Friday Sep 27, 2013

All Together Now: Social Relationship Management is a Team Sport

soccer huddleAs brands adapt to the new world of social across the enterprise and using the massive amounts of available social data to generate superior customer experiences, the question always arises of how to organize internally for the most effective social relationship management possible. We kept the lines of communication open with Aberdeen’s Trip Kucera for a talk on that very subject.


Spotlight: It’s not uncommon to see big brands honestly trying to communicate via social, but winding up with egg on the face for not executing it properly. You probably see the same thing right?

Trip: Well, a funny thing happened in social media earlier this summer. Some folks from the “Occupy” movement tweeted a photo of some chalk art they’d created in front of the new Bank of America building in NYC. That was right after they’d been asked to leave by the local constabulary. The chalk art featured the Monopoly guy and fairly predictable missives about the 99%, etc. The tweet included a mention of @BankofAmerica. No news value here so far, right?


postSpotlight: I’m still impressed with your use of the word “constabulary,” but I bet there’s more to the story.

Trip: There is. As it sometimes goes with social, the response is where things get interesting. @BofA_Help responds with a “helpful” and friendly, but obviously auto-generated tweet, “We are here to help, listen, and learn from our customers and are glad to assist with any account related inquiries.” In fact, they auto-replied to every single retweet of the Occupy post mentioning @BankofAmerica, including those of an increasingly mocking tone. It’s not hard to see how this (auto)-response might come off as the epitome of faceless, nameless corporate America.


Spotlight: It’s one of those things where an instant, generic auto-reply probably sounded like a good idea at the time internally. But in the real world, it exposed them.

Trip: Yes, and the point here isn’t to pile on, but to learn from this rather public moment how we all might be able to do it better. Two thoughts come to mind:

  • Social is personal. It’s an essentially person-to-person medium. Social is interactive and responsive by its nature, and customers expect it that way. Window dressing won’t do anymore. If you’re going to have a social presence, it needs to have presence. Of course, that can make scaling social for large brands challenging.
  • Social is a team sport. Marketing may, and should, have primary responsibility for a firm’s social presence, but it’s a responsibility that’s increasingly shared with other stakeholders, including the sales and support organizations.


Spotlight: We just came out of Oracle OpenWorld and so much of the conversation revolved around customer experience and social’s critical role in it.

Trip: Great customer experience is core to social media success, but social relationship management Leaders, the top performers as identified by Aberdeen’s research methodology, don’t just wait for the magic to happen, they engineer engagement through effective teamwork. Aberdeen’s recent social relationship management research found that as a compliment to their social listening capabilities, top-performing companies are 36% more likely than Followers to identify and prioritize social posts for engagement (45% vs. 33%), and 53% of Leaders have established a workflow to pass info from social marketing to internal stakeholders for follow-up, such as a “hot” lead or customer complaint, compared with 42% of followers. These capabilities are the social version of the 360˚ view of the customer, but also point to the transparency of social. That improperly handled customer service issue can quickly become a drag on social brand equity.


Figure: Social Engagement is a Team Sport

figure
Source: Aberdeen Group, July 2013


Spotlight: So it’s not like you can just go rogue and start doing social for your company. The C-suite has to give the green light. And frankly, getting top-level support has been an issue.

Trip: Organizational imperatives like this often start at the top, and social is no exception. The notion of the socially enabled enterprise has clearly reached the C-level. Senior management at Leader companies is 23% more likely than their Follower counterparts to understand and support the company’s social media strategy. Senior management support is not only instrumental in getting everyone on the same page, so to speak, but in granting “permission” for the organization to develop its social voice as an extension of its culture.


Spotlight: Of course, that permission usually comes with caveats in the form of social media policies, whether those are soft guidelines or hard rules.

Trip: Just as broader corporate culture should be expressed and represented in the norms and policies of a company, its social culture should be at the heart of any social media policy. To this point, we find that Leaders are 30% more likely to have a company policy in place for employee use of social media, 61% vs. 47%.


Spotlight: Sounds like the advice is that if you don’t have any social plan for the organization, let an internal leader craft that plan and support them in it.

Trip: We know that great social media moments start with, and could very well end without, great customer moments. But smart companies also know that winning in the “hidden sales cycle” of social requires more. It requires an organizational commitment to social relationship management that starts at the top and stays all together.


Don’t forget to check out some further insights into just how organizations are dealing with social entering and being applied across the entire enterprise by getting our study of social business from Oracle, Leader Networks, and Social Media Today.


