May 2, 2013 by Ryan Tate
Facebook yesterday outlined its ambitious shift to mobile and toward ever-more-finely targeted ads. It also hinted at an aggressive new way of billing advertisers. But is the world ready to come along for the ride?
November 30, 2012 by Scott Monty
The marketing world seems ablaze with so-called “content marketing” ideas lately. Everywhere you turn, it’s content-this, content-that. There are conferences that are specifically dedicated to content marketing. I’ve even been guilty of saying that content is the currency of social.
With such ubiquity of content conversations, it should be easy, right? Not so fast. Plenty of marketers are guilty of simply taking their television spots or other existing assets and spreading them across the web, mistakenly believing they’re creating content.
There are two things wrong with that way of thinking. The first is that such a scatter shot approach is sloppy marketing; it’s the antithesis of targeted marketing, which should be easier in this era. Consumers tell us so much about themselves and we should have enough information to be able to find which of them we should be speaking with. The second is that it’s lazy. In addition to finding the right audience to speak with, we also need to create content that is specific to them. A one-size-fits-all approach simply will not work any more.
But when you actually need to churn out content – good content – on a regular basis, whether it’s for a client, your employer, or just as a hobby (like this site), it can seem as if it’s a huge weight on your shoulders. No one has captured the sheer angst better than the very clever Matthew Inman of The Oatmeal with Some Thoughts and Musings About Making Things for the Web.
You may have noticed that I haven’t posted here in a while. My writing frequency here has slowed in the last year for a number of reasons, the first being simply a lack of time, due to the demands of my day job. The other is that I’ve made a conscious decision only to post content when I feel it’s of a significant enough quality to deserve your attention. Even if I had the ability to crank out daily posts, I don’t think I’d be giving every single post the thought that it deserved.
As the calendar begins to flip from November into December, I looked at my site and noticed that October 3 was the last date I created something of substance here. And it really bothered me that I haven’t been able to come up with anything to fill the void in that time. Then, on a whim, I took to Twitter. I asked:Did you ever have writer’s block, like for a month?
— Scott Monty (@ScottMonty) November 30, 2012
And one of my followers came to the rescue:Why not write about it? :) RT @scottmonty: Did you ever have writer’s block, like for a month?
— kai macmahon (@kaimac) November 30, 2012
Now I’ll admit, that my first response was to dismiss it, saying that I could only manage 140 characters at a time. And then I thought, “Writing about not being able to write? How meta.” But then I thought about it for a little bit, and a few jumbled ideas began to formulate in my head, and even as I’m typing this out, I’m finding them beginning to congeal into some categories.
Here then are some thoughts on creating content in today’s always-on world. Rather than a how-to guide, these are simply some observations on what impacts the process.Eliminate distractions, but invite diversionsIt’s entirely too easy to feel the lure of social networks. The immediacy of Twitter, the connectedness we feel with friends on Facebook, the endless boards of pinned images on Pinterest and the hipster art on Instagram – these are all false idols when it comes to creating content. We’re more likely to be consuming content on those sites. As such, they qualify as distractions.
But just as the martial artist knows how to absorb energy from an enemy’s attack, we too can learn to pivot with these tools. Asking a question on Twitter as I did was a diversion rather than a distraction. While my question focused on the challenge I was having, it allowed me to focus on the conversations instead.
Over on Facebook, you’re probably likely to have surrounded yourself with people who share your hobbies, beliefs, geography, etc., and therefore you may not be inspired by a diversity of thought. Seek out people you might not have interacted with in a while. Change your feed settings from Top Stories to Most Recent. This will mix up your content a bit. You can also create Interest Lists and visit these customized feeds with a specific purpose in mind. These small actions could provide a little variety to what you’re seeing and from whom.
Understand who you’re trying to reach
Kind of a no-brainer, but when you’re tasked with creating content that needs to live somewhere, it’s a good idea to know a little bit about that somewhere and the people who frequent it. It could be your corporate website, a Facebook page, recipients of a white paper or email, viewers of a video, etc. If you don’t understand a little bit about them, you may miss the opportunity to connect with them. Based on previous interactions, what kind of content do they like? Have they indicated other brands or interests that matter to them? What have their comments told you? All of this should help fuel the content you’re making.
