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Sears: Producer or Conductor?

We’ve been discussing the difference between a social producer vs. conductor. Now we will examine the attributes of a brand that define it as a producer vs. conductor.

ZDnet reports: Sears Holdings Corporation (SHC) has been a silent giant in social media for some time. Its online community now boasts more than 300,000 users and it was one of the first major retailers to adopt OpenID to connect MySears.com directly from major social networks. The company has been injecting social into most of its brands, which, in addition to well-known Sears, include KMart, Lands End and Orchard Supply Hardware. It hasn’t always been a pretty story, as Sears has suffered some online woes as well, most recently a defaced group of product pages on the Sears Web site. However, the company credits an existing social media presence with helping them deal with that crisis swiftly by allowing immediate engagement with its customer community.

Rob Harles, vice president of community for Sears Holdings Corporation states: We are one of the only retailers – and the only one of our size – that’s created online communities specifically for our customers . The goal of these communities is to connect with our customers. We offer discussion forums to facilitate questions and answers between customers and associates, an ideas platform to hear what new innovations are most important and product reviews written by customers. The communities also offer an opportunity to address customer service issues. We offer members information about sales, deals, discounts and access to unique coupons and specials for their participation.

Producer or Conductor?

In an earlier post titled Social Producer or Conductor: Comparison we described the differences between the two.  Using this comparison we’ll provide some commentary on which label applies to Sears based on their thinking, message, marketing, use of social technology and intents.

Please keep in mind that these observations are just opinions based on what we see. The decision on whether to label Sears as a producer or conductor ultimately rest with the buyer and the marketplace, you.

First we looked at their site traffic (sears.com) to see if what they are doing, socially speaking, is pulling more people to their presence on the web. The data reflected by the Alexa chart shows a decline in visitors with exception of December which show a surge during traditional holiday shopping.

Second we assessed how they think based on they are saying about the marketplace, people and use of social media. Lets start with what appears to be the intent of mysearscommunity.com. A few questions & observations.

  1. Why would buyers want to log into yet another community and create content for the benefit of a brand?
  2. Why do brands think we are their customers when in fact buyers are not owned by any one brand?
  3. What, if any, is the value proposition or differential that Sears offers people that they can’t get anywhere else?
  4. The Sears site seems to reflect an intent to capture and contain people’s interest rather than enable people to fulfill an intent related or non-related to Sears intent.
  5. Does Sears actions and transparent aims reflect an aim to produce for themselves or does it provide value that enables people to reach their aims?

A social conductor is an individual or organization that enables people to use their organization to achieve wants, needs and desires. The opposite is a social producer who uses people to create  direct benefits to their organization.  Which one is Sears? You decide?

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