MAD Perspectives Blog

Get Smart with Social Media Analytics

Peggy Dau - Wednesday, July 20, 2011



Last week I wrote about the importance of social intelligence.  The obvious companion to any kind of business or social intelligence is analytics.  Sure, it sounds boring -the collecting, crunching, parsing and analysis of massive amounts of data.  Yet, if done well, this data can reveal amazing insights about your brand, your customers and your competitors.

Business intelligence has been the holy grail of corporate america since the beginning of time.  of course in the "old days", this intelligence was gathered through human interaction and some possibly unethical behavior (can we say "News of the World").  Today, sophisticated applications collect data within a company to provide insight on sales performance, profit margins, supply chain effectiveness and more.  The challenge with these applications is that they primarily look at structured data from a historical perspective.

Social media has changed everything.  Not only has it changed the way we communicate, but it creates a lot of data!  This data can be collected and analyzed to provide real-time understanding of how your customers are talking about your company or your competitors.  A search on social media analytics will reveal a myriad of vendors.  Most of their solutions are available for a fee which is based on the number of keywords you decided to track.  The best vendors give you the ability to capture data and present it in a graphical manner.  They also allow you to drill deeper on the content presented.

Rather than regurgitate a list of vendors that can be found elsewhere, check out the review on socialmedia.biz.  Before testing any of these solutions, be clear about your goals and what data you really need.  Don't forget about the data you may already have and be sure to look at the complete picture.  Understanding your customer and how they are talking about your business can help you create and optimize marketing programs, customer service, acquisition strategies and more.  So, go ahead, get analytical.  It will help you get smart about your customers!

What's your perspective?
 



Social Media Is Driving Intelligence

Peggy Dau - Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Ok, you've jumped on the social media bandwagon. You're following industry pundits. You're checking competitor's blogs. You're tweeting, updating and blogging on behalf of your company.And, regardless of how much planning, aligning and preparing you've done, there are moments when you're wondering - WHY?  Sometimes as we become engrossed with the day to day activities, we forget about the big picture.  What is the benefit of all this social, online activity?


source:  Lee Bryant Headshift | Dachis Group June 2011

Aside from the basics of brand and market awareness, thought leadership, lead generation and customer service, social networks are a source of business intelligence. Think about the volume of data created EVERY day on the various social platforms. Data is the life blood of any enterprise business intelligence program. These programs now need to incorporate data generated and found on social platforms. The benefit of social media intelligence is that it is captured in real time. Whether you review the data daily, weekly or monthly, you can immediately see the volume, velocity and volatility of data about your company, your brand and your products. What does this data tell you?  It provides real-time insight about:

     - what your customers are talking about (industry, company, challenges, satisfaction product, service, sales, etc.)
     - how they are talking about it (emotion and frequency)
     - where they are talking about it (online and in real life)
    
There are many vendors who can help you capture and analyze this information. The key is to understand how you can use this data once it has been captured.  Social Intelligence will help you to:

     - refine your messaging to meet your customer's requirements
     - define where you need to be both physically and online (which events, which customers, what social platforms)
     - clarify how your present your content (website, social network, presentations, white papers, microsites, etc.)
     - improve products (features, upgrades) and services (contacts, solutions, availability of information) to improve customer satisfaction
     - enrich competitive insights

Get smart!  Increase your social business intelligence to benefit your business!

What's your perspective?



How do you Orchestrate Social Media?

Peggy Dau - Wednesday, June 15, 2011



I was recently in a meeting with a client when the marketing manager stated that all social media updates are reviewed by her or her team before being posted externally. After a bit of probing, I came to understand that her concern was about maintaining the company brand and the unintentional sharing of intellectual property. These are fair concerns, but they raised alarms for me. 

To be clear, my engagement with this client is not specific to social media.  They have hired an agency to help them with their efforts.  My concern is that with too much control, their social media communications will be flat and uninspired. Regardless of who helps them develop their social media plan, they will need to think about the company culture.  Her comments made me realize that this company does not have a culture of empowerment. They have been through many acquisitions and spin-offs, and the culture has been impacted by the continual shifting of leadership and ownership,

Like a symphony orchestra, each individual brings a unique tone to the overall production.
Social media is about being transparent and authentic
. If the director, stifles the soloist, the performance seems lacking. The role of the director is to infuse his musicians with and understanding and passion for a particular piece of music. Companies should consider a similar model.  If companies are concerned about their employees sharing inappropriate content, they should inform and educate their employees on the company goals for using social media, provide guidelines for content and ramifications for employees if they show poor judgement.  A company's culture and organizational structure can provide two of the biggest hurdles to social media success.  Take the time to understand your company's culture and the impact on communication style and channel, is critical when initiating your social media efforts. 

