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Another Earned Media example – A machine that unites people…

It is always a challenge to find good stories for Earned Media. They center around trust in custromers, believe in their desire to want the product, reunion of interests and the power of the community. Ideally, your marketing idea also includes some kind of innovation. HonestTea was my favorite case study so far. Now, the Coca-Cola Friendship Machine is showing another great idea how to generate Earned Media, apart from getting people to collaborate and push their limits just to get a Coke. Is there a better way to showcase the desire for a product…?

What is Social Media? – Famous quotes from the istrategyconference Amsterdam

After the first day of the istrategyconference in Amsterdam, I briefly wanted to share some insights in how Twitter caught some famous quotes about “What is Social Media?”. The people who brought these quotes up in their presentations, or the people that (re-)tweeted those might forgive me if I am not quoting and linking back to every single tweet, or Twitter account where it came form.

Why I am not quoting? Apart from having to listen to Power Point presentations, the challenge for presenters and moderators is to attract the attention of a crowd. And for the audience it is becoming more and more some massive workload to do multitasking, and participating an offline event in a 2.0 manner. A thought I have explored in a German post, and definitely need to translate when I find the time for it.

“Sometimes it makes you mad to listen to speakers and keynotes, write tweets, and respond to mails and Facebook at the same time. Not to mention blogging… How do you handle this?” A question I asked my friends on Facebook today. And I know from studies that multitasking is becoming more difficult the older we get, and that we are only able to do maximum two things at the same time. I don’t know how you see this but participation 2.0 is nearly impossible if you want to be share the way people would love you to do it.

This is just a random collection of different quotes that shows how Social Media was defined at the conference. Maybe you add some more quotes…?!

“Social Media is like sand: you can play with it and have fun but sometimes it gets into your underwear and becomes very annoying.”

“Social Media is like gardening: the real hard work starts after the seeding and planting.”

“Social Media is like … a dance with the right music (content) and partner (fan). It never needs to end!”

“Social Media is like an icecream, it’s delicious, everybody wants it, but it melts if you are too slow.”

“Social Media is like teen sex. Everybody wants to do it. Nobody knows how. When it’s finally done its a surprise it’s not better.”

Spot On!
In the B2B SocialMedia panel, which I had the honor to moderate and talk to Ed Bezooijen (Citrix), Paul Dunay (Networked Insights) and Menno Lijkendijk (Milestone Marketing) I also mentioned a quote that I think is going to be the main challenge for B2B marketers in the future. The relationship of content, distribution and perception which was (and in my eyes still is) the advantage of publishers to other content producers and curators. Publishers have all three of these as main pillars of their business…

“Content = King – Context = Queen – Community = The Empire”

If you see it different, tell me. If you like it, do so. If you want to add something, go ahead…

PS: THX to a great team from istrategyconference in Amsterdam for the good organization and the diner yesterday night.

My quote of the year 2011

Every year, you create a quote that you use either to explain your business, to justify what you are doing or to establish some kind of heritage for those that you think are interested in what you are saying.

Last year my quote was “Talking is online, silence is print!”. Although, I have had many tweets and many likes on this, there was also some critics coming with it… which is good. It shows that people think about the value and impact of the quote… and they start conversations. That’s what we want to initiate in business… not only with our social media activity.

For this year the quote will be about social media strategy…

“Community Strategy and Social Media is NOT a discipline. It IS an attitude to strategy in business.”

And before you start asking… By “discipline” I mean departments (like marketing, sales, customer service, HR, or other) that are responsible for using, handling, organizing and planning the business tactics around the brand, product line or service offering of business relevance.

… and now start discussing!

News Update – Best of the Day

In the US, almost 80% of children between the ages of 0 and 5 use the Internet on (at least) a weekly basis. This is the results from a report by Joan Ganz Cooney Center and Sesame Workshop. The report, assembling data of seven studies, also illustrates the increasing parallel consumption of different formats of media at the same time. Some key findings: 60% of kids under the age three watch video online, 47% is the amount television accounts for those using all formats of media and 36% of kids between 2 and 11 use internet and TV simultaneously. It is also interesting to see how the use of mobile phones is on the rise in the young age target group. Of children ages 6 to 11, 20% own cell phones,
compared with less than 12% five years ago.