Look to industry leaders
There are others who are doing this well. Let them inspire you. About a year and a half ago, Mashable took a look at a handful of leaders in content marketing (How 3 Companies Took Content Marketing to the Next Level), highlighting Mint.com, HubSpot and American Express. And just this week, Forbes ran a piece titled 5 Big Brands Confirm That Content Marketing Is The Key To Your Consumer. Their list was made up of Virgin Mobile, American Express, Marriott, L’Oreal and Vanguard. All respectable brands. But one stood out to me.
American Express was on both lists, a year and a half apart. What allowed them to not only keep on this endless treadmill, but to be leading the way? When you look at what was covered, you can see an interesting evolution or expansion of their content strategy: the first article looked at their Open Forum network. What they created was an infrastructure in which content could thrive – content that American Express itself wasn’t necessarily producing. Sure, they had to lead editorial direction, but in the end, the content was provided by the community. The content and the community have become intertwined and serve as the value that site visitors are looking for.
The second article looks at American Express Unstaged – a series of livestreamed concerts and exclusive videos. Again, Amex has leaned on the creativity and content expertise of others – in this case, entertainers – to provide a semi-exclusive experience for their members. The work is really around the event creation, contracts and infrastructure to give a place for the content to happen. They themselves aren’t creating the content; they’re relying on others.
Content needs coordination – it’s only going to get more serious
In my day job as the global head of social media for Ford Motor Company, I see how many teams are working on a variety of content (and frankly, there’s lots that I don’t see, simply because there’s so much). But the point is that we have teams of people whose job it is to create stuff for the web. And yet, there’s no one minding the store. There’s no central individual or team that has a sense of all of the content that’s being generated and how it all fits together. Transmedia has been another buzzword of the past year; ideally this doesn’t mean the same content on every platform (see above), but rather a story arc that unfolds using a variety of platforms, each for its own unique purpose. A tweet leads to a video that leads to a website… You get the idea.
The practices of marketing (where content is highly produced) and communications (where content is quickly produced in response to external forces) need to coordinate more than ever before in the post-content marketing world. David Armano of Edelman recently looked at how Brands Will Become Media: Here’s How, noting the need for a social-creative newsroom that is comprised of a variety of talents, including editors, community managers and creative producers.
Similarly, back in April, Jeremiah Owyang of Altimeter Group took a look at The Future Career of the Corporate Social Strategist (you can bet that I was interested) and had three potential paths: rise into the head of customer experience, foster or lead a new role in content strategy, and move into program coordination – or dissolve the role completely. Simply by noting the average number of corporate social network accounts, he demonstrated the need for consistency, but he went further, reminding us that content goes well beyond social.
There’s much more to think about in the churn and burn world of content. But these are a few of the elements that came together as I was trying to accede to the pressure I put on myself to write.
What helps you to overcome writer’s block or content block? And how can we all become better content marketers? Drop a note in the comments section to help us all learn together.
Image credit: .m for matthijs (Flickr)
More reading [affiliate links]:
- Content Marketing: Think Like a Publisher – How to Use Content to Market Online and in Social Media
- Managing Content Marketing: The Real-World Guide for Creating Passionate Subscribers to Your Brand
- Content is Currency: Developing Powerful Content for Web and Mobile
- Content Rules: How to Create Killer Blogs, Podcasts, Videos, Ebooks, Webinars (and More) That Engage Customers and Ignite Your Business (New Rules Social Media Series)
- Content Marketing For Dummies
November 12, 2012 by (author unknown)
Update your Quarterly feed preferences
By offering decision makers rich real-time data, social media is giving some companies fresh strategic insight.
Read more on the McKinsey Quarterly >
November 12, 2012 by (author unknown)
Update your Quarterly feed preferences
As these powerful technologies shake up productivity and growth across industries, they will create new organizational imperatives.
Read more on the McKinsey Quarterly >
High Tech Strategy
September 14, 2012 by Steve Olenski
With the holidays coming – yes they are coming and will be here before you know it. And in case you’re curious, my favorite color is blue and I’m partial to cashmere, just in case you want to start your holiday shopping now.
September 6, 2012 by (author unknown)
By next year, Facebook will be ahead
July 27, 2012 by David K. Williams and Mary Michelle Scott
For CEOs who are trying to decide whether participating in social media is worth their time, there’s new research that could help tip the balance.
