I had the opportunity to attend the second day of the Altimeter Group’s Rise of Social Commerce conference yesterday. After listening to the sessions and speakers, I realized that social commerce, in many ways, is still in its infancy when compared to the best practices and data available for “traditional” retail. With that said, I anticipate that the gaps will be closed quickly. This is the first of a couple of posts summarizing the sessions at the conference.
Social is about relationships
While I haven’t read Charlene Li’s recent book, Open Leadership: How Social Technology Can Transform the Way You Lead, I am keen to add this to my reading list soon. Charlene began her presentation discussing relationships.
To paraphrase, “Social is about creating and deepening relations. And business is all about relations. If one is in a relationship, then you can’t control the relationship. Rather social commerce provides organizations a way to deepen their customer relationships beyond transactional loyalty.”
According to Charlene, leadership may no longer be those who sit on top of the hierarchy chart. Rather, leaders are those who can impact the organizations based on their institutional knowledge and ability to make connections to get things done.
For example, Starbucks invited consumers to share their ideas regarding new products or improvements for the company. While the company could’ve taken these suggestions and provided minimal input, the company ensured that decisions were transparent to everyone. This required creating a team of more than one person – identifying those from different parts of the organization who 1) could provide insights into the process while 2) connecting with customers in real-time.
Social Discipline and ROI
Charlene concluded her presentation by highlighting the importance of discipline for social media, as well as reevaluating social media’s ROI.
The discipline is not about leveraging the tools regularly and consistently, but rather about understanding the flow of information through your social media process. When this discipline is in place, then you know how to manage emergencies, while gaining a three-dimensional view of your customer.
“We tend to overvalue things we can measure and undervalue those we can’t”
- CMO of American Express
With regard to ROI, Charlene urged the audience to consider a lifetime calculation that captures more of the behavior of customers, such as referrals, versus short-term results. This will help organizations see the value of a long-term relationship and invest mare into the relationship.
Many of the panelists highlighted how internal leadership was integral to spearheading their social strategies. Charlene’s presentation provided a glimpse into the entire value chain of how organizations can identify and tap “leaders” via social technologies, which in turn drives the relationship with customers in an increasingly social ecosystem.
In February 2009, I wrote a post titled “Would YOU Trust a PR Firm without a Social Media Presence with Your Social Media Programs” to determine how many agencies were active in social media.
While anyone who establishes a Twitter account or LinkedIn Group is not automatically an “expert” on social media, I do believe that you should practice what you preach. This point, as well as the role of a corporate presence vs. individual contributors, generated a lot of discussion.
Since the original post, my position about individual contributors has evolved. I believe that employees are an integral, if not essential, part of a successful social media strategy. However, to simplify the data gathering and analysis, I opted to focus on corporate presences, recognizing that multiple individuals are contributing on behalf of the agency.
I’ve included a slideshare presentation below, images on flickr that you can share (including the infographic to the left), and the list of PR agencies accessible via Google Docs (All changes for 2010 are indicated in red. Please feel free to make an update and include a comment below).
Key Findings: PR Firms More Social in 2010
* PR agencies increased their social media presence in 2010, with Flickr (500%), YouTube (379%) and Twitter (131%) demonstrating the largest increases respectively.
* While most agencies didn’t link to their social media channels on their website in 2009, 83% included this on their home page in 2010.
* Twitter was the most popular social media channel, with 80% of PR agencies having a presence. 35% had followers numbering over 1000.
* 2 to 1, PR agencies had a Facebook Page or Group vs. a LinkedIn Group Page
Conclusions: What a difference a year makes
In just over 18 months, PR agencies have increased their presence on several social media channels. While content was not evaluated as part of this review, some agencies leveraged Flickr and YouTube to promote their clients. This raises an interesting issue about agencies becoming an active publishing entity.
If a PR agency ammasses thousands of followers or create a highly-ranked/influential blog, will it have the potential to become an informal media outlet itself? And if so, how will PR agencies manage this changing landscape? What do you think?
