Challenger brands are the first to adopt community management technologies according to the global CEO of Lithium Rob Tarkoff, while incumbents take the role of digital prey through their own sense of complacency.
This premise is supported by Forrester’s vice president and principal analyst Nigel Fenwick who says that in the next 10 years the business world will be largely divisible into digital hunters and digital prey.
And when you apply the two men’s thinking, it’s the successful brands that will have the most trouble adapting to the new dynamic. A dynamic Tarkoff terms the age “of extreme customer expecations”.
“There are certain companies that still hold this view that they can declare the brand experience like Apple and Nike. And I think Apple’s suffering from that,” says Tarkoff.
“If you’re comfortably in the lead, and you feel like you have rich, deep connections with your customers, then you will adopt an if it’s not broken I’m not going to fix it mentality. With a lot of leaders, I think that’ll catch up to them.”
To the contrary, brands that have suffered in the court of public opinion in the past are more likely to be rapid adopters of community management products such as those offered by Lithium.
“It goes back to that insight and understanding about the customers through different means . . . Companies are starting to understand that building a platform to engage customers is a discipline, in the same way that customer relationship management was a discipline or even enterprise resource planning is a discipline,” says Tarkoff.
Forrester’s Fenwick agrees and says it applies to digital adoption more broadly. “I use the analogy of the first car you buy. You know it’s a real old banger and you decide to bolt a spoiler on the back and paint racing stripes down the side. Companies are taking the same approach to digital and it’s just not going to work.”
Community managers are also starting to discuss metrics beyond those only significant if you’re a community manager, like my post count went up, to general business metrics, like traffic or revenue?
“Nobody’s talking about CHI (Community Health Index), they’re talking about traffic conversion, comparison of media types . . . we’re now in that mainstream metric discussion,” says Tarkoff.
Lithium, which helps companies manage their online communities, counts Telstra among its top ten customers globally because it realised that its customers could serve as the best shield from other customer’s anger and pain. Telstra and Fox Sports were both recognised as global leaders by Lithium at its annual conference last week.