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Isentia - Why it’s crucial to know what the world is saying about you

Research First Why You Won’t Remember This Blog

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Why it’s crucial to know what the world is saying about you

It started off as a tongue-in-cheek Facebook post, by a Wellington mother-of-two to her friends about her despair when The Warehouse failed to deliver the dryer she’d paid them for fair and square.

So far, so boring, you might think. But Emily Writes’ story, and her witty writing style, tickled the fancy of her followers and was shared more widely. Before she knew it, it had notched up more than a thousand comments. And then The Warehouse got involved.

We’ve all seen this happen countless times before, and the usual corporate response runs something along the lines of: we’re terribly sorry, please get in touch directly and we’ll sort it out. Blah blah blah.

Not this time. The Warehouse penned an equally witty comment underneath Emily’s post promising to sort it out and adding: “Is it a coincidence that if you rearrange the letters in dryer (then remove some, then add some others) you get desirable? We don't think so."

Their response got thousands of likes and will have generated unmeasurable goodwill among the people who read it. The story was then picked up by the NZ Herald, giving The Warehouse even more positive – and free – advertising.

The speed of communication means that businesses need to be constantly listening to what people are saying about them, both the good and the bad so they can try to keep control of their messaging and story.

This is crucial not just to resolve issues, but also to harness relevant and popular conversations and use them to build responsive relationships with their customers.

The Warehouse struck gold because it answered Emily’s plea in the spirit it was written- showing they understood their audience and demonstrating that they had a heart. But, they couldn’t have done any of this if they weren’t keeping an eye on social media chatter.

So how do you do that? The media intelligence that Isentia can deliver tracks millions of sources, with a focus on local content, using a combination of RSS and other data feeds, as well as custom crawlers, which index social media sites in near real-time.

Like all other types of media, an organisation’s social content is filtered and customised to their exact needs and developing issues. They can get a continuous update, which incorporates social and traditional news outlets, so they can keep track of how an issue is developing across all outlets and channels and respond quickly if necessary. That might mean a phone call to a journalist, a swiftly written media statement or a few well-crafted words on social media.

As the way we communicate continues to evolve, and rapidly, it’s vital that businesses keep up. Not only are New Zealanders keener than ever – and more adept – at seeking out information, they are adept at sharing it too.

Couple this with their high expectations of the businesses they use, and one wrong step can be devastating. Like Emily, they’ll have no qualms about telling the world if the product they’ve bought or the service they received isn’t up to scratch. Social media gives them the means to make or break a company’s reputation and it can take a long time to recover.

Fortunately, social media listening tools can help to nip problems in the bud by monitoring issues before they go haywire. The key for customers who want to be heard is to respond as quickly as possible and in language they can relate to.

Anyone can see how quickly, or slowly, messages are answered on social media and few will be impressed if the responses are late and lethargic.

That doesn’t mean you have to follow The Warehouse’s example and continue the conversation online - a friendly phone call can also diffuse a situation. But businesses might find it worth their while being bold, as Emily was soon back online with a message to say “UPDATE: Check the comments for the amazing response from The Warehouse. They’re the best and soon I will be reunited with my beloved dryer.”

Originally published on The Register.

Research First

Why you won't remember this blog 

If you’re in the business of influencing others (to buy something, to believe something, or to act differently), then it’s critical that you understand how the human brain really works. One of the important lessons emerging from the social sciences is that our intuitions about ourselves and others are often not as accurate or as insightful as we think.

While it feels like you’re reasoning your way through your life, that’s rarely the case. Instead, our brains are wired to take shortcuts, to be influenced by how things are framed, and profoundly shaped by what others are doing. When we talk about knowing something, we really mean experiencing what the neurologist Robert Burton called a “feeling of knowing”.

Part of the puzzle here is that we all rely on our memories to construct our ideas of what the future might look like. And while it feels like our memories are up to the task, they’re not really designed for it. The truth is, we don’t really recall memories so much as reconstruct them from traces distributed throughout the brain. This makes memories what psychologists call ‘plastic’, meaning they can be shaped and reshaped as we replay them.

There is a long list of these memory biases to highlight just how unreliable our memories really but the problem with this line of argument is that it starts from an assumption that our memories should be accurate. That is, the emphasis on remembering obscures the role that forgetting plays for our brains. We tend to think about forgetting as a failure to remember but this misunderstands what our brains evolved to do. The reason you have a memory at all is to help you survive in an uncertain world. Memory exists to optimise decision-making, not to accurately capture and reproduce information.

As the psychologists Blake Richards and Paul Frankland have noted, this means forgetting is just as important to a healthy brain as remembering. This is supported by the fact we tend to forget memories about what happened to us (known as ‘episodic memories’) quicker than we forget memories about general knowledge (known as ‘semantic memories’). The reality is that those episodic memories might just not be very useful from a survival perspective. Which also means that not being able to remember how you know someone might be a feature of our brains and not a bug[1]. It also explains why you’re unlikely to remember this blog, and why I won’t be too offended when you don’t.

[1] If you want to know more about the fallibility of memory, have a look at the work of UCLA’s Bjork Learning and Forgetting Lab ( A great place to start is with Elizabeth and Robert Bjork’s (1996) Memory, Academic Press, San Diego or Daniel Schacter’s (2001) The Seven Sins of Memory, Houghton Mifflin. The point about memory being a decision-making tool to help you survive in an uncertain world comes from Blake Richards and Paul Frankland’s 2017 paper “The Persistence and Transience of Memory” in Neuron, Volume 94, Issue 6, p1071–1084. The point about forgetting being a feature and not a bug is from Angela Chen’s (2017) “The purpose of memory might not be to record everything”, The Verge Jun 21, 2017. 


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