@mikestiles
Photo: stock.xchng

Thursday Sep 26, 2013

Oracle OpenWorld: Day 4

ReggieOracle OpenWorld Day 4 saw a breathtaking America’s Cup win for Oracle Team USA and more keen insight into technology’s forward march in terms of big data, the cloud, customer experience and the morning’s specific focus…social’s astonishing impact on organizations and business.


Social Spotlight once again gets you on the inside and keeps you up to speed on the top thoughts coming out of this incredible annual event.


Keynote on Social with Reggie Bradford, David Vap, Tesco, and LEGO’s Lars Silberbauer.


Technology is being driven by the accelerating trends of social, mobile, data and cloud.


Customer expectations are increasing, creating massive disruptions that make it harder to differentiate, compete and win.


86% will stop doing business with you after one...ONE bad experience.


Only 16% of organizations describe their customer experiences as "advanced."


Your customers couldn't care less about the silos you've built inside of your organization. It’s NOT their problem.


Customers are a wide variety of demographics, and they're trying to engage with you on numerous channels of their choosing.


Oracle's complete CX solutions suite includes marketing, commerce, sales, service, and social.


Digital natives move seamlessly between the real and digital worlds, whichever works best and is most convenient at the moment.


Things are shifting from multiple customers/one experience to one customer/multiple experiences.


He who serves the customer best in this seamless, connected world, wins.


Consumer adoption cycles are going faster. If you're not in a position to adopt and adapt yourself, you're in trouble.


90% of all purchases are subject to social influence.


Companies that collaborate across departments that take advantage of technologies are the most successful.


For social to achieve its true value, it has to be part of a broader ecosystem to enhance the customer experience.


Social is being extended across the enterprise, integrated with the application stack.


Oracle recently announced the integration of the Oracle SRM with key components of Eloqua.


The Oracle SRM is built for global scale, with access to over 700 million messages daily, 185 countries, and 31 global languages.


CX


Empowering Social Business with Meg Bear


Data volume will grow 20 times what it is today by 2020.


300 million photos are uploaded to Facebook daily, and there are an average 400 million tweets per day.


Customers don't stand still in the buying journey. Approach them as one conversation, one transaction, one relationship.


A combined effort is needed from functions that are “onstage” with customers and “backstage” supporting these interactions.


70% of businesses today use social technology and 90% report getting business benefits from it.


Even internally, social collaboration and sharing results in a projected 20-25% increase in productivity.


Brands are moving from using social to broadcast messages to listening, learning and engaging with customers to cultivate relationships.


Social applies across the enterprise: marketing, commerce, selling, customer service, HR, and collaboration.


70% of executives think social can fundamentally change how their organization works. But only 10% rate themselves highly on it.


Just 34% of social professionals think their social is aligned to business goals and outcomes.


The culprits holding back “Social Business” are lack of overall strategy, competing priorities, and lack of business ROI.


Gartner estimates 80% of social business projects will disappoint due to lack of leadership support and taking a narrow view of social.


We're moving from a “siloed” world to a holistic, unified approach - with departments and technology solutions.


Best Practices: Attain executive buy-in & support, align social with clear business objectives, collaborate across people, processes & technology, enact social policy guidance (guidance…not rules), let the company’s social champions lead, integrate social across key areas of the enterprise.


If you’d like to see even more great content that came out of Oracle OpenWorld 2013, it’s ready and waiting for you at OpenWorld Live.


@mikestiles

Wednesday Sep 25, 2013

Oracle OpenWorld: Day 3

team usaOpenWorld rolled into its third day in San Francisco with excitement in the air both about new cloud product announcements from Oracle (Database as a Service and Java as a Service, both with 3 levels of Oracle management to choose from, which stand ready to drop costs and operational complexity for the enterprise), and about the amazing comeback wins by Oracle Team USA vying for the America’s Cup.


And, of course, the focus on Customer Experience at OpenWorld continued. Here now are the easily digestible thoughts that came out of two of those key sessions.


Socially Enable Your Enterprise to Maximize Your Customer Experience, with Meg Bear and Lisa Gidich:


"A business absolutely devoted to service will have only one worry about profits. They will be embarrassingly large." -Henry Ford


"There is only one boss. The customer. He can fire everybody in the company by spending his money somewhere else." -Sam Walton


"If you build a great customer experience, customers tell each other about that. Word of mouth is very powerful" -Jeff Bezos


It took radio 38 years to reach 50 million users. It took Twitter 3 years.


Are your ears burning? Fortune 100 companies are mentioned 10,400,123 times per month on social.


