dynamics that are inherent to the pinball environment.
Customer metrics have to better account for the influence
score of consumers (Nitzan and Libai 2011). In today's
networked economy, people who reach and actively influence
thousands or even millions of people through their status
updates or tweets might not buy a company's products at all,
but have a much stronger impact on the company's prospects
than some heavy shoppers. Metrics such as the Klout score
have been developed, but are generally used in isolation
instead of being integrated with customer metrics. As an
example, in March 2013, American Airlines opened up its
Admirals Club lounges to influential flyers, regardless of
whether they were customers of the airline (Hoang 2013).
Similarly, Kumar, Peterson, and Leone (2007, 2010) have
suggested customer referral value as a separate metric. The
ideal solution would be to integrate purchase-focused and
holistic influence-focused metrics, but such an integration
would require deep knowledge of the business impact of social
Pinball Affects Organizational Processes and Structures
Marketing can be practiced by a single individual, but is
mostly embedded within an array of organizational activities.
Thus, effective pinball must be understood as a team sport —an
insight that was boldly underlined by numerous social media
practitioners during the thought leadership conference that led
to this special issue. Consider a social media crisis whose
development is usually determined within its very first hours.
Social media managers need to be capable of identifying the
threat potential of a crisis, of responding whenever the crisis
breaks out, be authorized to offer competent and substantive
answers to sometimes fundamental problems, and have access
to a variety of resources. Can the marketing manager (or even
the CEO) be contacted if the crisis breaks out during a
weekend or vacation period? Inflexible routines do not allow
such reactions, which imply cross-functional communication,
and cultures often are built on the assumption that it is the
company who sets the agenda of activities, not the tweeting
Firms have not yet allocated substantial budgets for
learning how to play pinball (Owyang et al. 2011), nor has
academic research shed much light on the organizational
adaptations required for success in the new pinball environ-
ment. Two studies in this issue shed initial insight into this
far-reaching and complex matter. Weinberg et al. (2013–this
issue) focus on the concept of social business and offer
arguments why transforming organizations into such social
businesses is a promising move, stressing the powers that are set
free when firms substitute silo-type structures by more cross-silo
collaboration, and when employees are enabled to display
expressive individuality. They illustrate their ideas by referring
to Dell's transformation toward a social business, which included
the “social media accreditation”of a large number of employees
and the development and execution of new metrics. In
addition, Malthouse et al. (2013–this issue) also shed light on
the role of organizational elements for mastering the challenges
that social media bring for customer relationship management,
stressing the need of an empowered culture and skilled employees,
among other things. Those wide-ranging organizational impli-
cations of social media can guide firms which now outsource
their social media activities to agencies along their way to
becoming powerful pinball players.
As a result of the dramatic changes social media bring, the
marketing world needs to move from bowling to pinball. This
special issue addresses key implications of this necessary transition
including the rise of consumer power, the co-creation of brand
stories, the new social-CRM, the invention of social commerce, the
need for new metrics, and the necessary organizational adaptations
in a pinball world.
The implications of the paradigm shift from bowling to
pinball are far-reaching not only for marketing managers and
companies, but also for the marketing discipline itself. To keep
in touch with the marketplace, scholars in every area of the
marketing discipline need to understand the implications and
consequences of the new paradigm. Playing pinball ourselves
might be a good place to start.
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