Posts Tagged ‘Customer Lifecycles’

Are Your Social Network Groups Democracies or Dictatorships?

March 20th, 2010

We recently started a group on Linkedin called Social Executive Council, SEC. The stated purpose:

Social Executive Council (SEC) is a Invitation-only, Executive Officer (CXO) or senior executives with social strategy or social media responsibility (Director and Above). The purpose of the group is to explore the definition of social market leadership; the social transformation of the various enterprise lifecycles; customer, operational, product, information, and employee that drive the market success and corporate valuation of an organization. This group will be focused on social enablement of the organization from a strategy perspective. We propose the exchange of ideas around development of social strategy, social execution, and social measurement with associated ROI. By opening the discussion to social strategy executives and their respective internal customers, we hope to empower a more substantive dialogue about how to leverage social media, web 2.0, online community, and collaboration technologies.

Our thinking was that we wanted to create a forum for executive level thought leadership to get away from the social media monitoring tools discussions that we found prevalent out on the web and almost every social media event that we go… Not that I don’t think that tools are important, but I have people on our team that work with them on a daily basis. My focus is working through the business strategy to enable organizations to take advantage of the social technologies to create competitive advantage.

When we launched the group, we knew that there were a lot of social media “groups” out there, but very few targeted to Social Strategists and the Executive Teams they service. We thought by keeping it to a VP level that we would keep it strategic. We knew that many of the Enterprise Social Strategy thought leaders were still at the Director level.

The good news is that it has exploded. The bad news is that it kicked off an interesting dilemna that I thought I would share. See, my partner, Judy Mod, is running the online group, soon to launch the non-profit organization and begin recruiting chapter presidents. I am staying “home” to run Social Gastronomy and make sure that we deliver on our promise of socially enabing the organization. We are consultants who run a business of consulting.

I have been helping out with the membership and requests for invitation to the group until the board can be formed. The toughest thing that I have found is to say “no” to potential members who don’t qualify. It is real simple… if you are a CXO/EVP/SVP/VP of a major company, many of the Fortune 500, you want to engage with your peers and rockstar social thought leaders. If I am going to invest my time in a group, I want a return on that investment. I also want to engage with people who look like me or who can process at my level.

So, I made the mistake of letting in some social thought leaders who were not Director level. Best of intentions as they did have some really good backgrounds, but we got called on it from a couple of organizations that complained that their teams were not allowed in. They were right. You make a rule, you have to uniformly enforce it. One manager was extremely upset when I had to revoke membership. I can’t blame them. I personally apologized. I felt horrible and it still bothers me. I openend a discussion thread in the group to discuss whether the level defined was the right one.

We set up the group with an expressed position that for it to work, we needed to open it up to Senior Execs or Social Strategists to have a forum to engage with peers and rock-star strategists. To get that caliber of player, we needed a combination of exclusivity in role in organization, but inclusivity in terms of competitors. It wouldn’t be appropriate for me to bring in my blogging or my business in that forum because it would be seen as self-serving.

It brings an interesting point; which now I am getting to… where is that line of opening the community up to the market and maintaining the stated focus for your business. On our end, we started the group because we wanted the credibility and a forum for our thought leadership. We are not completely altruistic as we need to eventually translate our IP and thought leadership into paid consulting services.

On the other hand, we know the audience would not tolerate ANY sales messages. They want education. If they need you, they now know about you, AND they will let you know if they are interested in talking with you. In essence, we created a democracy within the group to foster an open communications platform. We get to participate and influence as founders and members at large.

We made a delineation from the activities in running the group from our business as a compromise and recognition of the need for demonstrated integrity. This blog is my company’s to write more extensively and to share my thoughts on trends and situations that come up in our business. Interesting to the group, maybe, but they will need to come visit our website to read our blog. We wouldn’t do anything that smacked of inequality versus the other consulting firms in the group as we would lose credibility towards the stated purpose.

Additionally, the feedback from the senior execs in the larger companies is that they want a balance of peer discussions, but welcome consultants as long as it doesn’t turn into a sales pitch or they get hounded. They recognize they need consultants, but want to be able to choose when to engage with them and how.

This is pretty consistent with what we are seeing in the market. Almost any market that you go into, you can see a wide spectrum of communities, forums, groups, blogs, lists, etc. hosted by vendors, publications, associations, or enthusiasts. I think that the best of the lot understand that they can’t be extreme on either end of the spectrum… too wide open where the core target is disenfranchised with the noise or selling, but also where it is open enough to promote free and engaging discussion.

The problem with static websites is exactly that… someone said “where on your website do you post which projects that you screwed up?” No one does… The value of social media is that peer validation and credentialling that comes from broader, free discussion.

The other side, is that companies don’t create these forums or groups for completely altrustic reasons. At some point, thought leadership and engagement needs to convert to leads and pipelines. Even non-profits need transactions.