They won't take it sitting down anymore. 75% of consumers have posted a negative comment on social after a poor customer experience.


1 in 3 users prefer to contact brands using social rather than the telephone.


Employees have actionable data at their fingertips - and a way to send service inquiries from social to Right Now.


Hello? Hello? 58% of those who tweeted about a bad experience never got so much as a response from the brand.


Brand reality is not meeting customer expectations. 81% of users who reach out on social expect a same-day response.


Exceed your customers' expectations. Their perception is your reality.


The benefits of an integrated Social Relationship Management platform include savings, reduced complexity, smoother workflow, and better customer experiences.

cloud services

Forget B2B and B2C: Technology Enables B2P Marketing, with Angela Wells and Marius Ciortea


B2B or B2C, no matter what you're selling, success depends on connecting with decision makers.


91% of B2C marketers use content marketing. In fact, 78% of CMO's think it's the "future of marketing."


Think there’s a disconnect? 90% of consumers find custom content useful. But marketers spend about 25% of budget on content marketing.


This Just In: B2B buyers and decision makers are people too!


Executives have access to information, peers and influencers on social. So there’s less need for information from vendors “trying to sell me.”


Marketing has to understand the business issues of customers via listening and answering that add value to each step in the buying cycle.


B2B wants content that’s original, consultative and pertinent. Vendors are giving them promotional and technical content instead.


The CMO Council says too few marketers grasp the role and value of content in lead acquisition, qualification, conversion and closure.


It’s not about fans or clicks. It's about the viewers and their engagement.


Latent Semantic Analysis presents themes that filter out noise and refine search in order to get the most accurate signal.


Leverage your experts. Asked how social information would affect health decisions, 60% said they trust info posted by doctors.


Deemphasize lead generation to focus on customer interactions. Concentrate on customer needs. Provide value.


Understand how prospects interact with messages, content and each other. Develop personas so you’ll know exactly who you’re talking to.


Day 4 of OpenWorld lies just around the corner. Keep following @oraclesocial for live tweet coverage of sessions like:



@mikestiles



Tuesday Sep 24, 2013

Oracle OpenWorld: Day 2

Mark HurdIn his Keynote address at OpenWorld, Oracle President Mark Hurd informed the crowd they were going to be hearing a lot about Customer Experience during the mega-event in San Francisco. Saying new consumers are, and will continue to be, much more difficult buyers than we ever were, Hurd added that what makes them “difficult” is simply that they expect to be treated well.


Below are the day’s key thoughts from a CX mini-keynote that followed.


91% of C-suite execs want to be a CX leader in their industry. But only 38% of them have a formal CX initiative. The need is to move from thought leadership to plan-to-solutions leadership.

Steve Miranda, EVP, Oracle Application Development.


CMO's and marketing teams are going from marketing communications to experience engineering. Rallying around the customer should now drive IT decisions. The winning combo is cross-channel optimization + relevant product + meeting individual needs at the right time and on the right channel. Embrace “failing fast”…experimenting, discovering results, learning, and adapting quickly. Being customer-centric can start paying off in the short term, even if the vision is long term.

Glen Hartman, Global Managing Director of Digital Consulting, Accenture Interactive.


eBay customers want tailored shopping experiences across platforms. The journey to a consistent CX is to be able to deliver anytime, anywhere. Today's best practices break all the rules you learned in the past.

Ghufran Ahmed, eBay


90% of commerce is influenced by social. Customer expectations are rising...BUT delivery by so many companies is declining. You can't just outsource social to any 22-year-old digital native. It’s too specialized, too critical. Something with such a tremendous impact on the bottom line should not go to the least experienced employees. Data and customer interactions can be woven into every part of the Oracle Social portfolio...into many functions beyond social. You must know your customer in order to respond to them in the way they want and like being responded to

Meg Bear, GVP, Oracle Cloud Social Platform


Do things that are incremental. The important thing is to just get started. The days of huge projects are gone. Put the customer at the center in unexpected ways to change their perspective of you.

David Vap, Oracle GVP


Attendees also heard from Oracle pros and clients in various sessions that the shift to customer-centricity is indeed yielding results that benefit both the customer and the organization.


Everything we do is about us as consumers, not brands. It's not about what kind of marketing brands send out. Consumers do the talking and sharing about our brands. Social is a global communications transformation. It took the telephone 75 years to reach 50 million users. It took Pinterest 2.75 years.