Stop talking to your mobile, talk to me! This could be the message that arises from a post that Rohit Bargava posted under the title “Overtweeting: Are We Becoming Socially Antisocial?”. And I think this is a valid question to ask ourselves these days: Is social media becoming a conversation killer and going against the odds of the Cluetrain Manifesto? I would say: No! It will just take some time to find the right balance. Let the hype period move on. Let people understand that the world is changing. Then we are becoming Socially Social. It is just a matter of accepting that the world is changing, that technology will become our bred and butter, and that we see how much more we could participate in information around people we know. Agree?

Old school versus new school. This was the motto when Mike Ferry met Matthew Ferrara at the Coldwell Banker Generation Blue Conference where they had an intense debate if “social media is stupid”…

How Cisco's SocialMiner helps improve the conversation with customers (a John Hernandez interview)

One-on-one interview with John Hernandez

John Hernandez is General Manager of the Customer Collaboration Business Unit (CCBU) at Cisco, which provides contact center and interactive voice applications to enterprises and service providers. In this capacity he oversees product and market development, and is closely involved in the business with the Cisco sales force and partners.

The Strategy Web spoke with him about the launch and benefits of their new customer care product SocialMiner.

What were Cisco’s most successful social medias tactics in the last 2 years? How did Cisco came across the new solution SocialMiner? Why is social media monitoring so important from a strategic point of view for businesses?

Cisco is very active in social media. Our employees were some of the earliest adopters of Myspace, Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, and other social sites. We have tens of thousands of active social media users in our company, as well as a robust and vibrant corporate presence on the social web.

Social media monitoring can become a key strategic advantage for businesses. From a contact center perspective, social media could be treated as “just another channel” in a multichannel approach. However, the public nature of social media, along with the sheer volume of social media postings, makes social media as much a business intelligence tool as a new way to engage with customers. Cisco believes that proactive social media customer care will have a transformative impact on how companies engage and serve their customers.

The concept of the SocialMiner product came from our observation of the changing communication habits and Internet usage of consumers. As consumers have adopted social media channels for their individual communications on an ever-increasing basis over the past couple years, it is only natural that they would consider interacting with a business via social media. This concept of social impacting customer relationships is a very active topic within the emerging “Social CRM” community.

Is SocialMiner just a Customer Service product? Bearing in mind that social conversations on the web affects the whole business…

Cisco SocialMiner is an engagement product, not a “listening product.” SocialMiner is designed to scale the quality and quantity of social media interactions performed by a business. SocialMiner can be used for a variety of business functions such as Support or Sales, but we believe the customers that derive the most value from social media will also use these engagements to drive business process change. For example, an organization could use SocialMiner as a source of business intelligence to provide real-time customer appreciation or criticism of a product or service (or of a competitors’ product/service). Social media can direct their business strategy. Cisco believes that companies that learn from social media will become closer to meeting their customers’ expectations and this will drive overall business success.

Which three benefits do business users have using SocialMiner compared to other tools in the market (Radian6, Alterian, etc.)

1. Cisco SocialMiner is complementary to brand monitoring dashboard solutions. It is designed to support scaling social media by leveraging the best practices from contact center type operational models: Queuing, Service Level Metrics (Average Speed of Answer), and productivity metrics for users. By contrast, many of the brand monitoring dashboards have pieces of workflow capability, but these capabilities are either relatively limited or recently introduced functions.

2. Cisco SocialMiner is a component of the Cisco contact center portfolio which currently includes an installed base of over 10,000 customers. SocialMiner is packaged, priced, and delivered along with Cisco Unified Contact Center Express and Cisco Unified Contact Center Enterprise solutions, and therefore it supports the same installation, deployment, serviceability, and user experience as these other Cisco collaboration solutions.

