Marketing Academics Pt.5

Marketing Academics Pt.5

Customer Service

The potential for the facilitation of customer service community building is probably the greatest value and risk of current social networks. This section will deal with the pros and the cons of the commercial use of social networks.


  • Help forge community with, and among, would-be customers. In 2006, about 1,750 new owners of MINI Coopers where joining the corporate online “lounge” each month; “our very best salespeople are MINI owners, and they like talking about their cars” (King, Rachael).
  • A handful of companies have found creative ways to harness social networks. About 70% of all questions on the Quicken forum are answered by other customers, rather than Intuit employees (King, Rachael).
  • As promoted by marketing guru Seth Godin and corroborated by CEO Debbie Landa, social networks offer a unique combination of conversational and permission marketing. When a customer or potential customer joins a social network, they are in fact, giving the “brand” permission to provide them with information or promotional offers. The combined element of conversational marketing gives a social network an exponentially greater advantage over almost any other form of marketing. The mere ability to facilitate brand-tribe development is what makes the difference between a category leader and everything else (Reis, Al; Trout, Jack).
  • A social network dedicated specifically to consumer-generated media (CGM) is This site encourages “members to comment on lifestyle trends, allow them to share their love of luxury brands, make recommendations on the best products and services to buy, and the best events to attend” (Marketing Week). offers a sample of social network market segmentation, specifically catering to a luxury niche: high income-online-community seeker.
  • One of the most notable customer service offerings made possible by social networks is in book retailing; “in January [2007], eBay…made a deal with Facebook Inc., …users can now search for books on Facebook, and join a group associated with the page” (Vara, Vauhini).
  • An extremely important consideration to the totality of marketing is trend analysis. The usage of social networks is currently growing faster than the ability to conduct relevant research through many periodicals. In the same edition of The Wall Street Journal (March 1, 2007), eBay traffic was reported to “dwarf that of MySpace, Facebook, and Bebo”. For the month of January, eBay had a traffic of 80 million, with MySpace at 61 million, Facebook at 19 million and 3.6 million for Bebo (Vara, Vauhini). Two important distinctions need to be made. Quality over quantity. Using traffic monitor, by February of 2007, both Facebook and Myspace passed eBay in total (not unique) visits, and in November of the same year, Facebook surpassed Myspace in visits. Considering the social networks that are now more visited, or at least have more loyalty, can a social network’s potential for customer service be discounted any longer? If a measure of customer service is loyalty, social networking may be a company’s best tool.
  • The music industry, once the evangelists against free music distribution, is singing a different tune to social networks. In June, EMI announced a deal with SNOCAP, a music technology company, to sell songs without copyright protection through artists’ websites, fan blogs and social networking pages (Chaffin, Joshua).

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