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Study: C-level executives still unsure how to leverage Social Media for business growth

It seems to be a love and hate relationship: Executives and Social Media. On the one hand, companies see how critical a social business strategy is for their business. On the other, they still don’t know how to harness the value of the new modern media landscape and the feedback channel online world. This is the insight we get from a survey of C-level executives conducted by Harris Interactive for Capgemini.

The findings, which are part of Capgemini’s Executive Outsourcing Survey, were published with their launch of the social media management service. The survey asked 302 senior executives at Fortune 1000 companies.

The question where to position Social Media inside the company seems to be omnipresent: Marketing? Customer Service? Corporate Communications? Or really change the company to become a social business operation? Does someone have a crystal ball? More than half say that Social Media is a part of their company’s customer care operations. However, 64% of those responded that it is a pure responsibility of their social media marketing department.

Surprisingly enough, 74% executives stated in the study they were not even sure how many employees are dedicated to customer care via the Social Web activities of the company. The value of Social Media can be seen by 57% of responding executives who think that it is “inviting customer input on product and services, lead generation, responding to complaints, internal reporting, and measuring customer satisfaction.”

And it is best to forget the 13% who still believe that Social Media is not important for future success of the company.

Spot On!
The attitude from executives towards Social Media also describes the fact that less than half of executives (41%) are monitoring online conversations about their brand, product and/or services. They only respond to an online conversation when a customer poses a direct question, representing a significant missed opportunity for companies to proactively solicit feedback and enhance the customer experience. The ooportunity to engage with the customer is there but executives (and probably their management teams) need to embrace the opportunity and change their business into a social business strategy and align it with their web strategy team.

Social Media Evolution at EMC (Video)

Many companies have started showing case studies, infographics, or videos to present their latest Social Media activities. Now, EMC comes up with a great video that explains nicely how the copany leverages the power of the social web.

In a “comic-style” video a Neanderthal man (what a nice metaphor) explains how Social Media has changed the way EMC engages with its audiences, how it helps to strengthen their relationships with customers and partners, and the public. However great all their success might be, they also highlight the responsibility which comes along with the Social Web engagement.

The EMCCorp YouTube channel states that the “brief training video is designed to communicate the key points of proper social engagement while not losing sight of the ‘fun’ side of Social Media”.

I remember a social media training day I have given their marketing team about one year ago and how much they liked the power of virals I have shown them. Don’t know if this can be connected to the training, but I have to ask… Isn’t this a nice way to illustrate the social media evolution in the business arena? Well done, EMC!

PS: Some bits and pieces in the video could be discussed from a social media strategic perspective as I would not always agree with them…

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.

Some Easter Fun…

I am wishing you all a great Easter! Today, we just want to share some fun. And as you will have some time to think about life, here is something to think about…

Think about the new ROI metrics in the future. And we better rethink if we don’t spend more time with our real friends over Easter…

Why spend time with your real friends? To tell them the true story of the Easter rabbit

…or to remember how nice love could be (if you are not the husband)…

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…

Money, Money, Money – Facebook users follow brands for discounts, and Twitter for social badging

Some days ago, we could read that Facebook is becoming kind of an outlet for brands to engage with their fans and which brands scored the best. A recent survey from ExactTarget and Co-Tweet now shows product discounts and “social badging” are the main motivations for “liking” brands on Facebook.

43% of Facebook users interviewed said they “like,” or are fans of, at least one brand on Facebook. Among those, 40% admit that the reason for staying friends with the brands is to receive discounts and promotions. Interestingly enough for me is that already 39% state they do so to make their brand affiliations public versus 23% of interviewed people said they follow brands on Twitter for social-badging purposes.

Some more findings of the study is basically saying that marketers are “welcome as participants on social networks” as long as it supports free enterprise, not because they seek out interactions with marketers on Facebook.

Further key findings on ExactTarget’s study Facebook X-Factors why people like brands on Facebook…
– 34% like brands in order to stay informed about company activities
– 33% want to get updates on future products
– 17% are more likely to buy after liking that brand on Facebook

Again we can see in this study that Facebook is definitely more a platform for women than for men to keep up relationships (63% vs. 54%), connecting with old friends (68% vs. 56%), and managing their social lives (41% vs. 34%).

As the top performing brands on Facebook are named…
Oreo (Nabisco): Top among deal seekers across all age groups (Facebook drivers: coupons and freebies).
Wal-Mart: Top among cost-savings opportunitiy seekers across all age and gender.
Victoria’s Secret: Top among especially Millennials as of new product offerings featured.
iTunes: Top among Millennials as of highlighting new movie and music releases.
Dove: Top among women based on their iinitial “Campaign for Real Beauty”.

The findings are based on a survey of 1,506 consumers age 15+ in April 2010 and consumer interviews among 44 people in March 2010.

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?

The 3 types of social networkers that influence the buying process

It’s been a rumour in the industry for quite a long time now: Facebook and Twitter are becoming indirect shopping platforms and their buttons can boost sales. A recent survey by the research firm Gartner Inc. discovered that most of the users appreciate and take suggestions from their friends through social networking sites before purchasing products. And furthermore, they rely on three types of social networking friends for their purchasing decision process.

