By adaptive - April 1st, 2012
As corporations complete constructing their social media channels what’s next in this brave new world? Social media 1.0 was all about building your corporation’s Facebook page, or setting up...
As corporations complete constructing their social media channels what’s next in this brave new world?
Social media 1.0 was all about building your corporation’s Facebook page, or setting up a Twitter account. Most corporations have now at least built a basic social presence that interfaces with their marketing and in some cases their CRM support.
A recent report from Forrester clearly indicated that corporations now have social media firmly on their roadmaps stating that they see how social media has fundamentally changed how brands now interact with their customers. The author of the report – Tracy Stokes commenting that organisations are now “stepping back to see how the jigsaw fits into their marketing plan.”
This is good news as the same report indicates that nearly two-thirds of online consumers are active on social networks, and what’s more, want to interact with brands using these spaces. Increasingly CRM is being handled via tweets for instance.
Research commissioned by Janrain, provider of User Management solutions for the social web, highlighted that 85% of UK consumers would prefer social login - the ability for consumers to use their social media identity to register and log in to a brand’s website – to be made available over traditional online registration.
Russell Loarridge, European Sales Director, Janrain, comments, “With Gartner predicting that 80% of discretionary buying from consumers will be driven through effective digital marketing, Janrain’s research clearly indicates that it is time for organisations to focus on the core requirements: social login exploits the proven security expertise of social networks, removes barriers and, critically, provides a platform for truly effective user engagement.”
Now the mechanical aspects of the social media platforms have been taken care of, what is phase two? The report from Forrester asked the question: “Social media has the potential to build my brand, but I’m not sure how to capitalize on it.” About half of the respondents agreed with this statement clearly illustrating that corporations are ready to take the next step and develop their social networks to version 2.0 once they understand how they should approach these consumer-driven environments.
One of the fundamental aspects of corporate social media 2.0 is going to be the ability of your company to find meaning in the tsunami of data that is now flooding into your business via the social networks. At no other time has data been such an important commodity.
Indeed, consumers have shifted their attitude with the advent of social media and will actively share their profiles – including of course their commercially valuable buying habits – with brands they trust and can positively engage with. This level of engagement is one of the foundations of what corporate social media 2.0 means in today’s markets.
A new infographic sponsored by IBM created from a new Interactive Advertising Bureau study into the opportunities that ‘big data’ can offer to marketers, clearly shows that the interrogation of the information your corporation has is vitally important. Social media 2.0 will mean finding key trends within the data your business gathers in a number of fundamental areas including:
- Audience Optimization
Identifying customers and likely prospects through the integration of rich (though disparate) first and third-party data sources; managing cross-channel marketing execution with the goal of engaging those audiences strategically—and in accordance with consumers’ preferred advertising media.
- Channel Optimization
Brands that are able to integrate multichannel data across channels—effectively becoming “agnostic” to the deployment of any single medium—hold the prospect of creating holistic, near-360-degree views of customer preferences and intent regardless of channel. The result is more relevant advertising—delivered at the optimal time, via the consumer’s preferred channels.
- Advertising Yield Optimization
Maximizing the value of available advertising inventory by identifying and “selling” high-value audiences across individual publisher properties and delivery media.
- Targeted Media Buying
Enabling the economical, value-oriented purchase of advertising media; delivering targeted messages to audiences across a diverse, actionable range of channels.
What is clear is that social media 2.0 not only means exploiting the data you have, but applying that new found insight to deliver meaningful messages to develop lasting relationships with customers.
The social spaces that all brands must now master as they move their companies into social media 2.0 will mean becoming more savvy with the digital technology they use. This is the conclusion of the PwC Digital IQ survey that finds that top-performing U.S. organizations show greater mastery in how they leverage digital technologies by offering mobile tools for customers, measuring data through social media, mobilizing applications to the public cloud and the innovative use of business intelligence.
“Raising a firm’s Digital IQ means improving the way it leverages digital technologies and channels to meet customer needs,” said John Sviokla, principal at PwC. “The core of the ecosystem for innovation has moved from inside the firm to out in the marketplace. Customer and employee expectations are being shaped by this new, dynamic and exciting environment—if you miss this trend you will be increasingly irrelevant to the market.”