My recommendation in setting up communities is really take a look at the competitive landscape, your real objectives, and the key players in the market to determine what is the appropriate level of “openeness” that makes sense. A public group is more open by nature than a private, branded community.

If I invite you into my home, make sure to take your shoes off…. house rules. Well, actually my wife’s… but you get the point…

5 Social “Truths”

February 18th, 2010

We, Social Gastronomy, hold these “truths” to be self-evident. These beliefs are a synthesis of our learnings from our social consulting. These are the foundational beliefs that are core to our practice; from analysis, planning, consulting, to execution.

  • Shift in buyer behavior is due to social media technology disruption on par with other major technology shifts
  • Social market leadership is becoming a critical business performance indicator
  • Social media technologies are better enabling the customer experience to become more customer-centric; both from a process and online community perspective
  • Unstructured social interactions can be integrated into quantifiable business performance metrics to enhance business intelligence
  • Key to social market leadership is social enablement of each stage of the customer lifecycle

I have More Twitter Followers Than You

February 11th, 2010

We recently got that feedback from a company that we were introduced to provide social marketing services and consulting. Struck a chord worthy of a blog post. It is a consistent theme as of late on what is the value of social media participation. How do you keep score? How do you measure ROI?

First, I will respond to the more “twitter followers” statement. SO WHAT? For all of those folks who are building massive follower lists on twitter without a relationship, are you really getting value out it in your business? Do you have a strategy to convert these “eyeballs” into business relationships and revenue or are you just collecting names to spam? Do you have a plan?

I think there is a middle ground. Despite working nationally and internationally now, I have been building a list of Atlanta based marketers because I couldn’t find one. I have published it and I am adding to it all of the time. It is my “give to get” to the community. Yes, I get followers from it and I get name recognition, but the real value to my business is that I am integrating that list into my offline branding. I am also giving back to the community.

I am interested in participating in the larger Atlanta marketing community because I live here and I want to be a part of it. I don’t get to many events due to family constraints; young kids and most meetings scheduled in the evenings or early morning right in the heart of family time. I do a fair bit of speaking so I get to talk about my favorite topic “social marketing”, but the reality is that I want to be more connected.

On the twitter front, I don’t tend to write pithy 140 character pearls of wisdom. I write longer, more meaty blog posts. I also don’t tend to forward research reports, or other content to my contacts because I want to create a reputation as a thought leader; hence why I spend the time that I do researching and writing my own take on the market. I use twitter to send out the headlines to bring people back to my longer blog posts.

So, in summary, I blog, I participate on the social networks, I integrate my offline marketing with my online relationships. I practice what I preach. Now if I had a larger marketing engine, I would be spending more resource dollars in building a sustained presence that reinforced our expertise, gave back to the market more original content, shared case examples, and tried to help the market synthesize the large amount of noise around social marketing. I do what I can do.

But, I don’t see having more followers as a way of keeping score. I would rather see a company or individual have fewer, better quality relationships that large numbers of followers on twitter. At least on Linkedin, you can get email addresses to build into your social CRM efforts. I actually send out an occasional email digest of my latest blog topics to my social contacts via email. This serves as a reminder of what I do, makes it easier for them to get the information, and allows them to forward as they see fit. I run an opt out program on those emails and I track the clicks, forwards, etc. The point is that a good integrated social marketing program can be qualitative and integrated, but a badly designed program becomes about meaningless numbers….

Now, that being said, you are welcome to follow me on twitter directlyat www.twitter.com/mmrosenhaft if you want the occasional headlines of my blog, or just sign up for the RSS feed.  If you are Atlanta-based and in marketing, I am happy to add you to my list of Atlanta Marketers http://twitter.com/mmrosenhaft/atlanta-marketing.

10 Recommendations for Socially Enabling the Customer Lifecycle

January 27th, 2010

We have had a lot of discussions as of late around how to socially enable the customer lifecyle. Also, begs the question “What does that mean?”

First, we are talking about how you manage customers from awareness, through interest, purchase, delivery, support, repeat, and referral. Depending upon your market, how complicated your sales process, channels, etc. this will vary to a degree, but we are talking about managing a customer from cradle to grave ( hopefully “not” grave). Companies are paying a lot of money for business intelligence systems, CRM systems, contact center, marketing and sales technologies to try and address the challenges around the heightened customer expectations.

Customers do not want the disjointed, endless closed loop frustrations of trying to manage a relationship with a company who doesn’t understand that customers choose from whom they receive “service”. This customer experience is bleeding through into marketing and sales with the ability to mass distribute customer complaints. We have all seen the blogs, tweets, viral videos, etc.