The Gartner study asked nearly 4,000 consumers across 10 key markets. The interesting part is that people in the social networks are taking different positions inside the purchasing process when recommending products to people they are connected with. Gartner identifies three types of people and roups them into three categories: ‘Connectors’, ‘Mavens’ and ‘Salesmen’.

So, how do they differentiate from each other?
The ‘Connectors’ are defined as those who “perform a bridging function between disparate groups of people and enjoy introducing people to each other”. The ‘Mavens’ are “knowledge exchangers or information brokers”, who are experts in particular area and people go to them for advice. But they are not people who wish to convince people to buy certain items; they are more interested in acquiring new knowledge, it said. The ‘Salesmen’ are those, who have “extensive social connections” and the personality trait that persuade people around them to “act on information in highly directed ways”.

“Our survey results showed that one-fifth of the consumer population is composed of Salesmen, Connectors and Mavens. These are three roles that are key influencers in the purchasing activities of 74 per cent of the population.” (…) “Salesmen and Connectors are the most effective social network influencers and the most important groups for targeted marketing based on social network analysis.” Nick Ingelbrecht, Research Director, Gartner

Gartner advises companies based on the findings of its survey to pro-actively engage with these different types of people on social networking sites. Not surprisingly, they define these categories of social media influencers as the “critical, but underutilised, aspect of the marketing process” for the future.

“Companies attempting to use social networks should develop relationships with key customers over a period of time and progressively refine the social network profiles of those individuals.” (…) “Retailers who run small shops have instinctively done this with their best customers for years with the intention that these ‘VIP’ customers will not only buy the new products but recommend them to their friends.” Nick Ingelbrecht, Research Director, Gartner

Spot On!
For me, there is a strange thing about this study. It causes a Deja-vu, I have never had before in my life. Two years ago, I published and explained -in German- in a long post the importance of these three types of people in business networks for business decision makers, and how businesses should focus on them when talking about their social media approaches. And guess what: Two years ago, I came to the same conclusion and refered to the same types of people. In these days, I have read the book “Tipping Point” by Malcolm Gladwell for the second time. And in this book you will find the same categories of people, and you are told to rely on them and work with ‘Connectors’, ‘Mavens’ and ‘Salesmen’.

The main question is now, how to address these social networking influencers? Can you call them up and talk to them directly? Send an email? Invite them for dinner or lunch? What is the best way to start the conversation with them?

News Update- Best of the Day

The question for marketers working with the social influencers is often how can we integrate those opinion leaders into our marketing strategy. Just found a post with 3 tips that give some guideline on how to interact with influencers to increase your marketing output.

Social Media, well… let’s says strong relationships, will make our life last longer – the same way as if we stop smoking. This is the suggestion a long-time study by the Utah’s Brigham-Young University provides. I am glad I stopped smoking and instead using my time getting engaged in the social web discussion four years ago…

“Our social relationships are important not only to our quality of life, but also our longevity. Throughout human history, we have relied on others for survival such as protection and food, and despite modern advancements that may [help with] certain aspects of survival so that we can live more independently, it appears that our relationships nonetheless still impact odds of survival,” says Dr. Julianne Holt-Lunstad

“Our social relationships are important not only to our quality of life, but also our longevity. Throughout human history, we have relied on others for survival such as protection and food, and despite modern advancements that may [help with] certain aspects of survival so that we can live more independently, it appears that our relationships nonetheless still impact odds of survival,” Holt-Lunstad

Stats on web usage are always helpful for presentations and argumentation around getting engaged in the social web with a business. This little tool taking data from the Web Index might be of some help…

As we can read from the stats social media usage is growing in every country. England seems to be leading the crowd. This video by SimplyZetsy provides great stats on the UK grwoth…

News Update – Best of the Day

Every social media expert out there loves talking about The Cluetrain Manifesto and it’s impact on the future of our marketplaces. Now that the Cluetrain is more than 10 years old, I am trying to follow it’s creators in order to see how their views have changed. One of the founders Doc Searls -after Christopher Locke and david Weinberger some weeks ago– was writing last week about the main drivers of the open marketplace transaction, conversation and relationship. “Marketing is now all gaga over “social media” as well, in part because many believe that Cluetrain was all about “social” markets”, he says, and I have to admit sometimes I do see it that way, too. Having agreed with him, I do have to add: Technology changes quickly but it is difficult to change a market situation – no matter if social or open. Why? In the first place, it is driven by human beings. And it takes them a long time to adapt new culture. Haven’t we seen this 10-15 years ago when all this internet hype started? In some way, we seem to be on this learning curve again. Don’t you agree?

There are many valuable Twitter tool lists. Vadim Lavrusik created one of the (in my eyes) best Twitter tools top 20 lists that will help you improve your Twitter experience.

Adbands has become a classic event in the last years. And the commercial which was produced for the event tells us why. No more to say…