I initially evaluated PR firms listed on O’Dwyer’s list of top 100 independent PR firms. This list was based on worldwide fees for firms with major US operations. As such, some prominent firms, such as Ogilvy & Mather, Ketchum PR and others. An additional 13 firms, who had proactively added their information to the PR Firm Social Media Wiki, were added to the 2010 review, yielding a total of 113 firms.
* I looked at if the agency had a blog, Twitter profile, Facebook page (both group and/or fan), LinkedIn Group, YouTube Channel or Flickr photostream.
* I didn’t categorize the type of PR each firm did – I took the list at its word
* If the blog wasn’t listed on the home page or easily found via a sitemap, I assumed there was none
* I searched on the agency’s name or common abbreviation as presented on their website. Anything more exotic or too cute, would not have been found
* For Twitter, I used Twitter search or tried to manually type in what seemed like an appropriate Twitter handle. Number of followers were based on number the week of September 20, 2010.
* I used the group search functions found on Facebook and LinkedIn respectively. I was looking for those who had proactively created a group page or claimed their fan page on Facebook. As such, LinkedIn Company pages were not included.
I attended the WITI Summit earlier this week, recapping the keynotes on the first day. On the second day, I attended three panel sessions on the Applied Cloud, New Opportunities in the Mobile Market, and Social Media Business Solutions. Below is my summary of these sessions:
Applied Cloud Panel Discussion
The panel discussion highlighted the benefits of cloud applications in terms of cost efficiencies, speed to implementation, scalability, and flexibility. Vanessa Alvarez, analyst with Frost & Sullivan, indicated that a hybrid approach (on-premise and cloud) may emerge which may ease issues with integration across multiple vendors and data.
While the benefits of cloud applications was discussed, the issue of data integration was present. According to R. Ray Wong, analyst with the Altimeter Group: ” Integration is very hard. Going backwards to best of breed … People are going out to procure apps themselves. Integration has to come back to have same reports. Everything is coming back as have to have a good data architecture and how the business processes get tied back for reporting. Then can talk about data integration.”
In the end, the possibility of SaaS suites will emerge.
Mobile is becoming an integral part of our lives. The panel clarified that there are six types of mobile applications: 1. Communications, 2. Games, 3. Multimedia, 4. Productivity (email, calendaring, etc.), 5. Travel, and 6. Utilities (address book, task manager, etc.).
Considering that the US has double the number of smartphones than China, which is second worldwide, there is ample opportunity for marketers to leverage mobile. The key takeaway was to provide your audience with useful applications that address their needs. For example, applications for new mothers would be an interesting opportunity for Johnson & Johnson or other company targeting new moms.
Social Media Business Solutions
The panel consisted of representatives from Meebo, Paypal, and IBM. For me, I found how Paypal and IBM leveraged social business very interesting:
Paypal Leverages Social for Community Forum and Customer Service
Paypal is leveraging social media as part of the service’s web self-service. The goal is to provide a long-term community to better understand the needs of their audience. For Paypal, the value is understanding the cost of product development and launch. With web analytics, they are also able to track customers and determine the path for communications help.
IBM Connects with Partners with Virtual Event
For IBM, they built a robust virtual event to learn from partners and provide them the information they need from IBM. 5,000 partners attended the virtual event live with 2,500 accessing the archive. IBM’s goal was not to replace its physical event with virtual. Rather, they can be selective with face-to-face events, using virtual to supplement the face-to-face.
In terms of value, they reviewed the analytics to measure against their objectives, such as engagement, did the conversations continue beyond the event, or was the conversation at a deeper level.
I authored a guest post on ”Using Social Media to Drive Virtual Tradeshow Leads“ for It’s All Virtual, an influential blog exploring virtual events and environments. In my post, I highlight key strategies on how you can leverage social media:
1. Identify influencers
2. Engage in conversations
3. Advertise Socially
4. Share Freely
5. Measurement and Tracking
I conclude my post by stating:
One word of warning is to first research and evaluate before plunging in with a social media marketing program, especially when contacting individuals and bloggers or participating in online discussions. While social media marketing takes time and effort, when done well, the results can be spectacular!
What has worked for you?
When you click on these links from Twitter.com or a Twitter application, Twitter will log that click. We hope to use this data to provide better and more relevant content to you over time.