The company that can enable a sustained and coherent engaged relationship with a customer from introduction through purchase and repeat purchases will see a decline in customer churn, increase in referrals, and a decrease in the cost of customer acquisition. Bottom line is that better engagement with your customers leads to a better bottom line. The “means to an end” in this is through social media, online communities, collaboration, web 2.0, etc. type technologies that enable individuals to engage and interact online. Huge wins in terms of brand equity, customer satisfaction, and understanding of buyer behavior, beyond streamlining the service and support processes.

To that end, we spend a lot of time working with companies to design this roadmap since many are still trying to figure out how to get started, let alone walk or run. As we do a good number of presentations on what a roadmap looks like, we thought that we would share the high-level framework in the spirit of ”give to get”; which is the basis of social marketing. Here is our recommendations:

  1. Find out what your market is saying. If you aren’t, you have no idea literally.
  2. Have a plan to engage with them on social networks, blogs, video, etc
  3. Build a good “fishing program” for lead generation
  4. Identify the top places, people, and discussions that your market is engaging
  5. Build relationships online as you would a good PR or business development program
  6. Build engaging content that will educate, entertain, or influence your market
  7. Build an online community for your customers, prospects,  and partners
  8. Listen to what they have to say, measure it, and respond to it
  9. Build an online community for your organization to collaborate and to engage employees
  10. Integrate your applications, corporate content, processes, and data into the community

10 Top Questions for Contemplating Social Media Monitoring

January 25th, 2010

For companies contemplating social media monitoring, this post analysis is meant as a starting point for integrating such an offer with Social Gastronomy’s Enterprise Social Management consulting services.

The Social media monitoring technologies are not sufficiently mature to be “install and go”; especially if the provider is looking to integrate multiple tools. This will require additional selling, implementing, customizing, and executing to manage the integration of the multiple data stream; which are exponentially more complex beyond single tool selection. Some large brands use up to 16 different tools in its social media monitoring program, we use 10+ for just our social market audit. Adding to the complexity in tool selection is the fact that a strategic snapshot that shows the relevance to the brand and business is different than the tactical dashboard and may require a completely different tools set.

Additionally, the competitive tool landscape becomes more complicated as provider moves up the “food chain” to sell to new levels. The expectations as to how extensive the monitoring program will become will be dictated by the CMO’s desire to consolidate efforts; ie. Across monitoring for brand, reputation management, customer contact, etc. the provider could find itself competing for a broader base of business against PR, Marketing Communications, and Contact Center firms for the Social Media business. We suspect that this will naturally (already) occur as CMO’s will come to the conclusion that the monitoring and listening capabilities should be centralized and feed data for multi-purposes.

Recommended Planning Steps

Area of Planning Key Issues Impact
Business Planning
  • Expected return
  • Ownership within Organization
  • Measure success
  • What are you really buying
  • Investment required over time
  • Resources
  • Business case
  • Technology investment to support offering
Roadmap will dictate the business and investment requirements. If requirements are more extensive than expected, will cause perception issues as to quality and ability to execute.
Program Management
  • Pricing
  • Packaging
  • Target customers within organization
  • Tool selection now and future
  • Duplication of data
  • Data cleansing process
  • Start with a core application and add other offerings
Expectations around the offering will dictate whether one tool or many will be required. We are seeing client have more mature requirements in terms of comprehensive information collection and synthesis.
Operation Execution
  • People Requirements
  • Process Requirements
  • Technology Requirements
How far along the business requirements have gone in preparing to scale the a program
Solution Customization
  • Add’l types of listening tools
  • Process
  • Training
  • Dashboard
  • Addl tools
  • Packages?
  • Pricing
If you trend as other enterprise social media clients that we have seen, then the customization requirements eventually will be extensive. Preparing for scenarios may allow for better initial package and accelerated scalability
Integration
  • Process
  • Requirements
  • Customer training
  • Project set-up
  • Policies and procedures setup
  • Roadmap for clients
The enterprise customers seem to be more mature in expectations around integrating offering into their environments and not as tolerant for siloed management. Has impact on operations and customization.

10 Top Takeaway Questions to Answer

  1. What is the expected hand-off when Social Gastronomy does strategy?
  2. What if organization wants other tools to include into the mix?
  3. What if monitors in other areas and wants to combine – call center, pr or marcom firm?
  4. Reputation monitoring, brand reach, complaints, categories, competitive intelligence, and qualitative analysis – what are you monitoring and why?
  5. Sentiment analysis – how leverage, how integrate with other data, how overcome shortcomings?
  6. Sentiment analysis challenges and manual review, omissions, volumes, discrepancies
  7. What does the integrated tool dashboard look like? Is there a different dashboard for the daily user, weekly manager, and monthly/quarterly executive?
  8. Integration into CRM – process, results, so what?
  9. How integrate into broader programs, how to use as door-opener for new expanded social media presence management?

10.  Where does this go? Roadmap?