The new report from CEO.com and business intelligence firm DOMO
notes that social media is more pervasive than ever among consumers: 50% of the population currently uses Facebook, and more than 37% use Twitter. Yet among Fortune 500 CEOs, the report says, only 7.6% are present on Facebook, only 4% use Twitter, and less than 1% use Google Plus. LinkedIn is the only social network where CEOs are slightly ahead of the general populace, the study concludes: Twenty-six percent of CEOs surveyed use LinkedIn, compared to 20.15% of the population at large.
However, another recent report shows CEOs’ reluctance may be changing: When IBM recently surveyed 1,709 CEOs, it found just 16% currently participating in social media. However the study predicts the percentage will likely grow to 57% within 5 years — and, in fact, social media will become one of the two most important forms of engagement with employees and customers, second only to face to face interactions.
Why the change? Corporate leaders — and especially large company CEOs — are finally realizing what their employees and customers already know: That using social technologies to engage with customers, suppliers, and even with their own employees enables their companies to be more adaptive and agile.
This is a principle we take to heart at our own company, Fishbowl, as well. For example, we maintain a Facebook group for our customers of our inventory control software that allows them to interface directly with our engineers. This allows customers to send complaints, praise, ideas and requests for new features to our programmers through a forum the entire world can see. We also make it a practice to share our competitors’ information freely and to praise their successes as well as our own.
In many respects, social media is becoming the “universal university” that allows all of us to learn from each other through comments, feedback and spirited dialogues, even when we may not agree.
As leaders, we see social media as a way to obtain contacts that would cost far more money (and perhaps be far less engaged) if we were trying to simply purchase all of our leads through PPC ads. For us, that indicates a positive Return on Investment.
Consider one more piece of recent research: The BRANDFog 2012 CEO Survey says more than 82% of respondents are likely or much more likely to trust a company whose CEO and team engage in social media. The study also reports that 77% of respondents are likely or much more willing to buy from a company whose mission and values are defined through their leaderships’ involvement in social media.
Clearly social media is becoming vital for business; however, the biggest rewards are available for companies whose commitment to social media comes from the top. Regardless the size of your organization, why would any company want to let such a strong potential competitive advantage go?
July 19, 2012 by Kimberly Whitler
Image via CrunchBase Social media is important. CMOs get it. There are plenty of articles that detail how important social media is and many others talking about how unprepared CMOs are to handle it. However, few articles focus on the gap – the space between knowing social media is important and
July 11, 2012 by Scott Monty
Marketing for a small business is hard. Not only do you have to be proficient at every traditional practice (outdoor, email, direct, event, print, digital, etc.) but now you’re expected to put social on top of that as well.
The good news is there are some basic blocking and tackling moves that can make your job a little easier that should encompass any platform that you decide to embrace. This infographic outlines five small business tips that can make it easier to reach your marketing goals.
Take note of these five areas and pay special attention to how they each tie specifically to a customer need or want. If you’re thinking like your customers, you’re more likely to be successful at each and every one of these elements.
Here they are via text:
- Get their email. And make sure you give them a reason to sign up.
- Ask for reviews. Over 20% of reviews have local intent.
- Give back. Find a local cause that you can get behind.
- Change it up. Rotate your message or your creative.
- Learn from your customers. They’re smarter than you are about what they want.Are there any other tips that you’ve picked up along the way?
June 12, 2012 by Robert Hof
You may have read last week about this new research from comScore about the effectiveness of Facebook ads and brand posts. But the details of the study, which is being presented this morning at the Advertising Research Foundation’s Audience Measurement 7.0 conference in New York, are much more interesting than comScore’s teaser blog post.
June 1, 2012 by Michael Brito
Just yesterday, MIT Sloan in collaboration with Deloitte released a study, “Social Business: What Are Companies Really Doing?” that highlights the growing importance of social business initiatives. What I found most interesting was the view and perceptions from the C-Suite.
According to the research, C-level executives vary considerably in their perceptions about the value of social business to their organizations today. On average, and across all industries in the study, CEOs, presidents, managing directors, board members and CMOs are most likely to perceive social business as an important business initiative today. CEOs are twice as likely as CFOs and nearly twice as likely as CIOs to view social technologies as important right now. Below is the breakdown.
Despite their differences regarding its importance today, 70% of the executive respondents believe that social business will be important to their organization in three years. This suggests that many executives regard social business as neither a threat nor a passing fad – and perhaps they just need to understand the business value before making any significant investments.
