Nov 30

The Case for Keeping Social Media Human: Rethinking Sentiment Algorithms and Automation

This week I had the pleasure of attending a talk led by Ariel Dos Santos, MIT Sloan alum and current social marketing manager at Microsoft. When one thinks of Microsoft, the last thing that comes to mind is innovation in social media marketing.  However, Ariel shed a light on just how Microsoft is changing its culture and redefining social media. By recounting his experiences and beliefs in how social media should work, Ariel is redefining what social media should mean to Microsoft and other companies.


The Marketing Metrics For Social Media


In a powerful corporation like Microsoft the focus is always on improving the bottom line and measuring your results.  The challenge found in social media is that it is hard to measure and quantify it exactly with a dollar figure. Gabriel explained how he has sought to create a different line of thinking within Microsoft. He has defined his teams social value by creating a social media  quadrant that includes social’s effect on business, relationship, community and content metrics. When he presents his finding to the executive team, he is able to pull from these more tangible key performance indicators to show the progress and effect of the team. Gabriel may not always be able to display a hard bottom line figure but the effect is nevertheless measurable and significant. Over a short period of time, Gabriel’s group has made a powerful positive impact through their social media strategy and new culture.


As a result, he has quickly gotten the needed buy in from management to grow the team and show their various successes along the way. Now Microsoft is present and proactive in responding to users needs on Facebook and Twitter. Authentic interactions are being held in these social channels between Microsoft users and staff that are redefining how people see Microsoft. Instead of just a distant cold corporation, what now is being demonstrated is the human side of Microsoft. Social media has helped the giant return to its roots and address the greater needs of the computing world.


The Beauty and Curse of Social Media


At business school one is taught to build a business through prototyping and then mastering a successful framework that is repeatable and scalable in order to reap large profits. This line of thinking has led to many of our greatest manufacturing feats and companies over the years. Many companies within the social media sphere have applied this same line of scale thinking. By creating complex algorithms, companies respond to an individual’s comments through auto created responses. These responses tend to be a poor barometer and response mechanism. It shows that the company is not involved and does not sincerely care about the consumers’ needs and wants.


As Gabriel succinctly stated, “what makes social media great is the human interaction involved.” There is no sentiment algorithm or scalable substitute.  In order to run a successful and responsive social marketing strategy for a company, you need interactive human support. Human interaction is what defines social media. In order to have a successful and sustainable social media strategy, you have to strengthen, maintain, and expand this bond with your consumer base.

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