Social Media May Increase Awareness, But Will It Increase Acumen?

In a recent article in Manufacturing & Logistics IT from i2 SCL contributors on Social Marketing & Supply Chain Management: The Next Consumer Data Challenge and Opportunity, the authors quote a recent Forrester Research report that states that three of four adults who go online in the US are leveraging social content on a regular basis and state that it’s a resounding yes that retailers and consumer product companies can leverage these tools and the demand signals they render to better run their supply chains.

I’m not sure I entirely agree. First of all, the concept of “social intelligence” is still much more nebulous than “business intelligence”, which is still quite nebulous and not always a successful endeavour (and, historically, BI projects are famous for low success rates, high costs, and time overruns). How can you leverage what you don’t understand?

Secondly, the social media marketplace is scattered. Some of your customers will be on MySpace, some on Facebook, some on Linked-in, some on Twitter, some on Ning, and some on dozens of other sites. Unless you can be everywhere, you could be missing a sizeable portion of your customer base. And even if you are, that’s still only 75% of on-line customers. What about the rest?

Thirdly, most users are quiet unless they have something to gripe about. So while you’ll likely have no problems getting feedback on everything your customers don’t like, you’ll likely have limited feedback on what they like and your surveys will be skewed. That doesn’t make for good decision making.

Any differing opinions?

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