Recommendations for addressing these challenges include strategic planning to align the use of social media with clear goals and metrics, employee education, organize a hub and spoke social media team and constantly listen, review and assess.  Everyone I have talked to about social media shares that their experience has been trial and error.  It's ok to make a mistake.  Own it and move forward.  Your goal should be to orchestrate the efforts of your organization in such a way as to let individual personalities emerge and shine.  The content they share will reflect positively on your organization

How are your social media efforts proceeding?  What are your biggest challenges?  I'm interested to learn from you!

What's your perspective? 



Are You Mobile When You Are Social?

Peggy Dau - Wednesday, June 08, 2011

Where do you socialize?   At home?  When you're out with friends, family or colleagues.  Do you socialize at the office?  Yes - we all socialize everywhere and the social networks understand this.  While they started as online platforms accessible primarily at home, they are increasingly accessed via mobile devices such as IPads or Smartphones. 

In the B2B world, we've been addicted to voicemail, then email.  In our desire to stay connected (or should I say competitive), is social networking the next business addiction?

I've been reading articles about John Doerr's most recent investment strategy at Kleiner Perkins (the Silicon Valley venture capital firm) focused on
Social-Location-Mobile. It got me thinking about B2B social media and mobility. After all,

- 72% of the workforce is mobile.
- 64% of corporate decision makers are checking email on their mobile device.
- 70% of mobile users say that their cell phone is their primary communication channel.
- 72.5M smartphone users in the U.S.

Every leading social network (e.g., Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube, WordPress) has an app for iPhone and Android. Why? Each of these networks recognizes that we, the consumer or business owner, craves connectivity - wherever we are. In fact, as social media and the related social networks have become a pervasive part of our lives, we can now find others near us or invite colleagues to join us at a defined location.

It has been said that while social media allows us to make the connection, mobile apps ensure that we remain connected. From 2009 to 2010, there was a
240% surge in mobile social networking (Comscore MobiLens April 2010). For B2B users, the potential lies in making enterprise apps available for sales personnel. These teams are on the go - that's their job. How could mobile social networking help?

- sales managers stay in contact with their teams
- easy access to fast moving industry news about their customers and competitors
- sales on-demand supply chain updates to fulfill customer demands
- reminders from or updates to CRM systems

There is much buzz around Location Based Services.  In my opinion, it is still unclear how beneficial location based services will be for B2B. Companies have trialed location programs at conferences and exhibitions with mixed results.  With social networks evolving around location (FourSquare) or enabling location (Facebook) users are "checking in" and catching up with friends.  However, most sales people are not comfortable revealing their location due to competitive concerns.

Are you using social networking on the go? I post updates to my personal Facebook, I have 'checked in' occasionally.  For business, I am tied to LinkedIn and login throughout the day to check trending news amongst my contacts and group.  I'll be travelling in the UK for the next two weeks and I will definitely be accessing social media from my smartphone!

What's your perspective?



How Much Does Social Media Cost?

Peggy Dau - Wednesday, May 25, 2011

As I work with clients to help them understand social media, the first question they ask is "What is it going to cost?".  This is a fair question as the economy slooooowly moves forward.  The question of ROI is increasing rearing its ugly head, yet social media has a more tangible ROI than much traditional marketing.  That said, let's focus on the core question.  What does social media cost?

There is no standard answer, although almost everyone will tell you that "it depends".  The cost is dependent on your goals for using social media.  Who is your audience and market?  What kind of information are you sharing, or more importantly, what information do they want?  Do you have in house resources who can dedicate time to your social media plan and tactics?  Or do you need to hire outside resources?  have you assessed your content needs?  Do you have the time and resource to adapt existing content?  Do you have a commitment to developing new content?  How many social media networks will you utilize?  How will you manage these networks?

I'm not trying to scare you off!  I'm just trying to help you be realistic about the cost.  The cost is intricately tied to taking the time to define a plan, which will help you understand your current capabilities while identifying gaps that will impact the success of you social media strategy.  The cost is tied to human resource.  They may be your headcount or those of your social media consultancy (or PR firm, since many of them are expanding their services to include social media).