Now here is the good news. Executives are beginning to see the value of social business and are talking about it. The bad news is that it’s just words. Will they continue just talking about it or will they take the appropriate steps to start transforming their organizations – starting with themselves first. And, is 3 years too long to wait?
I have said this before and I will say it again.
For any social business initiative to actually work, company leadership has to change their behaviors – the way they work, they way the communicate and they way the lead. What bugged me about this study was that it was mainly focused on social technologies (like the mere act of deploying Jive or Lithium will suddenly change the business). In my view, technology does not change a person. Change has to come from within. There has to be a burning desire to move the organization forward with social embedded in its DNA. The beliefs, values and characteristics need to change if they want the rest of the organization to imitate those social behaviors. Perhaps this is one reason why 70% of social business projects fail, as reported in this report.
Image: Meeting Room From Big Stock
May 30, 2012 by jeremiah_owyang
Left: The Sacramento delta forms after many tributaries feed into one single water body in Silicon Valley. Similarly, social startups are combining with incumbent software into one suite (Wikipedia)
As an industry analyst, I’ve been waiting to write this post for a few years, it’s fascinating to see the Cambrian Explosion (a prehistoric era where millions of species rapidly emerged on the earth) now turn into consolidated suites, as the ever fragmented Social Business Stack (we found 18 classes of software and service) unmanageable for brands who seek less complexity. Finally, we’re starting to see the combination via partnership, as well as consolidation of platforms emerge.
[A Social Software Suite (SSS) is a consolidated set of social web applications across multiple use cases that share a common user interface and data interchange. The suite enables corporations to manage online relationships and activities with their internal and external customers]
In summary, the state of Social Software Suite (SSS) is immature. The the M&A is just happening across the industry and the integration stories have few proof points or customer case examples, we’re in a stage of infancy for social suites. While we’ve seen many social media proof points, hearing how social integrates into email, advertising, crm, support software, BI, CMS, and beyond is in it’s early stages. Without a doubt, we’re entering another era of the social space.
Consolidation a Natural Evolution, Sign of Maturity
- Integration occurs after a Cambrian Explosion. When I show brands the social business stack of vendors, they often sigh, get frustrated, as they know they’re the ones that must integrate all the pieces together. They seek a common set of vendors to emerge that they don’t have to constantly coach on R&D and integration partners, and are waiting for maturity in products and consolidation so they have to analyze less vendors. Secondly, as social integrates with all other incumbent software, the need for suites to emerge are only underscored.
- High Valuations Forces Biz Dev and M&A. The industry is feeling a domino effect. As a few acquisitions start happening, large software enterprise players know they need to make their bet on the table to get into this game, after initial innovation was done by startup vendors. With IBM, Adobe, Lithium, Salesforce making some of the early plays this has set off an arms race for other vendors to develop their integrated suite.
- Facebooks IPO “Debacle” makes M&A more attractive. With Facebook’s IPO not going as well as financial analysts had hoped with initial valuations, the hopes of these startups to go IPO and succeed like 10 years ago have now shifted to M&A deals, where the exit is combining with a large player. The domino effect causes all investors, boards and executive teams to make their deals and moves before potential windows from suitors dries up. It’s dating season, and everyone wants to mate.
Brands Must Prepare Company, Yet Complexities Not Undone
- Suites are Good for Brands Who Tire of Complexity: Brands are tired of dealing with hundreds of vendors, and having data and logins and systems spread across the space. They seek consolidation from their providers, as doing it themselves in a rapidly changing environment is complex, expensive, and frustrating. Expect brands to line up at the C level to embrace vendors that provide high level dashboards that provide real time reporting on these tools, and enable multiple business units to manage social use cases across the company.
- Suites may Frustrate Brands Who Seek Best In Class: Don’t expect these suites to be a silver bullet to solve the needs of corporations. Point providers can innovate faster, work with an ecosystem of agencies and system integrators and maintain platform agility. M&A doesn’t promise integration will occur smoothly, esp as cultures and platforms are forced to marry in a rapid manner. Expect many pure play vendors to maintain their lead and stand the test of time –without being acquired
- The Future is Integration of Paid, Owned, and Earned: Altimeter’s current research on the integration of Paid, Owned, and Earned (POE) has already found early indicators that brands, and their agency partners are seeking tools that interwork together, and as a result a new team within a corporation will emerge to lead this charge, agency partners will restructure and new software will emerge to make this come to life.