Erika Brookes, VP Product Strategy, Oracle Social


IT is not brain surgery. Figure out who your audience is and what they're doing on social. Online is another storefront – one that demands tremendous customer service.

Kat Smith, Social Media Director, Petco


Social is one of the most measurable channels - quite easy to track. It's not about "owning" social, it's about being the lead group helping your organization leverage social. Once executives know how to use social, they don't want to leave the social conversation.
Lars Silberbauer, Global Director of Social Media, LEGO


As for IT’s role in this fundamental business and organizational transformation, attendees heard it put quite simply that the CIO is already in the marketing business...they just might not know it yet. Join us on @oraclesocial tomorrow for Oracle OpenWorld, Day 3, with coverage of sessions such as:


  • Socially Enable Your Enterprise to Maximize Your Customer Experience
  • Forget B2B and B2C: Technology Enables B2P Marketing
  • Accelerating Success With Social Customer Service
  • Larry Ellison’s Cloud Keynote Address


And yes, that's Jerry Rice in the photo above who stopped by to pay a visit today.

@mikestiles

Monday Sep 23, 2013

Oracle OpenWorld: Day 1

DataCenter of the FutureOracle OpenWorld 2013 got kicked off in fine fashion Sunday with a theme applicable both to Oracle Team USA and big data…speed. CEO Larry Ellison took the stage to much applause and proceeded to announce systems that take both query and transaction processing to unprecedented levels.


Transactions run faster on row format, analytics run faster on column format. 12c stores data in both formats simultaneously. The M6-32 Big Memory Machine is terabyte-scaled computing featuring 12 cores per processor and 96 threads.


Oracle exec Juan Loaiza demonstrated M6-32 running against 218 billion rows at 341 billion rows/second. It’s a machine perfectly suited for in-memory databases. Flip the switch and your applications runs on Oracle in-memory with no Application changes.


Ellison also announced the Oracle Database Backup Logging Recovery Appliance, designed to back up databases, not just files. It’s built for the protection of critical business data and can be housed either on-site or in the cloud, you decide.


Of course, since treasured Social Spotlight readers are primarily social marketers, such an announcement and terminology might be a tad eye-glazing…depending on just how much your CMO and marketing department has moved toward understanding the CIO and their world.


bannerBut here’s what is important to know. The ability to house, process, and execute transactions using the vast amounts of big data enterprise organizations can pull from multiple sources, including social, is not in question. That means the socially enabled enterprise will not be constrained by query/transaction capacity or speed. Enterprises will be able to act on the information customers willingly give at every touch point in a manner and at a speed that creates a bankable difference in customer experience.


We invite you to follow our Twitter handle @oraclesocial as we live tweet several insightful sessions on OpenWorld’s Customer Experience track. Tomorrow:


  • Oracle Social’s Roadmap and Vision with Tara Roberts
  • Going From Likes to Love: Unlocking the Potential of Social with Erika Brookes
  • Converting Conversations to Currency with Reggie Bradford


We’ll try to make it the next best thing to being there.


@mikestiles

Friday Sep 20, 2013

Social Media Today Social Shakeup Roundup

wCongrats to Social Media Today for a very successful inaugural Social Shakeup in Atlanta this week. It’s an appropriate name for a conference as social is not only shaking up the way the public interacts with us as brands, but also shaking up the organization itself; mandating social be extended across all customer touch points, bringing the CIO and CMO closer, and offering vast amounts of social data that when married with enterprise data can yield stellar customer experiences.


Being a bit of a stream-watcher, I’m always interested in which takeaway tweets from conferences seem to resonate loudest. As we know, retweets and favorites don’t happen unless an emotional or intellectual chord gets tweaked. Seeing which points get the most “buzz” gives us telling insight into the current collective mindset of social marketers.


Tweet: @lizalgold (Liza Landsman) says social should be across multiple functions of the enterprise.

Thought: It’s exciting to see brands are quickly understanding the need for and inevitability of the socially enabled enterprise. Results of Oracle’s study with Leader Networks and SMT announced at the Shakeup reflect this as well.


Tweet: Brand voices are indistinguishable from each other. They're all the same 20-something year old person @briansolis (Brian Solis)

Thought: Your brand has an image, a personality, and it should be distinct. Many feel we’re homogenizing social with lazy, uncreative hiring decisions. If social voices are all the same, fans may as well just follow one Page called “Corporate America.”


