The Consumer Matters is the blog of Leslie Grandy, aka Gearhead Gal.  My passion is creating and delivering compelling products that delight customers through simple and elegant user experience design.

Subscribe To My Feed

Follow Me on Pinterest



Read my blog on Kindle



Looking for a job in product innovation or product design? 


example: innovation, product, mobile, design

city, state or zip

Jobs by SimplyHired




Entries in blogs (4)


The State Of The Blogosphere 

Over the last year, since I started this blog, I have learned a lot about social media. One thing I learned is how content syndication helps attract more eyeballs.  I set out to understand what syndication opportunities existed for nobodies like me, and one of the channels I discovered was Technorati. When I joined the team late last year, the company was looking for original content to maintain its SEO ranking and develop a robust advertising model. The serendipity of my timing helped me get exposure for my writing, and awareness for my blog, and helped Technorati adjust to Google's changing page rank algorithm and grow it's ad revenue.  

Like a lot of things in social media, the effort hasn't yet made either of us an abundance of wealth. That said, at least from where I sit, on balance it has been a win-win, which seems like a reasonable goal for activity on the new frontier of media. 

This year, Technorati's annual State of the Blogosphere report focuses on women who blog, like me. One "important trend is the influence of women and mom bloggers on the blogosphere, mainstream media, and brands. Their impact is perhaps felt most strongly by brands, as the women and mom blogger segment is the most likely of all to blog about brands." Hear here!

"In addition to conducting our blogger survey, we interviewed 15 of the most influential women in social media and the blogosphere," Technorati reports today in its introduction to the multi-part series. 

I am honored to be a part of the 15 women who Technorati deemed worthy of interviewing for this series, which I am told will be posted on Friday. In the meantime, you can access a great video interview with Charlene Li, a woman on the forefront of social media trends, whom I met when she was an analyst at Forrester. 

Read more:


Why Being a Mensch Matters in Social Media

A recent year-end post by Guy Kawasaki on American Express's Open Forum highlighted twelve tips on how to be a mensch, a Yiddish term that is synonymous with being a person of integrity or honor. Each item on the list is built on a variation of the Golden Rule, and that makes for a great checklist for social brands. After all, it's a barter economy out there in the Twitterverse and blogosphere, and in order to receive, you need to give. And, of course, authenticity is the difference between making noise and creating meaning for brands on any platform.

I've taken the twelve resolutions and have tried to match them to lessons from the last 5 months I've spent exploring social media. Hopefully, in the spirit of karma that underlies this list, I hope you'll find something useful here.

Give people gifts other than those that you buy.  Thank people for enlightening you with a good post. Comment on their blogs, and tell them you appreciate them by a re-tweet. Credit them when you use their material.

Become a talent hunter.  Explore your followers.  Find people who have something to teach you. Seek out global experts and small businesses because, after all, it's the world wide web and a bad economy. It's a buyer's market for free agent talent. Reviews and references make it easier to find someone qualified to do business with, so there is no excuse not to strike gold through social media.

Sharing ideas and information that can enrich.  It's too easy to write a snarky post, a cheap headline or perpetuate a rumor. Anyone can be a critic. But taking the effort to be constructive and productive will pay dividends by creating more valuable discussions with your customers.

Spend more time in the “beginner’s mind.”  Who doesn't want to hear 'I can relate'? Empathy is a powerful emotion for brands that engage in social media. Whether you engage in customer support online or want to impress your customers with how innovative you are, consumers just don't have the time to figure out why or how you want to interact with them. Make it simple to find you, talk to you and enjoy your service.

Don’t tell people what they can’t do. When social media inspires audiences to act for causes you can appreciate the power of the positive. Mobilizing fans, followers and friends to act is the big win in social media. It's about motivation.

Minimize the space you take up.  This seems contrary to the goal of growing fans and followers, but in fact it can be the secret to building a big audience. A well written comment on another expert's blog post, a tagged video or a carefully edited tweet can end up reaching orders of magnitude more folks thanks to the power of sharing that is foundational to social media. You don't have to shout to be heard across the web. However, you do need to contribute something valuable so everyone will want to share it. 

