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

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

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