Interesting ways to use the collaborative web

In the more recent years, the web has reclaimed its nature of being collaborative- the way it was meant to be in the first place.

There are collaboration tools galore- some that have achieved fame as the collective noun- “social network”. Some others including the social network form what has come to be known as the “social media”

Wait. Before you think this going to be a shpeel on social media and its importance (It IS important though) let me declare otherwise now.

What I do want to highlight though, is the fact that today the web is full of collaborative tools that could be used by businesses in a variety of ways- some that encourage connect-ability and yet others that thrive on rationalizing the wisdom of crowds.

There are comparison and review sites that attempt to give rational advice- say on specifications and even price points. And then there are blogs and other engagement tools that people so freely use to express, discuss and activate about a subject. Not only this, the collaborative web today can even get inside the mind of people- when people speak their minds in the high reach and safe anonymity of the web.

The great things about these tools is that they can be manipulated by companies in a myriad of ways to not only to connect and collaborate, but also listen to what the market is saying about them. It can help them get some of those elusive customer insights for which they spend hundreds of thousands of dollars and still feel, well…somewhat blank.

To establish context, I showcased one such popular tool- called BrandTags on recently. It is a collaborative experiment to assess people’s perception of brands- what’s the first thing that comes to their mind when they think of the brand. Something that the ad guys are quite used to doing while planning communication strategies (unaided recall or brand personification type studies)

To show that it can be used a little beyond frivolous interpretation (though it has quite a following), I conducted a basic perception audit. I chose some top computer brands and analyzed the outputs from the tool.

I plotted top 30 tags that the crowds cumulatively attributed to the brand and divided them into positive, negative and neutral mentions. The ones that referred to a brand name or a product were categorized neutral. Ones with positive or negative connotations were then labelled similarly. It was not as easy as it sounded though- how do you classify “cheap” for example? And how do you classify “India” or “China” as tags? Remember these are largely ‘western’ perspectives (I classified countries as neutral though).

When I published the first post, I wanted micro analysis done. I had many brands and models in the consideration set- but soon realized that (A) the tool was not meant to be micro enough to give model specific response (B) Fewer (top) brands analysis will do just fine- to showcase the kind of inferences that could be drawn.

Now, as you read the analysis post, you will realize that the insights are far from scientific and do not offer detailed insights. But the fact is- when you use more such tools together, it is then that they have the potential to deliver more insights. A simple example could be combining this tool with a tool that collates Net Promoter Score- leveraging the Crowd wisdom.

I also mention that listening and leveraging the collaborative tools can help brands develop engagement strategies best suited to engage their stakeholders.

See the analysis of brands like HP, Dell, Lenovo, Acer and Apple. Some astonishing results and some others that you’d probably be expecting anyways. Tell me what you think about them. What are the other ways in which this can be used? Any other similar tools that you have come across? I’d love to know, experiment and spread.
Happy New Year to all readers.


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