So, you had a website built to sell your ‘Must Have Widget’.   All of your friends and family looked at it and went, “WOW! That’s the best website I’ve ever seen. Can I buy a ‘Must Have Widget’ from you now?”

2 months later, you were getting so much traffic to your website from your SEO and SEM campaigns that you had to upgrade your hosting package to deal with the load.  In fact, production of the ‘Must Have Widget’ had to increase in order to meet demand – so was the success of the ‘Must Have Widget’.

Another 2 months later, despite the hype and early success, sales orders started to dwindle…in fact, they almost bottomed out.  The result leaving you with excessive costs and bewilderment as to what went wrong with your now Not that popular Widget.

So what went wrong?  Who knows…but if you don’t, then you weren’t ready to begin with.  Enter the realm of Social Media Marketing and Tracking – or “Sentiment Analysis”.  With the ever increasing usage of tools such as blogs, social networking sites, and even the relative simplicity of building your own website, almost everyone online has a voice and they are happy to scream out their opinions to any one who’ll listen.

Social media now gives internet users the ability to share opinions on things like the ‘Must Have Widget’, often rating its performance and some form of overall satisfaction rating.  With little consequence, ratings can at times be scathing to the point of damaging to products and related sales.  Case in point, when Sony went to market with the PS3 console at the same time as the Nintendo Wii, Sony were waiting for stock to run out the door.  Problem was that the market wasn’t ready, nor interested in a new console yet…the real problem for Sony, however, was that the consumer’s were talking but Sony wasn’t listening.  Sure Sony cared, but they didn’t know how to engage their consumers online and learn what the consumers were saying about their product.  They had no understanding of the “Consumer Sentiment Index” (CSI), which is basically a measure of how hot or cold a market segment is to a given product or service (or person, or belief, or political party…or…etc)

With social media commentary exponentially growing through tools such as; Facebook, Twitter, Foursquare, Digg, etc, it is becoming essential to listen to your consumers and get feedback.  With this knowledge it is a relatively simple exercise to engage your consumers and communicate back to them through their own channels and manage your reputation before it becomes significantly bruised.

Below is a great little sample of tools available to SMB and other internet users to help automate the trawling of  social media networks and assist in the measurement of your CSI.

Matt Chamley – General Manager, Webfirm

Image credit Eliminate Bad Reviews on Flickr

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