Time Warner Internet down in Boothbay, anywhere else?” or “What’s the best XXXX product for doing YY?”
I personally prefer forums and communities. They’re focused, not so noisy, and they sometimes have notifications facilities. For instance:
The forums on Apple products—iPhone, iPad, and the various Macs—are great for “crowd-sourcing” answers on “how to” questions about using these products.
The mycarstats.com forum helps me diagnose and resolve problems with my 1999 Volvo before I take it to Frank, my mechanic. I replaced the antenna mast myself with help from the forum.
The experts in the communities on davesgarden.com have answered many of my questions about plants and plant care for my very heavily shaded property in Massachusetts. I’ll be planting Astilbe and Hosta this year.
How Do You Collect and Respond to Social Queries?
The fact that customers and prospects are buzzing about their issues, asking questions, and looking for recommendations and advice via the social web creates a problem and an opportunity for most companies. The problem is obvious: how do you know what customers are asking/saying about your brand/and your products if you’re not monitoring the social web? The opportunity is equally obvious: if you can spot and respond quickly to customers’ social queries, you gain their respect and their admiration. Not surprisingly, there are products your organization can use to help take advantage of this opportunity. We call this category of products “social-service” solutions.