Ongoing List of Enterprise Class Social Software Suite (SSS) Vendors
If you’re like me (who’s full time job is to track this) this is a confusing space to track, as a result, I’ll keep this list updated for a few quarters, till it doesn’t make sense to manage this or it’s time for me to do a formal vendor rating and ranking. Disclosure: Your trust is important to us, as a result, we want to disclose many of these vendors are clients of Altimeter Group. Vendors are listed in alpha order.
Provider Integration Points Research Notes Adobe Ads, Targeting, Analytics, Social Media Management System, Social CMS Adobe was the first to launch a nearly complete suite that spans the entire digital marketing push at their Summit conference. Although mainly marketing, they must bolster into customer support positioning beyond CQ5 this is a strong contender that already has an enterprise marketing footprint via creatives and now with Omniture. Bazaarvoice Ads (Media), Social integration in .com, analytics Bazaarvoice recently acquired top competitor PowerReviews giving them a lock hold over ratings and reviews across the industry. Recently, the announced a media product that extends social ads beyond .com and even beyond FB and Twitter ads. They must expand to engagement software to cover the full span. IBM Analytics, Brand Monitoring, Targeting, CRM A strong existing player that acquired Coremetrics, they have a strong background in analytics and intelligence, but need to develop an engagement solution that allows brands to engage in social while aggregating data back to their systems. Lithium Communities, Engagement software, brand monitoring Traditionally a community vendor on support use case, they’ve acquired Scout Labs for brand listening and recently announced a white label engagement tool. They must quickly move into the marketing aspect beyond support and launch an advertising platform that converts earned content to paid. Oracle Social Media Management System (Vitrue), Social Analytics (Collective Intellect) CRM and now Involver New entrant, they acquired Vitrue for an assumed $300m showing the promise of social data into existing CRM systems a reality. The roll-out isn’t quite clear for roadmap, I look forward to hearing more. (edit: now that they’ve acquired Collective Intellect, the pieces fit together: listening, engagement, analytics. Salesforce Brand Monitoring, CRM, Data.com, lightweight community products Traditionally strong in sales and support use cases, Salesforce (edit: has purchased) BuddyMedia (who purchased ad platform Brighter Option) that would quickly extend them into a new arena, this fast mover is disruptive and is to watch. Whoever Comes Next TBD: TBD: I’ll update this as vendors emerge.
May 30, 2012 by Jonathan Burg
SalesForce bought Radian6. Then Oracle bought Vitrue. Then SalesForce bought Buddy Media. The rise of the Social Suite is undeniable. And it’s changing the game. But how big? And how fast?
The Need For Social Suites
Social never lived in a vacuum. We’ve long known that a rising tide lifts all boats and that social strength was the result of actions within and beyond social. Our customers live cross platform lives. But we were never able to connect all of ours dots. We always tried to, but were never able to track one-on-one or aggregate customer engagement across ads, conversations, communities, support, loyalty, CRM etc. Building the needed bridges across these solutions require too much work and too much manual duct tape, only to create a frustratingly limited and fickle output.
A unified platform offers incredible promise for consumer engagement and far better metrics.
About one year ago I was at a social industry event where someone shared a fantastic story. They believed that their engagement with the brand’s social customer service arm on Twitter resulted in their getting upgrades across the brand’s many offerings. The brand in question was my client. We tried to set up a system that would have this capability. We found that there was no good way to bridge their social engagement system with their dated customer service system, and both of these solutions were incompatible with their multiple CRM systems powering their loyalty database.
The new SalesForce just may have all the right pieces in place to power this fantastical social user experience. If that is, my client had been willing to invest heavily in migrating all of the above mentioned systems over to SalesForce.com or a compatible database.
The Challenges of Unification
The rise of the integrated Social Suite is going to pose multiple political and logistical challenges for agencies and social teams who are used to sitting in the driver’s seat. Social teams have long been able to choose their page management, social listening and conversational engagement solutions based on their own needs and tastes. Many large brands continue to switch solutions providers every 18 months or so, and most are using more than one solutions provider at a time. Most CRM teams have been working on their existing infrastructure and solutions for decades. Migrating all of this data and merging all of these workstreams onto a single solution will not be cheap or easy.
Getting a Social Suite to work for you will require finesse, investment and at times compromise. Marketers who want the benefit of a unified system are going to need to be ready to clear their internal and partner/agency hurdles in order to get everyone on the same page.