In addition, social media has changed the rules of engagement within the purchase cycle that traditionally followed the AIDA (attention-interest-desire-action) model. Andrea Fishman, VP of global strategy and partner at interactive agency BGT Partners advocates a different approach telling ClickZ: “Stop thinking of how to apply social media to your current channels. Use the two-way nature of social media to engage in conversations that accelerate the buying cycle. Create "social only" offers that take advantage of the immediacy of the Internet. Use sentiment and activity data to spot trends sooner - and apply that knowledge to your product pricing and promotional strategies. Social media may present challenges to your current model, but that may be just what you need to invigorate your media plan.”
In advance of their presentations at this year’s Corporate Social Media Summit, Useful Social Media spoke with two speakers who gave their insight into what social media 2.0 means to them.
Todd Blecher (TB). Communications and Social Media Director at Boeing
Todd’s key role at Boeing has been to lead an enterprise-wide team implementing the transformation of Boeing’s primary external websites into engaging communications, vs. strictly informational, platforms. This involves the company’s first broad external use of social media tools, the results of which can be seen at www.boeing.com, @boeing, @boeingairplanes, @boeingdefense, and www.facebook.com/boeingstore.
Jill Hunley (JH). VP, Global Social Media and Online Engagement at AVG
Jill is a consumer Internet and eCommerce professional with seventeen years of experience across marketing, social media, product management, engineering, and program management. Known as an innovative thought leader who has strategic agility and the ability to execute and deliver business results. She understands how to lead the transition from strategy to execution, leveraging analytics and customer insights, and building scalable solutions with a primary focus on the customer experience.
Q What do you think are the key trends within the social media space that corporations should be paying attention to now?
TB This kind of question usually gets framed around social tools and networks from the perspective of identifying the next Pinterest or Facebook or Flipboard. While any organization using social media should keep an eye on new tools, I think most should resist the temptation to be first, unless they are specifically staffed and resourced for that kind of experimentation.
Rather than consider trends I’d suggest it’s more useful to consider to fundamental truths of social media success. One is the fact that embracing real-time engagement and transparency is essential to successful social media yet it is so challenging for many organizations to do. It can be quite difficult for organizations that aren’t steeped in an engaging, outwardly focused, culture to use social media well. Changing a culture can be a herculean, frustrating task. But if it is something that’s necessary for your organization’s future there are plenty of examples to learn from. The military is one.
The second is the evolving world of social metrics. This is a confusing area because so few organizations have really figured out what to measure and how to do so cost effectively, yet so many providers claim to have the solution. I have no unique insights here. I don’t really know how valuable a Facebook fan is or what the correct engagement score would be. I do know that we’d all like to figure it out and have one metrics dashboard that was easy to use and fused the data into actionable information. If somebody really nails this they are going to make a billion dollars.
JH I believe the majority of companies still need to focus on the fundamentals. This involves understanding your customers, and why they engage with your brand through social media. Customers use social media to do research on your brand, find deals and giveaways, obtain customer support for problems, etc., yet many company’s social media properties only focus on promoting marketing messages and simple engagement tactics.
It’s also still relatively nascent to have a holistic social media strategy that’s integrated across a company’s website and within the products. Social media techniques such as contests and giveaways, advocacy, community engagement, customer support, etc. are becoming more sophisticated, and will continue to do so as the platforms and tools evolve.
Q In your view how do the social media networks need to be evolve in order to deliver real world commercial gains for the corporations using them?
TB A few things come to mind, in no particular order. Any network should be easy to use. Updating content should be a breeze. A network should offer administrators a plethora of data, that doesn’t cost extra, about user demographics and behaviours.
I recognize that privacy issues come into play but a network can’t expect organizations to invest a lot of time and effort into using something that doesn’t offer useful data. For any network, transitions among platforms should be seamless. I should be able to figure out within seconds how to use the tool on a laptop, a tablet, or a smart phone. As a publisher I want my content to be accessible anytime the community seeks to access it.
JH A few years ago, social media platforms and tools would define a company’s social media approach. Today it’s the reverse - companies can define their social media strategy, and the tools and platforms are robust enough to support most approaches.
Social media networks have proven to be effective customer engagement channels for consumer-focused businesses, but B2B companies are still challenged to harness the value of social media. Real world commercial gains tend to be myopically focused on revenues, but social media can contribute to all aspects of the consumer lifecycle from brand awareness through the purchase cycle and the resulting brand affinity.
Q Engagement and brand advocacy are currently the key components of a corporations’ social media activity. How will this change as we move into the era of social media 2.0?
TB I don’t see those changing no matter how social media evolves. Engagement is, and I believe always will be, the catalyst for success. It isn’t a trend. It’s the building block. At the same time, brand advocacy is what most organizations have been after since the dawn of organizations. That may manifest among community members as a purchase or public admiration for a product or even calling an elected official. But those kinds of behaviours are what organizations need and social media provides a cost effective way of cultivating them.