However, you still want to know what others are spending!  My thanks to the Altimeter Group and their commitment to open research (this means its FREE!).  Their report, How Corporations Should Prioritize Social Business Budgets, contains great recommendations and insight based on interviews with social strategists.  here are a few highlights:


The budget is not as uniquely tied to company size as it is related to the maturity of the company's social media plan and structure.  As maturity increases, the company actively aligns its resources into a more structured model.  Altimeter recommends a hub and spoke model where companies become more proactive, less reactive, with guidance for all employee social media participants comes from the hub.


Companies start their social media efforts with a focus on their website.  This makes sense despite the ongoing argument that social media networks will replace the need for a website.  I passionately disagree with this position and feel that your company's website is the core element of your overall marketing strategy.  Your website can consolidate more volumes and types of content than any social network.  That said, you can increase web traffic and highlight events (e.g., conferences, product launches, whitepapers, webinars, blogs) and other very important information very effectively using social media.  You've invested in SEO, don't arbitrarily send your hard earned audience to social sites by simply integrating community platform (e.g., Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn) badges on your homepage.  Consider how to bring your social community interaction to your website - where your audience can find the information they really need.



As expected, community platforms are the biggest investment.  These platforms (e.g., Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn) are where customer interaction is taking place.  This is where the conversations are happening, so it is no surprise that the initial investment of time and money is focused in this area.  This focus reinforces the desire to understand what your customers are saying - and why.  With investments already made in brand monitoring, it is critical to own community platforms where customer needs can be addressed in real time.

There is a cost so social media.  There is also a cost to not participating in social media.  There is an expectation by your customers that you will be social.  You can determine what types of social media activity work best for your company and your brand.   Consider the questions posed earlier in this blog and think about how social media can enhance your interactions with your customers.  Isn't it worth the investment?

What's your perspective?



Do Your Social Media Efforts Reflect Your Brand?

Peggy Dau - Wednesday, April 20, 2011

This week we continue our Brand and Social Media series with a disucssuion about aligning your social efforts with your brand.


With all the hype about social media, we may have forgotten that any social media marketing efforts must be aligned with your brand! When leveraging the myriad of social media outlets, it is important to keep the core tenants of your brand in mind. Social media provides you with additional channels through which you can communicate and interact with your target audience. Social media allows your message to be broadcast and shared widely, globally and freely.

With this openness in mind, what do you need to consider when establishing your social media strategy – particularly as it relates to your brand? First, don’t forget what your brand is.  We reviewed this  last week.  Remember, your brand is a promise. Your use of social media should reinforce that promise and provide a level of transparency and authenticity that invites engagement from your target markets. How can social media help?

Social media platforms should visually and contextually reflect your brand.  Consistency of logo, color and voice are important. Of these three, voice is the most critical.  What is the voice of your brand?  Are you fun, knowledgeable, edgy, caring, geeky, innovative. Understanding your voice should drive how you communicate via your social channels. For example, if you are innovative, your social communications should provide insight to market trends that your company is addressing, share your opinions on the impact of these trends and how your company will act to influence a shift in the market.

Now that you’ve aligned your social efforts with your brand and discovered your voice, it’s time to ENGAGE! Do I need to ask why you want to interact with your customers? Engagement with your customers WILL lead to business. It will lead to greater knowledge about what your customers and prospects are thinking and saying about your brand. It will help you become proactive instead of reactive. As you engage, remember what your brand stands for and provide consistency in terms of voice and topic. While it may be fun to share your thoughts on random topics, you are socializing on behalf of your brand. Your tweets, Facebook posts, Slideshare presentations or YouTube videos should be relevant to your brand, your company, your products or your industry.

Just in case you are still wondering why you should consider social media as a key aspect of your brand strategy, check out these data points from Forrester Research and Business Week:

  •      - 67 percent of Twitter users who become followers of a brand are more likely to buy that brand's products

         - 60 percent of Facebook users who become a fan of a brand are more likely to recommend that brand to a friend

         - 74 percent of consumers are influenced on buying decisions by fellow users after soliciting input via social media

    are influenced on buying decisions by fellow users after soliciting input via social media

Your brand is your calling card.  Social Media must reinforce your brand. Think about your brand and your voice before you engage – but definitely ENGAGE!

What’s your perspective?



Brands - Don't Make Promises You Can't Keep!

Peggy Dau - Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Branding and Social Media are now intrinsically tied together.  In thinking about the importance of your brand and the use of social media channels, we reached out to our friends at Taylor O’Brien for some insight.  As a result, for the next six weeks, our blogs will discuss the importance of brand and the impact of social media. Thanks to Christina Brusendorff of Taylor O’Brien for her wisdom and contribution!