The potential benefits to a Social Suite are clear. It is less clear however, if the potential benefits will be enough to entice big players to migrate away from their entrenched solution.
- Social Suites will take time to build and develop. Version 1 of these integrations will not be as robust or as meaningful as version 4. Early adopters will want to play in the sandbox, but most of the market will take a more phased or wait and see approach.
- Social Business consultancies are going to try to leverage these suites as a foot in the door on broader agency business, and agencies are going to start taking Social Business as a concept more seriously.
- A limited integration will be found to be better than no integration at all. There will still be value in a Social Suite even if the entire organization does not get on-board. SalesForce has a very low cost of entry and there is value in integrating all social customer relationships, even if this system is not being scaled up to the broader organization.
Today’s news is great news for all my friends over at Buddy Media, Radian 6 and SalesForce and I wish them well. This was a brilliant move for SalesForce, and I look forward to seeing the many fruits of this integration. While agencies and consultants are going to revel in the hype, change takes longer than talk. The change will come, but it’s not going to be as fast or as awesome as many in the “industry” would like to have you believe.
May 29, 2012 by Michael Brito
Much of the social business conversation revolves around the internal dynamics that make up an organization – culture, change management, technology adoption, process creation, etc. This should certainly be the focus because social business is not social media. I just wrote a post last week about employee engagement and how social business can extract innovation from employees behind the firewall.
But many of these internal initiatives (as boring as it may seem) enable an organization to better communicate with their constituencies externally. In other words, a social business enables a brand to be more social (i.e. a social brand.) A few weeks ago, Mitch Lieberman released his version of the Digital Interaction Process, which I like a lot:
Here is how I interpret this diagram.
- The social customer is influential and they have no problem whatsoever telling the world about their experiences, whether positive or negative
- Brands are listening to the conversation using online monitoring tools
- They are collecting new social data about the customer AND/OR integrating that new data with the data that they already have from traditional CRM systems
- They are applying a set of business rules which will determine what to do with the conversation; and then building workflows that direct the conversation down the right channel
- Brands are attempting to become human as they attempt to engage with the social customer
Whatever we call this process – digital interaction, customer engagement or social CRM doesn’t really matter. What matters is that we acknowledge that this process is happening today and has been for quite some time now. And what’s more important to recognize is the collaboration and internal alignment that it takes in order to do this right. Marketing can’t do it alone. Support doesn’t have the resources, budget or “know how” and IT probably wants to stay as far away from social as possible. For this process to work, these teams need to work together and communicate. Not an easy task, trust me.
One company that does this well is Comcast.
Comcast Cable Company is a perfect example of a brand that has adopted this process. In fact, they were one of the first to do this and often get all the glory for innovating the way they communicate with customers on the social web thanks to Frank Eliason. I am a huge Comcast fan and I have been a customer for over 10 years. I am happy with their products and the way they have handled my support issues over the years.
But not all Comcast customers feel this way.
Doing a search on Twitter will reveal a commonality of complaints about Comcast. One issue, which comes up daily, is that technicians are either late for their appointment window or just don’t show up at all. And for what it’s worth EVERY telecommunications and Cable Company has this problem, which is why many of them have established a guarantee of service.
Of course, if I am customer going through this, I can always pick up the phone, dial 1-800 Comcast and reach a support agent OR I can tweet at @ComcastCares and they will expedite my issue to the right office/support agent/technician. After all, this is what a good social brand should be doing, right?
- Comcast is monitoring
- Comcast comes across my Tweet
- They take my social data and couple it with my actual customer record so they know just about everything about me
- How long I have been a customer
- My support history (i.e. previous support interactions)
- Which products I subscribe to
- Demographic data
- They assign “my conversation” to the right region or office (I believe @ComcastCares is managed out of Philadelphia and there is a call center about 10 miles from my house in California)
- They handle my issue with empathy, solve my problem and maybe give me a $20 credit or 3 months of a premium channel for free
That is a common scenario for many brands today; and many of them are doing a really good job including Comcast.
But if social business enables better customer relationships what about solving the root cause of the problem?