3. Cisco SocialMiner is a very easy to install and operate software appliance. It runs on premise or in a customer controlled data-center hosting facility and offers unlimited capture capability. Cisco SocialMiner is an API-first product with 100% of functionality available via REST API’s and all user interface delivered as OpenSocial gadgets with documented source that can be modified by Cisco channel or customers. This model supports the preferred consumption model of most enterprise organizations along with a broad customization capability.

Can it be used as a stand-alone product or only in combination with other Cisco products for customer service? Do you have any case studies of success?

Cisco SocialMiner can be used as a stand-alone solution. We have several case studies that illustrate SocialMiner’s success. Zone Labs is one of them. The small wellness company was looking to accelerate revenues & grow 1000% in next 3 years, implemented Cisco SocialMiner to increase customer engagement, customer satisfaction and sales. Zone Labs started developing social communities on their own website as well as Facebook, Twitter and other social media outlets. They used Cisco SocialMiner to route and queue contacts to experts within their organization.

Using SocialMiner, experts were able to proactively answer health and wellness questions via Twitter, providing encouragement to consumers on the Zone Diet, customer service and expert advice on questions such as vitamins and healthy recipes. Zone Labs saw improved agent productivity by automating capturing and responding to social media posts (currently estimated at ~10x). They gained greater customer satisfaction & brand mind-share from faster first inquiry resolution on the web, and were able to compete on comparable scale with larger companies. Their social media activity reduced their customer acquisition cost and created a larger funnel with more leads, that were converted more easily and more quickly than before.

Within 4 months of using SocialMiner, Zone Labs saw tremendous results:
– Web site transactions up 189%
– Revenue up 203%
– 202% increase in total visitors to www.zonediet.com

Thank you for your time, John. And by the way: I like your commercial for the product…

News Update – Best of the Day

Although Facebook is seen as a danger from a user’s perspective in terms of data capture, it offers great opportunities for businesses. Companies better see “the Facebook opportunity, get their site and grab their buttons” suggests David Carr.

What are the targets for companies engaging in Social Media in 2011? The “2010 Social Media Benchmarking Study” from Ketchum and FedEx shows us what 62 researched companies are aiming at…
– Increase awareness and interaction with brand: 94.1%
– Create community for customers/fans: 76.1%
– Increase traffic to website: 55.1%
– Identify and react to customer needs: 50.3%
– Identify new business opportunities or leads: 49.0%
And the reason for all this? As Facebook and Twitter are the new normal. At least their co-founders Chris Hughes and Biz Stone make us believe that

If this commerial won’t remind you of “Jaws” (1975), then none will. Y&R created a funny video ad for LG Electronics latest vacuum cleaner…

The way to the real-time future of marketing mix

When you hear the term “marketing mix”, what do you think…? Pause! Think… Pause!

Does that sound familiar to you? For some of you it might. To others it blurs as they follow the hypes as new marketing topics that are shouting at them. Or did you listen to their silent tones? Isn’t it better to varify and understand the client before start creating a new marketing-mix.

Watching the latest videos on your Youtube channel, talking to “friends” on Facebook or following the latest conversations on Twitter is one thing. Drawing conclusions out of these conversations on the social web world is another. And taking actions like evaluating adwords versus email versus social network marketing or blogs versus micro-blogs) for your marketing mix afterwards is a third step.

Conclusions might also be that marketers realize that B2B people still read print preferably to online or love real face-to-face conversations. They might find out that these business decision makers think twice before they engage in conversations. Reasons might be social media guidelines or policies. Steps are needed (like social media monitoring) before you start understanding your own marketing mix could pay out (i.e. online and offline focus groups).