 



by Christina Brusendorff

 

Brands were born the day a shop owner first thought to put a name and long on their store front.  Back then they were a competitive tool used to separate a business from the local competition and encourage recognition. Today brands are still employed for such purposes but they perform on a global scale (their reach even surpass the confines of this planet), their use is far more sophisticated and their value has become critical to sales, employment and the financial value of a company.

A brand is often defined as:

The set of physical attributes of a product or service, together with the beliefs and expectations surrounding it - a unique combination which the name or logo of the product or service should evoke in the mind of the audience. - Marketing Institute

While these attributes are all true, it doesn't describe the essence of what a brand is.

In a culture where consumers are empowered through knowledge and choice, engagement is imperative, the construction of brands is prevalent and reality is perception.  Companies need to be more transparent and clear about their offering, value and proposition. A brand helps a business achieve this.

A brand is essentially a promise that a business makes, either to its customers or to its clients, and then delivers through its brand strategy.  Through a visual identity, a clear proposition and strong key messages consistently communicated through relevant touch points, a brand can evoke awareness, loyalty and emotions within consumers, clients and employees.  Such touch points can be anything from an internal publication to a shop floor worker, a TV or radio advertisement or an integrated social media campaign. 

Simply having a rand is, however, not enough. The promise it makes needs to be realistic and grounded in a business' strengths, but most importantly it needs to be aligned to a business' strategy. Only then can a brand hope to deliver its promise successfully.

The importance of aligning brand strategy with business strategy will be explored further in the third part of this 'Brand and Social Media' series.  Next week 'Your Brand and Social Media'

What's your perspective?

 



Do Your Execs Believe in Social Media?

Peggy Dau - Thursday, April 07, 2011

I've been thinking about how companies get started using social media. External usage tends to be led by the marketing team. Their focus is on sharing company and product information with customers to increase brand awareness, thought leadership and ultimately lead generation. This does not mean that that companies are not focused on other uses (think Dell, Comcast or Jet Blue have not focused on customer service. We've read and heard about leaders in social media. But, I'm now thinking about how company leadership influence adoption or use of social media.

There are great case studies about Marriott, Cisco and Best Buy (to name a few) and how CEOs at these companies "got it" when thinking about the benefits of social media. However, many c-level execs think in a traditional hierarchical organization mindset. They raise concerns about risk, security and confidentiality. For me, this begs the question about leadership style. Do certain types of business leaders just "get it" easier than others, or are they just throwing caution to the wind?

In her book "Open Leadership" Charlene Li, shares her thoughts on how social technology can change the way you lead. She presents great examples of companies who have experienced success. She shares case studies on how social media has influenced leadership and culture. She also talks about the best mind set for open leadership:  passion for the vision, focus on relationships and a hacker mentality (by this she means dissatisfaction with the status quo). But still, I wonder, is that enough. I've experienced many leaders who had passion for "their" vision, focused on relationships (with customers, industry leaders or peers and executive peers within their company), yet, their support for social media was tepid at best.

Social media requires openness. Are leaders open? Social media is collaborative. Are leaders collaborative?  Social media requires trust. Are leaders trusting?  Social media is authentic. Are leaders authentic? In fact, this last question is the big issue that faced many of the top executives at financial services and automotive firms during the economic crisis. There is a significant cultural shift underway, enabled by social technology, that is bringing openness back to big business. Do customers and employees trust executives? Once upon a time, yes. Once upon a time companies were transparent. 

My career alma mater, HP, is a classic example. The HP of Bill and Dave was one of collaboration, innovation and openness. Trust was paramount. However, the HP of the past few years is hierarchical and siloed with employees living in fear of making a mistake that might cost them their job. Communication flows downstream and is edited and reshaped until it loses meaning. Power is craved and held tightly. The culture of open communication is long dead and the bottom line has become the driving force (and perhaps that is partly Wall Street's fault) of all activity. 

Executive support is critical for social media success. What leadership characteristics are needed to drive social media success from the top? I recently read "Leadership and Self Deception" by The Arbinger Institute. Their advice (adapted a bit for my own purposes) is relevant:

     - Don't try to be perfect - try to be better!
     - Don't use vocabulary people don't understand. Be clear and true to your own principles.
     - Don't impose your fears, confusion or uncertainty on others. Assume the best!
     - Don't give up when you make a mistake. Apologize and move forward.
     - Don't focus on what others are doing wrong. Focus on what you can do right to help!
     - Don't worry if others aren't helping you. Focus on helping others.