Tweet: Maybe everyone who works in acquisition should work in retention first. @lizalgold (Liza Landsman)

Thought: This one got big engagement. Clearly there’s a strong feeling that knowing how to keep an existing customer happy is quite relevant to what you communicate to a new customer prospect. Is retention the harder of the two? Is it the more valuable one? Discuss.


landsmanTweet: From the customer perspective, "you either know me, or you don't know me." @lizalgold (Liza Landsman)

Thought: Customers are getting hard to dupe. They’re very aware of how much info about themselves they’ve given to you. If you show that despite that, you aren’t listening, know nothing about them, and don’t care, they feel appropriately devalued.


Tweet: Brands need to get over "jargonization." They have to start talking to people in the voice of the customer. @getsatisfaction (Wendy Lea)

Thought: There’s a growing realization the corporate-speak businesses love so much and get so excited about internally is a joke to real humans. For a public that values honesty and transparency, it makes you look like you’re obfuscating.


Tweet: People who Like you then never engage with your brand are as worthwhile as empty calories. @lizalgold (Liza Landsman)

Thought: Turns out as brands, we want customers to prove their love just like they want us to prove we care about them. Never calling, writing, shopping or buying shows no authentic love, and businesses are growing less interested in distant fans.


Tweet: A very different breed of employee is needed for social, one that's quick, nimble, human. @jay_bartlett (Jason Bartlett – Xerox)

Thought: Organizations are still grappling with the real-time nature of social. The PR flack with a hotline to legal that needs 5 weeks to craft and clear a tweet is now doing damage. The future belongs to employees who can and who aren’t afraid to be as social as the customer, and to the policies that empower them to do so.


solisTweet: CEO's need to be leaders, not just managers @briansolis (Brian Solis)

Thought: There’s a big difference. “Managing” tends to mean avoiding all possible disasters. “Leading” tends to mean actively urging and inspiring big things to happen. It means driving intelligent change and innovation. The engagement this got seems to indicate employees wish their leaders were doing more leading.


Tweet: In the org, social should cross swim lanes…but each lane has to know how to swim. @jay_bartlett (Jason Bartlett - Xerox)

Thought: Marketers feel like the socially enabled enterprise makes total sense, but each department has to integrate social to semi-equal effect for true cross-departmental social integration to happen.


Tweet: One way to express value is ROI. But it's not the ONLY way to express value. @sheldrake (Philip Sheldrake – Euler Partners)

Thought: Will we one day have an indisputable formula that connects every sale to a tweet? Perhaps. But it’s more likely a buyer is influenced over time from a combination of various touch points and info resources. Until the magic formula comes along, we have to be able to tell value stories that positively connect social to stated, measurable business objectives.


Tweet: Putting out short, shareable "social white papers" has led to 25% more leads and at lower cost for UPS @brianpember (Brian Pember - UPS)

Thought: It’s a content thing. Do you want your prospects to actually read your assets or just download them so you can get the lead capture? If you want content read (and shared), get your head out of your corporate asset-making and start communicating the way humans like consuming info.


Overall, sounds like marketers think things still need a good shaking up. Yes we’re steadily embracing what needs to be done in terms of brands relationships with customers, but the task of getting old line thinking, staffing, limitations and processes out of the way still seems to be a daunting one.


@mikestiles

Tuesday Sep 17, 2013

New Study Reveals the Degree to Which Social Business is Being Embraced

office chairsSpecifically, what are organizations in 2013 really thinking about the importance of becoming a socially enabled enterprise? A study from Oracle, Leader Networks and Social Media Today presented for the first time this morning at Social Media Today’s “Social Shakeup” in Atlanta gives us some interesting insight.


In the midst of changing roles for IT and marketing thanks to the social revolution, we wanted to take a good look at how social platform adoption is affecting internal operations and customer-facing initiatives. Respondents were organizations with 100 or more employees that use a social platform, representing over 20 industries and 52 countries.


We’ve talked a lot about the socially enabled enterprise in previous blogs, so maybe it’s time to clearly define it: “A set of collaborative processes that have the potential to yield improved business processes that are customer-driven such as faster time to market with new products and services, more successful research and development outcomes and refined market messages that are explicitly influenced by customer needs.”


