Elizabeth Albrycht wrote the excellent post "Don't Become a "Walking Dead" Brand: Listen, Acknowledge, Demonstrate," where she describes three things that must happen if a company is going to embrace social media successfully.
Listen, acknowledge and demonstrate were the three actions Elizabeth suggested a company should undertake.
Listening is primary among the three; customers who write on the web using social media now represent an opportunity for any company. That opportunity ranges from market research, marketing, to public relations, customer service and beyond. A company can monitor what customers think about their products, their competitors, and find ideas that don't currently exist. Or a company can find customers who have a complaint about a company's products.
Jeff Jarvis and Dell Hell demonstrated the value of monitoring what customers think of your company and products to Dell.
What's interesting about acknowledgment is that you don't have to agree with what people request or demand. My case study on Macromedia from the Backbone Media Corporate Blogging Survey 2005 demonstrates this; Macromedia was not able to fulfill a customer's suggestion, but once the company explained why not, the customers and community understood.
As Elizabeth suggests, the third action, making changes based on customer feedback is very rare. In researching the Corporate Blogging Survey in 2005 I asked companies if they were using social media feedback for product development, and the results were limited. Macromedia definitely was, and Microsoft in patches. IBM was definitely not. Today, the results are still limited; Dell is the new notable company for demonstration with its customer engagement strategy and website Ideastorm. My sketch from my days at Backbone on crossing the corporate blogging cultural chasm is just as relevant today as it was three years ago as it relates to companies going through the process of listening to customers and taking actions.
As I research the Fortune 500 for evidence of corporate blogs, one question I will be asking myself and the companies that are using blogs, is a company demonstrating it is making changes based on customer feedback?
I know that 10.6% of the Fortune 500 blog, it would be helpful to understand how many of these companies Listen, Acknowledge and Demonstrate.