Competitive advantage in social media: Carpe Diem Stupid!

APC Back-UPS ES 500 surge protector

R.I.P. after 6 years of use

Yesterday one of the surge protectors in my house, the Back-UPS 500 from APC, finally gave up on me after 6 years. Since I’m using another surge protector from Belkin to protect other electronic devices already, I ran over to Office Depot to buy replacement for the APC.

I ended up buying a Belkin.

As I was driving home I started thinking about why I bought a Belkin surge protector and not another one from APC. My conclusion was that I think I got ‘primed’ to buy Belkin because I simply liked (looks and price) the other one I have at home more than my older one from APC. I also think that the fact that the APC one died one me affected my decision.  A product that breaks down on you isn’t going to inspire you to buy the same one.

Anyhow, when I arrived at Office Depot and went over to where the surge protectors are, I didn’t even think about APC as an option. I went straight for the Belkin. Didn’t even check out any of the other brands that were there.

Now, I’m not a fan of Belkin. Nor of APC. This was a buying decision based purely on in-the-moment need.

Reflecting on this also brought up other thoughts, like what if I had posted a message to Twitter saying that ‘my @apcnorthamerica surge protector died on me’. What would have happened? Would APC had done anything about it? Do they know that their equipment has a 10 year warranty? Do they know who I am? Do they know that I’ve had this particular model for 6 years?

Evidence suggests they don’t know any of this and would have done nothing.

But here’s where things get interesting: Would @Belkin had done anything? Like suggesting one of their own products and letting me know that it isn’t not going to die on me? Heck would they had offered me a discount in the moment just to entice me to buy one of theirs?

If APC had a team in place that monitors conversations/mentions about it’s brand, like this hypothetical conversation, would they had come back with a counter offer to keep me as their customer?

If they understood the person behind @jorgebarba, they would easily deduce that I’m a heavy social media participant and contributor. They would also note that I’m into technology, and that at some point was an IT Consultant and look for electronic devices consistently. That I have a growing personal blog where I sometimes post my own experiences. That I have a company where we focus on customer experience. Etc, etc, etc… (Even if they didn’t have me on their database with a few minutes of research they could easily come up with this information)

This would have been an excellent opportunity to create word of mouth!

Wishful thinking aside, this is a real scenario. Real not in a sense that it happened, but it could happen. And should happen. Let me explain…

In a world where the customer experience extends online, where people have a one-to-many communication, where businesses can track and monitor a person’s activities, where companies can have certain know-how about a particular person; it should be common sense for companies to adopt this type of behavior.

It’s these types of conversations that Senior Leaders should be having inside their war rooms. These scenarios are real. But it seems everyone is waiting for them to happen to them before they react.

The tools to take advantage of these opportunities are already here. You just have to be aware and…

Seize the opportunity to lead the sheep away

If a competitor drops the ball (like ignoring a customer on public social media channels), you take advantage (offering your alternative) of this moment to advance. Situations like these are very common, not just in social media, why more companies are not aware of this is beyond me.

These are new channels that, like every channel, come with a trial-and-error period. Mistakes will be made by you and others. And opportunities will be seized. Paying attention to what people are talking about (monitoring), tracking your mentions and relevant keywords, understanding and knowing who your customers are, provide you with an opportunity to capture mind share and market share.

Sometimes the way to create temporary competitive advantage is by taking advantage of your competitors mistakes. And in the digital world, where things move fast, opportunities to make a difference are opening up as you read this. Competitors might already be a step ahead of you. You can too but only if you seize the opportunity.

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