If your executives and senior leadership exhibit these characteristics (they sound awfully social don't they?!), your company can successfully implement social media tactics to engage customers. That is the goal, right? A meaningful social media strategy requires support and involvement from executives and employees across the company.  Employees won't feel empowered to be authentic and transparent unless their leadership also exhibits those traits.  Customers are demanding honesty and openness.  Social media is the desired method for this style of communication.  Are you ready?  Are your executives ready?

What's your perspective?



Is Your Social Media Plan Balanced?

Peggy Dau - Tuesday, March 01, 2011

Today's Web-Strategy post by Jeremiah Owyang really struck a chord with me.  In it he reflects on the dramatic shift by marketers towards excessive use of micro tools.  While these tools, aka Twitter, are fantastic for broadcasting a quick message, creating momentary awareness, searching for trending topics and sharing instantaneous opinions, they do not provide depth.  As each new social platform hits the market, we race toward it and test its use.   But, is our usage across social media platforms and across all marketing outlets balanced? 

I'm a big fan of having a social media plan.  In defining the plan, a company should be thinking about how each of the various social platforms works, the audience they reach and how they fulfill the company's business goals.  What do I mean about how they work?  I mean what kind of content can be shared?  Is it brief?  Is it meaningful?  Does it fulfill a customer need?  How long will your content reside on the platform and be visible?  In most cases your content is available on the platform indefinitely.  The challenge is in how many customers actually see it.

How about your audience.  Do you know which social platforms your customers are using to both share and seek content?  If they are not on Facebook (just for the sake of argument), then why are you?  A social strategy .that assumes a need to be on the every platform, is not a well thought out strategy.  Every companay needs to think about who their customers are and the kind of information they need to consume.  C-level execs want overviews with key value propositions.  Technologists want the gory details.  Business leaders want to understand market trends and know what industry influencers are saying.  Seekers of business solutions want information and education.

It takes a balance of both online and offline marketing to fulfill customer needs.  It takes an understanding of customer need and the role of different platforms to communicate effectively.  Jonathan Owyang provides great guidance in his blog as to relevant platforms, so I'm not going to reinvent the wheel.  Check out his thoughts and think about how the platforms he references can provide balance to your social media strategy.

What's your perspective?



Social Media Lessons from the Snow!

Peggy Dau - Tuesday, February 01, 2011



It's been quite a winter here in the northeast.  There has been a snow storm every week since Christmas.  The snow is pile high by the roads, driveways and sidewalk – and we’re all wondering where we’re going to put the snow from this next storm.  I’ve been wondering if there are any lessons to be learned, about social media, from all this snow.   I think there are:

 - You can’t stop it.  Nope, you can’t stop mother nature, nor can you ignore the impact of social media.  It’s all around us.  Everyone is using it from individuals to stay in touch with friends and family, to consumer centric companies to promote sales, to B2B companies to increase lead generation.

     - It piles up.  Yep, just like the snow by the roadsides, social media can start to pile up.  The number of tweets, friends and overall volume of content is increasing in a way that makes all this snow pale by comparison.   We need to figure out ways to effectively and efficiently sift through, analyze and capture the value of social media.  Listening solutions are just the tip of the iceberg in gathering social media data.  What are we going to do with all this data? 

  •      - It must be managed.  As communities throughout the northeast figure out where to put the snow, we must figure out which social media data can actually help us accomplish our goals.  Can social media help us increase sales?  Sure, but can it help us target customers.  Of course!  We need to know how, when and where to utilize social networks for our enjoyment or business benefit.  We must be focused in our use of social media.

 

  •      - You have to plan for it.  We all head to the supermarket or gas station before a lot of these snow storms.  We don’t want to be trapped without the essentials (e.g., milk, bread).  Social media requires planning and integration with an overall marketing plan.  I emphasize this point constantly as it seems to be the most challenging for many companies.  Who and what do you want to be socially?  Which social networks help you fulfill your business goals?  How will you measure success?  It should be more than the number of fans, friends or followers.

 

Enjoy the snow.  Make some snow angels, build a snowman.  Find your inner child.  But, above all – be safe. Explore your options and get focused on how you’re going to make social media work for you before it piles up and creates other problems to manage and resolve.

 

What’s your perspective?