Other marketing opportunities have never died although social media still hypes. And there is a reason why the “marketing mix” phrase was created by Neil Borden some years ago. Not only as it is an easy to understand phrase. More as we use it in our daily business as marketers without even noticing anymore. It is in our DNA. It is a necessity. Will it ever be removed? I doubt it…

Isn’t it interesting that we never had something like “The ultimate approach to market your products and services”?

Obviously, there is none. In over 50 years nobody found one. Why that is? Well, the world is driven by human beings and their attitudes to become familiar and aware of new things is a dynamic process. Some people adapt quick, other slower. They prefer to get informed via paper. Some like online (via publisher platforms, social networks or blogs). Some still stay offline (as they are often on planes or trains). Others record TV news programs and watch them on-demand with their iPads. And then others use mobile readers or apps to stay up to date with their favorite brands.

Seeing the social hypes in our business world from an outside perspective, I sometimes get the feeling that marketers have to refocus on where users are in their “adaption of technology evolution”. And not invest all their money in one horse race. Or to use another business anology from a tactical HR point of view: Never let the whole sales team be on the same flight.

Where is the difference in marketing?
Is there one? If all your marketing budget goes on airport billboards and then an oil crisis comes up, the invest equals zero in terms of earn out. Or if you buy just one ad in a service provider catalogue on the web but the world uses Google and cannot find the provider in the first ten results, the budget might be wasted.

Some companies think investing in Twitter or Facebook saves their brands awareness in the future but forget that these sites go down once in a while. And then the data is gone or not accessible. Lucky are those who can be approached from other access points then – be it via a phone call (at most companies I am searching hours for a phone number), at an event promoted with social media maybe, at their corporate website, or the self-hosted community that is not on the popular social networks.

The cocktail of having different access points available, and those interacting with each other, is the marketing mix of the future. Although they might have a single target or focus the are aiming at, the marketing mix should be aligned to one common strategy: Engage the client.

Spot on!
As we are automizing our marketing more and more, we always have to keep an eye open which tools and trends are coming up. As technology evolves quite quickly, human beings tend to forget that they need to adapt their marketing mix accordingly. Having said that it does not mean they have to switch their marketing mix approach immediately. Watch out for the tipping point when your power buyers, your brand vangelists, start using different technology. This is the time when the “adaption of technology evolution” happens…

Study shows, Twitter is a real buzz-generator

It is undoubted that the Twitter users are the most influential crowd of people. A recent research by ExactTarget discovers now the outreach of the influence that these people have. It goes well outside the micro-blogging platform into blogs, forums and even the living room.

In it’s fourth study of their “Subscribers, Fans and Followers” research series, ExactTarget takes a deeper look at what makes Twitter users a special community crowd compared to other online channels. The study shows that the news that the users grab from the micro-blogging platform don’t stay on Twitter.

The news are spread via the following communication channels…
– 72% publish blogs at least monthly
– 70% comment on blogs
– 61% write at least one product review per month
– 61% comment on news sites

“While the number of active Twitter users is less than Facebook or email, the concentration of highly engaged and influential content creators is unrivalled – it’s become the gathering place for content creators whose influence spills over into every other corner of the Internet.” Morgan Stewart, Principal, ExactTarget’s research and education group

Spot On!
The study also provides insight that daily Twitter users are six times more likely to publish articles, five times more likely to post blogs, seven times more likely to post to Wikis. For business it has to be stressed that these daily Twitter users are three times more likely to post product reviews at least once per month than non-Twitter users.

Interested to know if Twitter users really create so many reviews and ratings? What’s your view on this topic?

Social Networks – Are niche communities the future of networks?

More often people are fed up with all that self-referential talk of individuals on social networks. Or, companies which do not understand the idea of an online conversation, including clients and not just broadcasting the old-fashioned marketing and sales way. Just today, I had some people in my Facebook stream and my Twitter updates telling me how the weather was, what their kids had for breakfast, or that their wives don’t understand their affinity to social networks. OK, nice, fair enough… Interesting? No!

And then I hear my wife saying… “Why keeping up the contact to so many people if there is no option to even get actively into 10 per cent of the conversations happening in these online relationships?” True, but you never know when some contact might need you, or vice versa.

