Altimeter Group's Brian Solis  is someone we've talked about before on this blog and who often provides great thought leadership on how to engage your customers on the social web.  It is worth flicking through this presentation (below) he gave recently in London, a version of which I saw at a LinkedIn event in Sydney in September (you can watch the video here).  It provides an interesting view of how Social Engagement between brands and their customers is evolving and illustrates the dangers of resting on your Social laurels for too long.

There's a lot of great value to be had from this presentation, beginning with the idea that too many brands track their Social success by using "vanity stats" such as *Like*s and <follow>s when in reality, only true engagement - comments and real conversation - can equate to anything meaningful.  

He then makes the interesting point about the perception gap that exists between marketeers and their customers.  He points to research that demonstrates a howling disconect: "76 per cent of marketers think they know what their customer want; however only 36 per cent of marketers had asked their customer what they want." (Slide 10)

More generally he talks about how Social Media 1.0 is currently in the business of 1-way traffic; marketeers simply transposing their previous methodology onto a new medium without understanding the nature of this new medium.  Because Social is about conversation, he says, endless posting and bombarding the Social customer with scheduled content simply will not work.  Users are turning off brands that wear out the Social welcome mat.  He points to Exact Target research in the UK (slide 11) that tells us that the main reason why people *Unlike* brands is reptitive, boring content - and too much of it!

Brian Solis (Opening Keynote) iStrategy London 2012 from iStrategy

But perhaps the most important point he addresses is the new role Marketeers must adapt to which is to become an "Experience Architect".  Because brand is no longer what the marketing department defines it to be, but instead the sum of the Social conversations about it. Marketeers now need to work to ensure that every experience of the brand - every customer touch point - is consistent with the brand is meant to represent.  As The Connected Customer listens more carfully to what peers say than what the brand says, ensuring that the experience is consistent - and that what is shared is positive - is surely a more important investment than TV Commercials.  No one is listening to the ads on TV anymore!

So Marketeers must address every aspect of how the company interacts with the customer.  By way of an excellent example he broke out a classic - and very illustrative example (slide 32).  Companies often invest a great deal in a QR code that takes people to a web site that isn't optimised for a mobile phone.  The marketeer will most likely say "web site is not my department".  Solis's emphatic point was that it is Marketing's Department.  Every touch point with the customer is Marketing's Department.

But perhaps most powerfully he reminds us that when you engage an audience, you engage an "audience of audiences" - as each social consumer has their own audience of networked consumers with whom they might share their experience of your brand.  Marketeers cannot control how that experience is shared, only what that experience might be.  But using monitoring tools becomes all the more important to better understand how that experience is perceived so that it can be adapted.