This signals more than providing protection against malicious content (which is important) and to provide better content for users. Rather, by “logging the click,” I see this as part of Twitter’s continued efforts to provide value-added services and data tracking for corporations:
1. Measurement and Analytics: The click-through rate will help with Twitter’s “Resonance” rating. While the resonance rating is part of Twitter’s Promoted Tweets campaign, there is value to provide companies – small, medium and large – access to this data, similar to a Google Analytics dashboard. Maybe Twitter can provide an entry-level offering with minimal information and then charge for for more analytics and optimization options.
2. Content Creation: One type of intelligence is understanding how your audience consumes and distributes the content. By analyzing these patterns, you can gain insight into the types of content that your audience is seeking. You can then develop a content strategy to reach and connect with your tareted audience segments.
3. Influencer Relations: By combining Twitter’s retweet information with the t.co click-through data, you can better identify influencers within your social graph. These would be individuals whose followers not only retweet content but also takes action via click-through information.
I’m curious to see what future developments will be introduced (or maybe acquired) by Twitter to enable individual and corporate brands to optimize their presence on Twitter. And whether or not these services are complimentary or competitive to companies like Radian6. What do you think? Anything I’m missing?
In a recent report by Jeremiah Owyang of The Altimeter Group, The 8 Success Criteria for Facebook Marketing, the group highlighted the need to set community expectations as a key component for success in Facebook marketing. I think this is not just for Facebook but something to consider as part of your social media strategy. Furthermore, this extends beyond your external audience but also should be shared with employees and supported by your executives.
Here are key elements to consider to set the proper expectations:
1. Engagement: Be clear on how often you plan to engage via your social media outlets , as well as the guidelines for participation and behavior. In addition to incorporating the policy into your social media strategy, consider placing this on your corporate website to ensure consistency and refer back to it when appropriate.
2. Transparency: While people will engage with a brand, I strongly believe that putting a name and face to the company strengthens the connection with audiences and humanizes the company as a result. Incorporate a page that provides at least a bio and photo of contributors.
3. Purpose: Provide a clear sense of why you’re engaging people with social media. Is this to get feedback from consumers, to sell something or for customer support? Not only will this minimize confusion with external audiences, but also help internal employees understand what they can reveal publicly.
4. Consistency: Once you set the expectations deliver on this consistently.
Are there other factors I missed? Let me know in the comments, and I’ve also embedded the full version of the Facebook Marketing Report below for your reference.
Social Media Marketing 101
You’ve decided that you want to engage in social media. You have the resources, you have executive support, and you have a larger marketing strategy. Time to open the Twitter account, create the Facebook Page and post YouTube videos, right? Wrong.
Social media is about engaging your audience. The next step in your social media strategy is knowing what story to tell to draw your audience in. Here are some ”personas” to help tell your story:
1. Johnny Carson: Humor is a great way to draw people in, engage them in a laugh and leave them with a wanting with more. But you have to be cautious with using this method. There’s only been one Johnny Carson and many imitators. Make sure your use of humor fits with the messages you’re seeking to communicate and the personality of the company you’re cultivating online.
2. Just the Facts Ma’am (Dragnet): The straight forward and direct approach informs your audience about your products, solutions and company. This provides an additional channel for your audience to get answers to their questions. The challenge is developing a style that encourages engagement with your audience versus being seen as a broadcast of your marketing messages.
3. Tony the Tiger Mascot: Creating the right mascot can enable audiences to instinctively relate to your company and brand. The challenge – making sure the mascot doesn’t overtake the business value of your company.
4. The Old Spice Man: We’ve all seen the commercials and subsequent videos online. The Old Spice Man is a caricature that seeks to use satire to target audiences. While highly amusing, incredibly viral, and deeply memorable, use caricature cautiously. Of all the characters, this one can backfire quickly if not done well.
What other ”personas” do you see in social media?
Cece Salomon-Lee is director of marketing for ACTIVE Network, Business Solutions division, and author of PR Meets Marketing, which explores the intersection of public relations, marketing, and social media.
This blog contains Cece's personal opinions and are not representative of her company's.