Do organizations want to be socially enabled? Are they putting what’s needed in place to achieve it? Are they reorganizing internally to accommodate it? See the full PowerPoint and sign up to get the white paper in its entirety upon its October release. But…


I don’t like waiting either, so let’s go ahead and give you the highlights.

chart 1


  • Organizations are definitely adopting social platforms. Most are using 3-5 of them.
  • The bigger organizations (50,000+ employees) are much farther along in becoming socially enabled enterprises. Nearly half of them say they already are socially enabled.
  • 63% think it’s very important that their company be socially enabled, and becoming socially enabled is regarded as part of the strategic agenda.
  • The transition toward being socially enabled isn’t expected to be a cakewalk. 43% of executives say it’ll take their organizations over a year to truly leverage social throughout their businesses.
  • At the moment, marketing metrics like awareness, customer satisfaction and share of voice are the top social business performance metrics. That’s followed by lead gen & sales and new product development.
  • Respondents anticipate significant growth in the use of insights from social platforms. But right now, most use them within departments for informal learning.
  • The growth in social platform utilization has had a significant or transformational impact on the way 1/3 of respondents interact with customers. 60% plan to integrate social business metrics into customer care initiatives in the next 12 months.
  • Interestingly, organizations outside of the U.S. are significantly more likely to use social business insights for new product development and R&D.


Out of this, a profile of the socially enabled enterprise has started to emerge. It’s a business that has a strategy for using social insights to improve business functions, that’s linking social strategies to operational plans, and that has strong & collaborative leadership.


Is that you?


Group VP of the Oracle Social Cloud Platform Meg Bear said, “As this study shows, business executives now understand that creating a socially enabled enterprise can create better customer experiences, enable more responsive internal networks and drive organizational efficiencies. This combination gives organizations of all sizes a significant competitive advantage.”


So if you happen to like having the advantage, don’t forget to get on the list for the October release!


@mikestiles
Photo: stock.xchng

Friday Sep 13, 2013

What’s the Point of Your Social? Understanding the Path to Social Relationship Management ROI

You know what smart people do?  They seek out smarter people. So in an attempt to be smart, I grabbed Trip Kucera, Senior Research Analyst at the Aberdeen Group to see what they’re discovering about how organizations are approaching social ROI. Trip leads the Marketing Effectiveness and Strategy practice and is well aware that in many C-suites, ROI is the stick in the spokes that’s slowing down adoption of the socially enabled enterprise.


Spotlight: Why should CEO’s, CMO’s, and CIO’s start taking social seriously?

Trip: Several weeks ago, we witnessed the latest in a string of social media follies when a British Airways customer purchased a promoted Tweet to express his displeasure with the service. Social has long been an echo chamber of complaints, some warranted and some not, but this may be one of the first times a customer actually invested their own money to be heard. That’s a milestone in the evolution of the empowered customer and not the last of it we’ll see as advertising gets put in the hands of the average consumer.


Spotlight: Ah, so the damage an upset customer can do should be factored in to social ROI. There’s a cost to getting it wrong?

Trip: Disgruntled customers are nothing new, and brands are wise not to overreact to every complaint lodged on Twitter and Facebook. But such moments put a new wrinkle on how organizations consider the ROI of their social relationship management strategies. A social strategy that might have more effectively addressed the customer’s concern probably isn’t going to immediately generate revenue or reduce costs, but something beyond a 9-5 social presence as was the case for BA probably seems like a pretty good investment in hindsight.

Figure: Leaders Put Brand Image on Top



Spotlight: I know you’ve got research on how much brands are expecting social to directly result in leads, so spill it.

Trip: Over the last few years, brands have built up their social communities with the hope of eventually figuring out how to convert likes into leads. But we’ve seen an interesting evolution in the focus on social strategies in Aberdeen’s research. In late 2011, social demand generation or customer acquisition was identified as the top strategic action. But in Aberdeen’s most recent survey, the largest percentage of top-performing companies are focused on improving the image of the brand, with direct demand generation/customer acquisition coming in as the 2nd most adopted strategy, but the top among all companies combined and Followers separately. (Aberdeen’s methodology identifies the high and low performers in a given survey and uses this to identify best practices as the strategies and capabilities used by top performing firms)


Spotlight: So brands are coming around? They see social as belonging at the top of the funnel as opposed to being a “closer”?

Trip: Well, this prioritization suggests a maturing of social relationship management priorities and maybe a more nuanced sense of payback for investing in it. These firms are banking on the fact that positive social brand image will convert to brand equity.

The trust in this conversion is evident in the social metrics preferred by Leaders, which show a bias towards monetization. Seventy percent (70%) of Leaders rank inbound website traffic as “valuable” or “very valuable” in measuring the impact of social relationship management (4 or 5 on 1-5 value scale) vs. 54% of Followers; and 60% of Leaders indicate marketing leads/conversions as “valuable” or “very valuable” (compared with 59% of Followers). Interestingly, social sentiment, a direct measure of positive brand resonance on social, appears towards the bottom of the list.