JH I believe this will be a gradual evolution. Within companies there is typically some scrutiny on the ROI of their social media efforts, and engagement and brand advocacy aren’t quantifiable enough for the executive suite. Executives and business owners tend to be focused on the revenues and profitability of their business, and social media 1.0 doesn’t directly contribute to revenues in most cases. There will likely be a push for social media to become a revenue-producing channel within corporations, which will be a catalyst for evolution of the current platforms, tools, and techniques.
Q How do you think the social media tools we have at the moment need to expand and adapt to deliver the services and insight that corporations need to deliver the commercial data they are looking for as social media 2.0 develops?
TB This area is less about the tools and more about the people behind the tools. I’m not sure how many of them really understand the information organizations need in order to gain approvals, and sustain support, for using any tool. I’d like to see more collaboration in a way that’s insulated from a network’s sales imperative. Earn my businesses by proving that you understand my needs and you are willing to partner with me for the long term. If you’re into sales mode within the first five minutes of a conversation I’m pretty sure I’m not going to do business with you.
JH Many companies have very well established data and metrics for insights and reporting. Social media is playing catch-up, and is rapidly evolving. The social media monitoring and analytics tools will need to eventually become as robust as the more established channels, but its challenging given the high volume of unstructured data.
Q Is social media 2.0 all about the data and what it can tell corporations about their markets, customers and commercial partners?
TB Social media 1.0, 2.0, or 10.0 is all about that. If you want a corporation to use your tool, and most tool managers do, you have to provide that kind of data affordably and easily.
JH That’s definitely a piece of it, but companies can leverage current social media platforms and tools to gain those insights today. The challenge is making that a priority, and having an efficient feedback-loop with the different areas of the business such as marketing, product management, and technology.
Q If you had a wish list of what social media 2.0 could deliver, what would be on your list?
TB My wish list would include: Ease of use. Actionable, affordable, and accessible data. Seamless user experience across platforms and devices. Content management simple enough for a 10-year-old. And robust, affordable, monitoring.
JH The evolution from Social Media 1.0 to Social Media 2.0 is very similar to the evolution of eCommerce. Basic websites eventually implemented storefronts and started selling their products online. Companies then needed to provide support and other services around their products being sold online. Eventually a company’s online business was just as important as their offline brick-and-mortar business, and eCommerce became ubiquitous.
A similar evolution is happening with social media, where it will eventually become integrated into all aspects of a company’s business. Social Media 2.0 will be a step in that evolution. On my wish-list is better analytics and insights, more robust platforms for advocacy, better ways to target and engage with niche customer segments, and tighter integration across mobile / social / local for integrated apps and campaigns.
The future is social
Social media 2.0 is about taking the lessons – sometimes the hard way – and evolving a strategy that levers these experiences into engagement. Ultimately social media 2.0 is about what social media began as – a channel to develop closer relationships between brands and their customers – but now making and maintaining those connections over the long term.
Janrain’s Russell Loarridge concluded: “Consumers want to be engaged – and they are willing to share their profile with organisations in order to improve the online experience. It is those brands that are on the leading edge, that are innovating and providing a truly engaging consumer experience that are building stronger customer relationships and achieving a tangible increase in market share.”
For brands the next stage of their social media’s evolution is to take their platforms and the vast array of data they have and formulating a strategy that allows them to built loyalty, engagement and advocacy over the long term. Social media was a game changer for all brands. Those companies that can understand the next stage of social’s development will become market leaders in their sectors.
Social media 2.0 is all about using the tools, platforms and data that is available to craft engaging campaigns, or giving your corporation the ability to connect with its customer base on a more intimate level.
KLM are using the customer data they have to effectively make a connection with their passengers giving them small gifts they know will be appreciated. Catharine van Dijk, Manager Reputation and Content for Social Media at KLM explains: “Passenger uses KLM/#KLM/@KLM in tweet, and let us know that he or she is travelling with KLM. KLM finds out background info via the profile of passenger, how we can surprise him (hobbies, interests) and where we can find him (gate number). KLM buys little present and surprises the passenger. Little presents, nothing big, but very personal was the aim. Impact on passengers was huge. Lots of exposure and buzz.”
This approach to using social media illustrates how the channel has dramatically changed over a very short time. Social media 2.0 is about using the information your corporation has, and with imagination developing campaigns or advocacy for your brand.