Become a relationship anthropologist. Understanding what makes your audience tick will help you engage with them on the platforms and in the ways that are most convenient for them. Understanding how groups behave will help you develop and support communities that will ultimately grow your business. It's a relationship, so lshow you listen.

Get rid of grudges.   Social media does a great job of keeping companies honest about the service they provide or the quality of care they show their customers. Reviews and ratings and comments live on forever, even after a company has tried to make amends. The best advice is for brands not to allow a grudge to develop in social media forums, because forgiveness usually doesn't come with a written retraction. 

Be happy for others.   If you highlight other's wins, you make it easier for them to highlight yours. If you are a start-up CEO, share lessons on a blog or encourage other entrepreneurs with your feedback. If your customers are loyal, reward their satisfaction. Pay attention to the joy others have, because people share when they are happy, and who doesn't want happy customers?

Help others caress the rainbow. It takes a village to be successful, and just like you need help with your start-up or need to grow your audience, so do others. Social technologies are all about sharing the wealth, paying it forward and not hoarding traffic or monopolizing the conversation.

Make people feel better about themselves. Consumers like to choose brands that make them feel they can fulfill their aspirations. The voice that a brand uses  across social media can turn someone off in an instant. Your customers won't engage if they feel reprimanded or rebuffed for trying to connect with you.

View all promises you made in 2009 as an unpaid debt.  You've amassed fans on Facebook and MySpace, you've created a mobile app, you tweet company news, but have you created any new value for your customers through social media yet? If not, it's time...






Majority of Internet Users Don't Share

CXP2WR2VBQHG - A recent report by eMarketer on the trends in user-generated content indicates that less than half of the world's Internet users maintain a social networking profile or upload photos and videos to a website. In addition, with more than 130 million blogs indexed by Technorati, less than 13% of US users surveyed engaged in writing a blog.

See the complete story on Technorati by clicking here.

And if you are wondering about the funky alphanumeric at the start of this post, Technorati elves are using it and you can ignore it.


Permission to Speak?


According to the recent report, The State of the Blogosphere 2009, published by Technorati, 70% of bloggers say they blog as a form of self expression, and the experience gives them an outlet for their passion around topics that matter to them. Clearly, Gearhead Gal is a part of that resounding majority, as I am passionate about enjoying and creating great consumer product and service experiences. But in truth, the subject matter has been as much a means to an end for me, and despite my being part of the long tail of writers in the blogosphere, my initial reason for starting this site were not the ones highlighted in the report as one of the most popular ones.

Technorati State of the Blogosphere 2009

Why DIY?

Since more and more individuals are creating personal online journals, hobbyist sites, and grassroots communities without the aid of interactive agencies or IT departments, I decided to experience the process of designing and creating my own web destination. From registering a name to establishing a location for my site to live to page layout and content creation, I wanted to roll around in the insights, tools, downloads, communities and product reviews that exist on the web and do the ultimate DIY effort. No teams of people. I just wanted to use my existing skills and some time. My goal was also to see how little investment I could make in cash to do this and how much “traffic” I could generate by spending time with social media tools to promote the site.

I set only a few rules:

  1. No manuals, no "...for Dummies" books, and no classes
  2. No cheap tricks for traffic or loyalty.
  3. Be authentic.

A moment to disclose a few more details about myself to help contextualize my experience and confess where I may have a head start on the average consumer who could attempt the same exercise. I have never had an HTML class, or owned an HTML for Dummies book. And, although I learn from reading I mostly like to learn by doing. I have worked in technology for 16 years, but I am not an engineer or software developer. In our household, I am the one that serves as the home IT manager, setting up the wireless network or Wii and configuring new PCs. In Geoffrey Moore terms, I am an early adopter of technology. My husband is a laggard. Consequently, my expectations for technology experiences are high, but I tend to think like a mainstream consumer. When I interact with new products and services, I just want them to operate intuitively, and to be able to enjoy innovation without frustration, hassle, or a disproportionate amount of time to figure out how to get things running.

Lesson 1

Not sure what I’d learn first hand, I set out with an open mind, taking tips from folks along the way. This multi-part series will chronicle my experience and help share my lessons. And the first lesson is: What you learn isn't always what you expect to learn.

Stay tuned.