Checking Facebook and staying up-to-date on Twitter becomes challenging on a busy day, with kids that are happy to see dad in the evening for some minutes, and long-time friends complaining why they don’t hear anything from you anymore.

So, is there another trend coming up in the future that might go for niche social networks, niche communities? Why? We had that offline for ages. Years ago, people have spend hours in their football club bar after a training session, or went to book readings to enjoy the discussion afterwards, or went to a vernisage in order to “philosophy” about the latest gallery exhibition with someone they don’t know. The reason for doing it was just their share of interest in something, a hobby, a passion, or a kind of affinity. So, are we seeing social networks for art geeks going on virtual gallery tours in the future?

My father was telling me that he uses a Bridge community and plays daily for one or two hours. A friend of mine is a DJ and he spend hours in communities for DJs like My DJ Space or Mix DJ. Some even still (or again?) love vinyl and become members in a community there. These music enthusiasts do nothing more or less than share their interest in being DJs, and obviously loving to mix tapes. The special interest is the centre of their community engagement.

Some years ago, somebody approached me with the idea of an international golfer network (http://www.golffriends.com/welcome/community). As I love playing golf (though don’t have enough time to play often…), there was some interest to become a member, if not more to become more engaged in the business idea. But then, time and the thought of managing many private interest networks -as I have quite some hobbies- next to my business networks and the top networks made me not investing too much time in that vision. Maybe I should have done…

Mothers share their passion for coffee on Cafemom, and if we think about all the Starbucks communities it does not surprise us. Games exchange ideas and thoughts on Raptr, or real social activists use Care2. Even more “nichy” is the passion of men for their moustache that they express online to the public. And others share their interest in Whisky or Wine networks.

So, my question is if niche networks could take a big portion of the market share of global social networks (Facebook, Twitter, Myspace, etc.) in the future? Can you see people going away from the self-gloryfying popular networks that the mainstream web user is engaged in? Tell us of niche networks you know and how you see this trend?

Product strategists think social innovations could increase

If there are more and more people engaging with brands on the social web, the opportunity to collaborate with the social community becomes a lucrative meaning for brands – and their product strategists. These managers could open up a new “external R&D department” when they use social technology in order to increase product innovations by integrating their customers in the process of product creation and development.

A recent Forrester study of 181 consumer product strategy professionals from companies around the globe states that product strategists in companies strive for social innovations. Though Forrester makes clear that social innovation is not yet where it should be from the product strategist’s point-of-view. The study shows the familiar picture that we see in more or less all departments in companies: It is still early days also for product strategists to work with social media. And only some leverage social media in favor of social innovations.

Still it seems to be a big challenge for companies to find their way from being engaged with their customers on the social web to understanding the impacts and chances to social innovation management. This becomes clear when we see that 83% of the companies use social media to drive customer conversation but then not even half of those have product teams that influence product design, creation, or strategy by using social media.

It is also surprising for me to acknowledge that it is not the resources that are lacking. More than two-thirds of the responding product strategists have dedicated social managers or teams. On the one hand, it lacks the right technological connection bridges between the different company departments. On the other hand, when not more than one-fifth have formal policies in their companies for sharing data from social technologies with product teams, the road to succeed with social co-creation efforts seems to be long.

Spot On!
The best way to produce the right products for your customers is to ideally let them inspire a business. In the past, we had focus-groups which were cost-intensive, time-limited and time-consuming. The concept of social creation and social innovation can work on a day-to-day innovation platform. Just think of Dell Ideastorm, MyStarbucksidea, Adobe’s ideas lab or the IKEA Hacker approach. Nevertheless, companies should be aware that customers very often need or want some kick-back for their inspirational efforts. So, in my eyes the point of giving away some form of incentive will be necessary to get such communities started and make them sustainable.

Or will customers in the future co-create for free to receive better product-price-quality? What do you think?