Information overload for online brands

Information overload. It’s something we all suffer from on a daily basis. A decade ago you probably didn’t have to cope with hundreds of emails a day. Now it has become normal, but there is not suddenly more time in the day.

This is the challenge facing companies that are selling products or services that are well known and are discussed online. Everyone used to have discussions about their favourite cola drink, or favourite snack, or which phone company they really dislike, but those conversations were generally private and lost into the ether once complete.

Now they are being captured online as people chat more openly about their life in various social networks – a great opportunity for companies to see which products people are talking about and to potentially target a highly receptive audience.

But it also leads to an immense amount of data that someone has to sift through. If I Google the phrase “Coca Cola” I can see more than 156,000,000 results – and that is presumably with a lot of repeated references automatically removed by Google.

A new study exploring the implications for marketing chiefs highlights this problem. 82% of them still use traditional market research tools and only 40% have really explored how to use the online world to market their products.

Consumer brands like Coca Cola are using intelligent online interactions heavily, but a huge number of companies you might expect to be more visible online are just not there – overwhelmed by the sea of chattering voices.

I’m not sure of the answer, but it is clear to me that customers appreciate it when brands interact during a negative discussion – people complaining about a product.

This proactive interaction is an area of customer service that is going to develop fast so those who do feel overwhelmed need to start taking some steps to explore what is going on. If they wait until the competition has mastered the art of online conversations then it will be too late for them to start.


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