Figure: No Vanity Here - Leaders Prefer Business Impact Measure



Spotlight: Now you’re making me dizzy. So they’re using social for brand image as a strategy, but they want to see leads as the metric.

Trip: This juxtaposition points to the evolution and maturity of social relationship management, along with an understanding that the path to value isn’t necessarily a direct line. At a strategy level, firms are focused on building capabilities that support positive brand image (and actively engineer opportunities for engagement), but they ultimately will measure the impact in terms of real, tangible business benefits, rather than vanity metrics.


Spotlight: So basically, the path toward becoming a brand Leader in social involves little more than getting it right…using the right tools and executing the right strategies.

Trip: It’s hard to tell exactly what the impact of a more proactive social relationship management initiative on the part of British Airways might have been. But aggregated data from Aberdeen’s Social Relationship Management study shows cumulative adoption of best practices makes a tangible difference for firms. One of the key metrics we use to determine Leaders is the year-over-year change in positive social mentions of the brand or product, directly aligned to the top strategic action. On average, Leaders generate 114% more website traffic from social activity vs. Followers (11.5% vs. 5.4%) and 55% higher leads/conversions from social compared to Followers (4.0% vs. 2.6%).


Spotlight: Now that I know Aberdeen has all this great data, you know I’m going to come back to you for more of it, right?

Trip: I’m looking forward to it Mike.  Social relationship management has clearly moved past the experimental phase, but there’s always a place for data that can help marketers and executives better chart their path.

@mikestiles
Photo: bschwehn, stock.xchng

Tuesday Sep 10, 2013

Are Your Customers Attacking or Helping You?

sour lookNow that we know consumers have been empowered thanks to social and mobile, we should probably consider how they’re going to use that power.  I believe it was Spider-Man’s uncle who taught us, “With great power comes great responsibility.” Will customers use it for good or to make trouble for you? The answer likely rests on how well you’re executing customer service and organizing around the customer experience.


On a September 19th free webinar, Oracle’s Erika Brookes sits down with “Attack of the Customers” author Paul Gillin for a chat about why critics assault brands online and how that can be avoided. It’s important. Because from Gillin’s perspective, most organizations are woefully behind both in shifting to customer-centric practices and in extending social across the enterprise to every customer touch point.


Why should these things be priorities? Survival is one good reason. Consider Gillin’s example of lean, finely textured beef, or as it became publicly branded, pink slime. The movement against it began on social. Because the industry took its cues from what was covered in the traditional media, they never saw it coming. Gillin says the largest maker almost went bankrupt, and the 2nd largest did go bankrupt within months.


Businesses can no longer afford not to listen to customers, wherever they may be congregating and talking about you. Jeff Bezos has called what’s going on “word of mouth on steroids.” And brands are not in control of these conversations, social users are. Bloggers are. Customers are. The best a brand can do is be where the conversations are happening and participate in them. Unhappy customers, who have experienced a bad product or abuse/neglect can and will find each other very quickly. Consequently, customer neglect as standard practice is becoming terminal.


And yet…58% of consumers have tweeted about a bad brand experience and never received a response of any kind. Mind you this is happening at a time when especially Millennials fully expect customer service on social. If they hold you accountable for it, thank them. People criticize because they want you to be better. It’s a positive. If you listen and co-create with those who care enough to “attack,” you’ll survive…and win.


Attack coverThese vocal, social consumers are forcing evolution inside organizations. Marketing is becoming analytics-driven, making it IT’s responsibility to align and facilitate. But here too, Gillin believes only about 2% of enterprises are appropriately socially enabled across departments. He feels most CIO’s still view social as a problem, a security threat, and a time waste.


For those who are forward thinking and who are willing to change and adapt as quickly as the consumer, integrated social insights from a social relationship management platform will lead to powerful, targeted engagements and actions, and thus, superior consumer experiences.


So, do you regard consumer criticism as an attack or an assist? Are your brand’s policies truly customer focused, or are they coming from a purely defensive posture? Tune in to the webinar to get Gillin’s four types of customer aggressors and how to deal with them, as well as three immediate customer experience action items for businesses both large and small.


@mikestiles
Photo: stock.xchng

Friday Sep 06, 2013

Mobile Social Raises the Customer Experience Stakes

pokerAs organizations embrace the realization that today’s consumers are empowered in ways like never before, the task becomes meeting customer experience expectations when those customers engage their brands on mobile and social.