The issue with technicians being late to appointments or not showing up at all is not a customer relationship management problem at all. The problem exists somewhere in the internal process – from the time I call in to order to service – to when the support agent takes my info, assigns me my appointment time, inputs into a system – to when my service order gets picked up from that technician on the day of appointment. Something is broken in that process. Or, maybe they just need to hire more staff. Either way, it’s not scalable to handle the same (day in and day out) customer support issues over Twitter, especially since Twitter as a support channel is becoming widely adopted; and consumers in general are gaining influence, daily. Someday, small things like this just might come back to bite them in the butt.
A social business does more than they enable more meaningful customer relationships. It optimizes processes and changes the way it does business.
May 15, 2012 by Robert Hof
There’s a curious disconnect plaguing Facebook in the run-up to its initial public offering this week: Just about every marketer knows she or he has to be on Facebook to reach its nearly 1 billion users, which is why ad spending on the social network nearly doubled last year. But even as they write Facebook checks, those same marketers invariably confess that they’re unsure what they’re getting from all that spending–in particular whether Facebook ads ultimately push more products off store shelves.
May 14, 2012 by John Bell
Last September Michael Scissons, president-CEO of Syncapse, used data to reveal that “Engagement on the Facebook walls of leading brands is down 22%.” He plotted engagement metrics on the top 300 brand pages. His hypothesis is that brands are not delivering long term value in favor of quick bumps from overuse of coupons and offers.
More recently the Facebook Timeline innovations seemed to improve overall engagement. According to Simply Measured, the change brought a 14% Increase in Fan Engagement. The format and the much industry-discussed launch called for lots more pictures and video content which saw a 65% increase in engagement (people interactive with multimedia content).
Are we good or are we in trouble? Are brands delivering the best quality interaction and value via their page content or is it all devolving? Are learning the hard lessons of the difference between a Facebook relationship and a broadcast channel?
My hypothesis is that many brands are not doing all they can to create a sustained and valuable relationship with their fans, followers, customers via these still new channels (facebook, Twitter, YouTube etc…). They too often fall into a habit of just broadcasting out content. Since the metrics say pictures and video do well, they try and create as much of that as possible. Sometimes they fly by the numbers alone without context. Rohit Bharagava has a new compelling book out now called Likenomics. It is not about Facebook. He makes a great point about marketers who steer completely by data without regard for context in the section, “Why Context Matters (And Your Sticky Website Actually Stinks.” He cites John Hayes from American Express with a thoughtful quote – “We tend to overvalue the things we can measure and undervalue the things we cannot.” I would add one word in there – “We tend to overvalue the things we can measure easily and undervalue the things we cannot.”
Marketers are looking at readily available data on what drives the most interactions. They are not always weighing the benefits of a varied and enduring relationship with fans. I hope everyone knows that a small number of fans in any fanbase routinely do most of the interacting with content. That is a standard quality of many communities. Keeping that loyal core involved is valuable and just good business. And, yes, when asked, consumers cite coupons or offers as the number one reason they follow a brand. Again, let’s not over simplify and make every interaction a “10% off coupon.” That flies in the face of everything we know about building valuable brands.
The data should guide us. Not rule us.
AdAge recently needlessly took a jab at the social media specialists who champion a more conversational approach to wall content.
“Among the weirdness Facebook’s existence has loosed upon the world is the idea that it’s OK, and perhaps even good business, for brands to sidle up and give you verbal balm for your case of the Mondays, ask for predictions on the big game and offer random thoughts on things that have not a whit to do with their product or service.
The touchy-feely strategy is meant to be conversational — human, even. But new data from Facebook itself tell us that what looks good on the social-media guru’s presentation deck isn’t the best approach for making Facebook work for the brand.”
Their true point and the point of the Facebook study is that content that relates to the brand – the reason people liked the page in the first place – matters. Users engage more with content relevant to the page topic which just happens to be the brand.
Clearly, relevant content is key, yet a conversational tone true to the brand can help as well.
Create the right mix
Different wall content drives different fan action. Likes, Shares, Comments all have value but not equal value. Object Likes (liking a piece of content vs. a page, also called “fanning”) are often devalued by brands. I had a spirits client who dropped them from KPI metrics since he felt, rightly so, that it was too thoughtless a gesture and was not indicative of any serious engagement. ‘Shares’ show up in your wall and therefore take bigger advantage of the network effect available in Facebook.
