Taking social back to information needs

Posted by Gina Rosenthal in social media | Tagged , | 6 Comments

I’ve had a growing feeling of malaise over the current state of social media. Now that some of the necessary product content work has been set in motion, expect to see me become very active in social again. Not from a rah rah look at my product sort of old-school marketing way….but from a true info science way. I’m interested in the information seeking behavior of our customers – what do y’all need in order to make a buying decision? When do you start your information search? What helps you out? What is lame?

Its why I asked Greg Schulz to help me with Backup.U. One thing I noticed about customers is that they have questions about the practice of backup and recovery. Basic questions – like how do incrementals work? How do I determine what my RPO is? Hell what is RPO?

It is sorta funny – we’ll create all sorts of marketing collateral and we’ll be sure the words the engineers tell us are important are in there. (And when I say “we” I’m talking the entire marketing industry, not just my colleagues).  We’ll have an outside expert write blog posts and be sure to mention how our latest version is the BEST solution to some industry topic.And you better believe we’ll pack that post with all the relevant SEO words so we get tons of hits. That’s what we report on to show everyone how successful our campaigns are after all.

But, what if the customers don’t get it because they don’t understand the basics? What happens if you search for a keyword that you need to understand better and all you get are marketing materials, not a technical resource that can help you make a decision? I’ll tell you what happens, you start relying on blog posts. And Twitter.

My malaise is the same that I had when I started doing social media at EMC. Back then it was shiny and new, and it scared the hell out of upper management. Marketing and PR (with very few exceptions) had no idea how to control it. So “social media experts” came to the rescue – many times locking down how information could be accessed and shared in the process.

The issue I see arising now is different, but it still is impacting how information can be accessed. If marketers rush to “own” keywords, if all they care about are numbers, they will put so much marketing info into the communities they have “discovered”  and it will become exhausting to search for real technical content.

Am I alone here in seeing this shift?

I’ll write more soon about my library science approach to communities and marketing soon. Also lots more to discuss on the ideas of digital divides, and how our sense of self has been impacted by the way tech has shrunk time and space. But right now — moar coffay! 🙂


6 Responses to Taking social back to information needs

  1. Andrew Mauro says:

    Good point, but I think that both technical and “basic” informations are needed.
    And are almost available on the Internet. The main issue maybe is that collect “basic” information need some technical capability and in this some thematic portal may needed (although the portal idea is not so new and already exist some good resources).
    And there are a lot of communities to ask and get anwsers, but again too much or too specialized in specific products but in most cases really well served and active.

  2. gminks says:

    I agree…but where is it? Does it stay up? Is it acceptable and available if someone searches for it (or are all the SEO-ized posts the only thing you can find now). And I’m not sure if one place is what we need – maybe multiple. Its all about how we approach our information needs. I think 😉

  3. Andrew Mauro says:

    Indeed… Maybe is better more info than nothing.
    And must be searchble well.

  4. John Troyer says:

    The optimist says that the seekers will find the technical information they need. We have marketing blogs with 1/10th the traffic of technical blogs, and they sit side-by-side.

    I think you therefore build tools like ebooks, microsites, programs, magazines, blogs, whatever — like Backup.U — to highlight the content that you know customers & prospects need. (The big blogs have long realized that the reverse chronological order of blogs doesn’t serve every need.) And then hopefully have some marketing budget to help people find them!

    I also think you need to be careful of both marketers and marketing agencies for primary content creation and go straight to subject-matter experts internally & externally (like Greg!), because your customers are now trained to tune out whatever an agency has to say.

    You also need to keep the Demand Generation people from overfishing the coral reef and screwing up the utility of what you’ve built with too many ugly ads and calls-to-action.

    But I think you captured it in your first paragraph. How do regular IT people get information and make decisions? Do as much of that as you can figure out.

  5. gminks says:

    it’s more than the optimist that says seekers will find the tech info they need. That’s library science 101. Info is like water, it goes around, over and sometimes through barriers that are put up.
    I agree w you about the rest – it’s all community construction principles. It is possible to ruin a community if information impostors infiltrate it though. How do we help the new brand of “social media marketers” understand the fine line between sharing information and spamming a community with pre-canned messaging?

  6. Pingback: G's view of the world | The new black: controlling the message

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