Boy is that easier said than done. In a recent Social Media Today webinar, VP Product Strategy for Oracle Cloud-Social Erika Brookes and 60 Second Communications CEO Jamie Turner agreed that mobile and social are no longer two separate things. They’ve merged into the primary way consumers want to interact with providers of goods and services.


They also agreed customer expectations of brands today aren’t necessarily new, just different. When consumers have a need, they want to be able to reach the brand, they want the brand to answer, and they want an actionable solution within a reasonable period of time. What Mobile Social does add to the equation is that it doesn’t allow brands to quietly get away with failing miserably at customer service.


Nor will it allow a brand to get away with bringing up the rear technology-wise without paying a price. If there is no clean, useful mobile experience that accomplishes what customers want to do, they will a) publicly bash you for it, b) leave and go look for someone else who can give them what they need, or c) both a and b.


Studies show that 67% of people are more likely to purchase from a brand with a mobile-friendly site, and more likely to return to that site. Yet only 1/3 of businesses say mobile optimization is a top priority. Brookes thinks that number should be much higher because mobile is where CX is being played out. A non-existent or negative mobile social experience is akin to trying to drive with the emergency brake on.


It’s the C-suite that has to take the emergency brake off, sending down the firm message that it matters and understanding the business value of CX. For instance, Turner feels social is stronger as a customer retention tool than as an acquisition tool. Stats say if you can reduce churn 5%, you can increase profits 25-125%. Yes, marketers have led the way, but this is not a marketing-only endeavor. Departments must integrate for a seamless, personalized customer experience that affects P&L.


Brookes says it’s an internal revolution that’s not going to happen overnight, but there’s a huge opportunity to take signals from social and use them to initiate one-on-one customer service interaction. To make that happen, integrated tools are a must. The age of the standalone solution is slipping away as a much larger, shared view of the customer is required in order to meet them where they are and get them what they need.


They’re expecting nothing less.


@mikestiles
Photo: stock.xchng

Tuesday Sep 03, 2013

Content for the Masses…Fails

empty seatsI know, you want all your content to please everybody and make them all want to buy your stuff that instant.  That would be cool. But once we come back from daydream land, we should grasp that all content is not the same. All content is not made for the same purpose. And all content is not made for the same audience.

Have you ever shopped for a car and within 10 minutes of being on the lot were asked by the pushy salesperson, “Hey, what do I have to do to get you in this car today?” Maybe you’re just researching. Maybe you’d like some info or a test drive first. The salesman hit you with the wrong message at the wrong time. His content was not crafted for or aimed at the target.

Annoying, yet as brands, we’re doing this every day, sometimes multiple times a day. We’re making whatever content we can, then throwing it out there to see if anything sticks. Content should be aimed at a specific audience with specific problems, goals, emotions and motivations.

Just as there’s a sales funnel (which has actually shifted into a sales cycle or buying journey), there should be a corresponding content funnel that respects and acts on where the intended consumer of that content is in the buying journey. Do that and you’ll wind up with something you might not have at the moment…a content strategy.

Most organizations do this by developing personas. Note that “personas” is plural. There are a lot of different stages, motivations and variables in the buying cycle. Creating content customized and accurately targeted to each is a huge task…one that comes at a time when most brands are struggling just to create quality content at all.

Which is all the more reason to make sure the content you are going to resource and make will be as effective for you as possible. That means intimately knowing whom you’re talking to via data and social listening tools, learning how likely a prospect they are, predicting through analytics what questions they have, and serving up content that will move them into the next stage of the cycle where further targeted content awaits.

Remember, a significant amount of the decision-making process is already done by the time actual contact is made with the vendor. Customers at the top of the funnel are information gathering, staying in the shadows as much as they can. Their openness to your product and message is quite different here than it would be closer to the sale. Even the wording of your messaging must take into account that prospects have a different relationship with you at each stage, just as in real life.


Six Revisions has a really nice snapshot of
what the content funnel looks like at each stage.


*Awareness: the customer is becoming aware of your company, so content answers very general questions about your space or industry.
*Interest: their curiosity about you is piqued, so content answers questions about the product.
*Desire: they want your product, now content should move it from their wish list to their to-do list.
*Action: they’re doing what it takes to buy it, so content should answers purchase and service logistics.

A&E’s “Duck Dynasty” is the
biggest unscripted show in cable history and close to becoming the biggest cable show in history period. If your content can be mass appeal and that successful, knock your lights out. But for marketers, success means conversion of unaware all the way to purchase, and that takes a lot more personalization.

@mikestiles
Photo: stock.xchng

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