As Matt Creamer put it in the recent AdAge article, “Facebook to Brands: You’re Posting Stuff Wrong”,
“Another important finding was that asking people to like a post indeed yielded more likes, but it didn’t do much for the other forms of engagement, including the all-important share action that sends a brand’s post into a users’ timelines for all of their followers to see. Compared with likes, shares represent a bigger investment from the consumer and occur less frequently. Thus, shares are often going to be more meaningful from a marketing perspective. After all, they suggest the brand is tapping into that friend-of-fan network that’s central to Facebook’s viral proposition.”
We have found 7 simple types of content that each drive different types of user engagement. (See 7 Types of Facebook posts here.) Our Community Managers use them creatively and responsively with communities to drive long term and immediate actions. We listen and respond. If we drove simply by the data without context or a long term commitment then we would simply post remarkable picture after remarkable video – multimedia driving the most ‘shares’ in the Facebook study.
Quality of the relationship matters. Quality of the content, too. Brands can embrace a more fine-tuned and, yes, conversational but not irrelevant, cadence to their communications. Just using the Facebook wall as a broadcast channel will never justify the huge valuation in the Facebook IPO nor the substantial bets that brands have made in their multi-million dollar ‘partnerships’ with Facebook.
May 4, 2012 by jeremiah_owyang
After interviewing over 10 software companies and 10 agencies, a new trend has emerged that will change the social business landscape. What is this trend? The marketing performance techniques to refine TV, Radio, SEO and other marketing mediums are now moving to the social space. Read my definitive post on Mashable to learn how this impacts not only brands, but also Facebook and my long term predictions on how this will play out.
Companies are struggling to scale to keep up with all the conversations in this space, secondly, the noise is becoming deafening with everyone from consumers to brands all shouting in social that targeting is needed to cut through the noise. Those that deploy volume quickly find they’re part of the noise, and get cast by the wayside. As a result, we’re seeing a new category emerge, called Social Performance Software.
Social Performance Software Defined
Software tools and methods that analyze, plan, deliver, and measure media such as ads, content, and conversations published in social channels. For example, they will analyze the conversations of your followers, then suggest which content and media to publish, then determine when to publish, on which channel, and to whom. As a result, content will reach the intended audiences and result in higher resonation, or higher call to action rates
List of Vendors focused on Social Performance
Here’s a list of the vendors, if you know of others, leave a comment below. Please note that this category stretches across a number of product lines, as this will be a horizontal feature set spanning nearly every social software company.
- Adobe Social, which includes multiple acquisitions including Omniture and Context Optional.
- BuddyMedia, offers both campaign platform marketing tools along with social ads with their Brighter Option acquisition.
- Bazaarvoice, now has turned their earned content from ratings and reviews into a new social ad unit –even outside of FB.
- Crowdbooster, analyzes, measures and then optimizes when content should publish.
- Prosodic, which analyzes the who, what, where, and aids publishers.
- Shoutlet, focused on larger scale companies can help with complicated publishing needs, at scale.
- SocialFlow, analyzes your current socialgraph activity, guides users on content creation, then publishes at highest resonation.
- Tigerlily, focuses on publishing content by theme, audience and location, increasing relevance.
- UberVU, who first mines and analyzes data, then optimizes when content will publish.
- Webtrends Social, tracks content and ads, and measures performance across these multiple locations.
- Wildfire, a campaign platform marketing company has recently partnered with Adaptly to provide social ads and more
I’ve written other posts discussed why this trend will be important, one major industry force is that with Facebook and Twitter now offering ads (and new ad networks will emerge off FB and Twitter) we’ll continue to see social media agencies turn to advertising. I’ll be writing more about this space in the coming quarters, such as benefits and downsides of automation, and where this future will head.
May 4, 2012 by (author unknown)
North America is no longer the center of the social universe
May 3, 2012 by Christine Crandell
Companies of all types have jumped on the social bandwagon. The allure of having a deep, meaningful customer relationship is enticing and social media is so easy. Companies have multiple social media accounts across a wide range of channels including Twitter , Facebook, Tumblr, FourSquare, LinkedIn, Google+, and the list goes on. Anyone with a thousand or more employees will likely have over 170, mostly unmanaged, social media accounts. With each new tool introduced, like Pinterest, companies rush to get onboard without thinking about how it fits into their business strategy or customer expectations. Too bad all that time has been wasted.
April 10, 2012 by (author unknown)
To launch Smart Argentina’s Twitter account, @smartArg, BBDO Argentina created what it bills as the first “Twitter commercial.”