A Challenge And An Opportunity: An Interview With Andrew Grill, CEO, PeopleBrowsr UK


Internationally renowned speaker and CEO of PeopleBrowsr UK, Andrew Grill describes himself as “passionate about marketing.

He tells me he's been an advocate for using technology to connect people for around thirty years – through the current form of social media, amateur radio and even the original online bulletin board. “We've started to call it social media in the last few years,” he says, “it's really about communication.

Professionally, Andrew describes what he does as helping brands to deal with the “pain” of social media. It can be a difficult transition to make, but Andrew advises brands to be honest about their aims. “Sometimes social media is the wrong thing to do,” he claims, “it all depends on your objectives.” Of course, such objectives can be varied. Some companies want to make more sales, some want to build their reputation, some just want a platform from which to tell people what's going on. For Andrew, it's hugely important to outline this objective and then find the best platform to achieve it on.

According to Andrew, “social media is both a challenge and an opportunity.” Many aspects of customer service and market research have been greatly changed by the growth of what he refers to as “two way media.” In this sense, he believes that British businesses and organisations should look to the hospitality industry for advice. Businesses such as hotels and restaurants have traditionally been very open both to customer problems and to putting them right. Most importantly, the hospitality industry has learnt when and how to admit that it's wrong. Social media is making it necessary for other industries to learn this too.

As CEO of PeopleBrowsr UK, it goes without saying that Andrew is keen to talk about the benefits of social metrics. He describes social media measurement in terms of “harvest[ing] the power of this very deep power mine and mak[ing] sense of it.” He's quick to say, though, that it's not just what social media users are saying about your particular brand that you should be monitoring. It's also important to look at what your customers are talking about when they're not talking about you. Measuring data like this means that your brand is able to produce content that your customers are interested in, hopefully making them like you more.

The advice Andrew gives to brands who are trying to develop social media monitoring strategies is to think carefully about context. He thinks it's important to be collecting data using a system like PeopleBrowsr – but that it's also vital to apply human logic to that data. “Do some clicking,” Andrew suggests; research what platforms people are talking about you on, the influence of those who are saying it, the intended sentiment. It's information like this that's really going to help you discover if your brand has a problem.

When I ask Andrew how important he thinks monitoring is, he likens it to modern market research. “Unless companies are willing to listen to what's being said [about them],” he says wisely, “they shouldn't be in business.

See Andrew Grill at SoCon2011 on the 20th of October at The ICO, Central London

Chinwag readers gain a £100 discount on Conference Tickets with the discount code CWAG100

Interview by Katie Anderson. Photo (cc) Louis du Mont