Social Sigma = Better Pizza

A story. Domino's Pizza took hits over the last two years: 1) gross-out videos posted on YouTube by employees "tampering" with the food (don't ask), and 2) harsh customer criticism of the company's pizza on social networks. The company's CEO decided to go on the offensive, firing and suing the wayward employees and using social to develop a better pizza. I call the latter tactic Social Sigma -- using digital feedback to improve products. 

Did it work? Phil Lozen, the social media specialist at Domino's, reports that customers have been thrilled with the company's honesty and candor. If you watch some of their videos and TV spots, they highlight tough social critics who blogged and tweeted about cardboard crust, ketchup sauce, and bland, boring pizza. “Sometimes it was difficult to hear,” said Chris Brandon, a Domino’s PR manager, “but ultimately it’s what inspired us.” It worked:  the company's Q3 2010 revenue was up 15% over last year.

A few Forresterites and I  ordered Domino's pizza today (shown at left). Scores were high across the board (an average of 8 out of 10)  with words like "impressive," "fresh," "not greasy," and "very surprising" spoken all around. I have three boys so I've consumed a lot of pizza over the last ten years -- Domino's satisfied my tuned palate. 

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Social Sigma Rising

Social Sigma is the use of social networks to improve products and services. I first talked about it here. I counseled CEOs to pay attention -- social will represent an important new font of data and feedback for product development and refinement.
 
Forrester's data reveals the growth of social critiques -- the front end of Social Sigma. 6% of online Americans post ratings and reviews of products at least monthly, up from 5% last year. 25% of online adults read these ratings and reviews at least monthly. The trend is more pronounced for young consumers aged 25-34, 32% of whom use reviews every month to make purchase decisions.
 
As shown in Forrester's graphic on the left, consumers are using diverse channels, led by Facebook, to voice their opinions online. 
 
What does all of this mean about Social Sigma for large companies?
 
1) Tune in. This may sound obvious. But Forrester estimates that one in five companies do not participate in the social realm, and another one in three have no coordinated social strategy. This means that more than half of you are unprepared to handle Social Sigma. Companies work in three dimensions -- social needs to become the fourth.
 
2) Tune in lots of stations. As shown above, social feedback isn't restricted to one or two sources -- you're going to have to listen to a wide variety of sites to create a full picture.
 
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Perspective On Zuckerberg

Quickly: Mark Zuckerberg's skills as a CEO are overrated.

Content: What can Mark Zuckerberg, CEO of Facebook, teach other CEOs? Not very much. To date, he is a one-trick pony -- a leader who has expertly refined and polished one very, very big idea -- remaining unproven beyond the borders of that idea.

Zuckerberg's media profile vastly overshoots his abilities. David Kirkpatrick’s The Facebook Effect describes him as ". . . a natural CEO" and ". . . a visionary business leader." In the October issue of Vanity Fair, Zuckerberg is named No. 1 in the magazine’s power ranking of the New Establishment, just ahead of Steve Jobs, the leadership of Google, and Rupert Murdoch. The magazine declares him “Our new Caesar.” The movie The Social Network portrays him as the successor to Bill Gates.
 
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