Not So Simple Definition of Social Market Leadership

March 1st, 2010 by Matthew Rosenhaft 380 comments »

As we have gone around the country speaking on Enterprise Social Strategy, we have struck upon a simple concept that seems to resonate with senior executives; social market leadership.

On the surface, it seems simple:

  • Thought Leadership – Stepping into the vacancy in the market
  • Market Offense – demonstrating market leadership via social media
  • Brand Defense - protecting brand reputation on social media
  • Associations – creating the forum for market best practices
  • Social Influence – building relationships with key market influencers
  • Social Marketing – influencing the market’s requirements for competitive products

However, ask we dig deeper, we realize that how you measure or even how you define what you measure is critical. We have been asking industry leaders “Who is the Social Market Leader in Your Industry?”. We get a lot of “We are…” then after we ask them “how do you know?”, we get “What do you mean?”. Then when we explain what social market leadership means to us, we get “We’re not sure…”

Our definition of Social Market Leadership… defining the thought leader in the social market with influence over public social networks like Linkedin, Twitter, Facebook, etc, as well as, industry communities, groups, forums, blogs hosted by vendors, associations, publications, enthusiasts, etc. In some industries, we do an audit and find over 100 unique platforms excluding the blogs.

How do you define thought leadership? Are you sharing your information with others? It isn’t what you say, it is what other say about you. How frequently do they interact with your information? Do they react positively? Do they tell everyone about what you say?

How do you define influence? Do you have credibility and reach? it isn’t about reaching everyone n the market. It would be nice, but for most businesses, that isn’t realistic. The brand icons already have a well established brand reach and they are considered a market “brand name” that define a standard. For the rest of the companies, there is a trade off between reaching everyone and reaching the right market cost effectively. Influencers are really about prioritization. Do the influencers have the “mojo”? Do they have the reach AND credibility? Can we hit the top 10% of the market and get them to evangelize on our behalf.

Market Leadership is not just Branding – There are algorithmic formulas out there that try to measure brand strength over social media. But, I think true long term social market leadership is really about creating a better customer experience through better engagement and interaction. With the transparancy that social media provides, companies are more and more realizing that architecting a better, holistic experience is critical to leveraging and maintaining brand equity and market share. If your social market share doesn’t represent your market share, might that be an indication of a problem in the market. If they don’t feel the same way about your company as you advertise, does that negate your market investment? Does your cost of customer acquisition go up because you don’t have brand evangelists and satisfied customers?

How do you measure Social Market Leadership? I think that this is the reason most organizations are struggling. There are simple measures from: simple Facebook fans, twitter followers, retweets, etc. To a little more sophisticated; social mention frequency benchmarking, sentiment scoring, number of influencer relationships, online community membership. To more complicated; taxonomy ownership, multi-criteria customer satisfaction, reputation management dashboarding, social lead scoring, share of customer voice, sentiment analysis benchmarking.

For those really pushing the limits of unstructured data analytics – the tools are rapidly moving towards ability to build a comparable, multi-dimensional dashboard to measure market perception differences between public social networks, online community members, and customer satisfaction surveying. Social media give such a dimensionality into buyer behavior, we think that we are only seeing the tip of the iceberg in terms of behavior analysis leveraging structured data analysis to build deeper analysis of unstructured social interactions.

No so simple an answer, but potentially worth a market.

5 Social “Truths”

February 18th, 2010 by Matthew Rosenhaft 329 comments »

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 by Matthew Rosenhaft 174 comments »

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.

Do You Use Lagging or Future Performance Indicators When Leading Your Organization?

January 27th, 2010 by Matthew Rosenhaft No comments »

We’ve said it to countless marketing executives nationwide —traditional market research is a lagging indicator of past performance and social market research is a leading indicator of future performance. A bold statement, I know, but one that we truly believe in because, as we prepare social market audits for our corporate clients, we see evidence of it each and every day. What exactly do I mean and what specifically do we find during our process?

When conducting these social audits, we initially look at the traditional market research relevant to our client’s industry, and then we see how effective their marketing efforts are compared to their competitors. While that data does help us learn more about the space our client navigates in, we also know that the information is only representative of previous investments made by our client (and their competitors). It doesn’t give us a snapshot of what is going on now, what happened two weeks, or two months ago for that matter. More specifically, it doesn’t tell us if our client’s competitors have, for example, launched a new campaign that is swaying chatter in their direction and taking 1Q or 2Q market share away from our client. In a time when even the largest of organizations need to be nimble and neutralize all lead generation obstacles, lagging data doesn’t help our client lead tomorrow —and lead competitively.

Today’s market share is reflective of a company’s ability to retain customers, expand their revenue relationship with existing customers and their ability to acquire new customers which for many years has been based upon traditional buying processes. Given the changes in communications over recent years, it is clear that tomorrow’s market share is now dependent on the social customer life cycle.

The buying process, or the social customer life cycle, in most cases now begins online. As an example, when speaking with a CIO recently, their company was looking to make an investment in a business intelligence (BI) solution. The first step in the process was to reach out to peer-to-peer networks to learn about what other CIOs were using, why they selected the product/solution they did, why they eliminated others, and what impact did these products/solutions have on their business. In parallel with that research, the members of their own IT organization, with specific roles as it applies to their BI program, have also been reaching out to their own peer-to-peer networks to learn from others just like them. Often they are conducting online searches and/or reading and engaging with key bloggers and thought leaders to get a sense of which companies are the visionaries and are most likely to be of assistance. They are also looking to see which BI vendors are engaged online. Are they listening? Participating? Driving? Leading? Are they a player? Are they dominant? This is how companies get on the short list.

You see, this is just the beginning of the social buying cycle. At this point they have not yet reached out to the vendors directly. They are narrowing the field and will only contact the vendors they are most interested in, when they are ready. What about the other vendors? They don’t even know that they missed an opportunity.

What many don’t realize is that customers are now creating their own, customized, personalized buying process. The companies that understand and embrace this and build their strategies around this new reality in order to maintain market share, become thought leaders, and establish a corporate image that makes them the easiest vendor to find (and of choice) within their key market.

Markets today are more fluid and dynamic in nature than ever before.

In our opinion, traditional market research is a static snapshot and is as accurate as the information that was available at the point that the report was published. For example if, according to Wikipedia, the Gartner Magic Quadrant is published every 1-2 years, can it truly represent the current state of the market?

Social market research, when done correctly, on an on-going basis, provides a more real time, dynamic understanding of the market conditions, the competitive landscape and the social footprint of individual companies.

Companies can now learn with greater granularity what impact their thought leadership, products, services, solutions, and so forth have on the market. An indication of the important of this are investment firms who are now seeking the social market analysis on companies in order to make decisions about which companies and markets to invest in, whether angel fund, venture capital or corporate.

Fluid markets provide the ability for small companies to capture market leadership position based upon their ability to embrace the social technology disruption. What does this mean? A small company, responding to the realities in the marketplace, can actually tap into market share a large organization earned over many years. We’ve seen this type of disruption before with the web, when over a 10 year span there were 62 new companies that jumped onto the Fortune 100. We believe social media is creating another disruption in the marketplace —do you have the right data in your hands to lead your organization effectively during this important change?

Just to be clear, you might think that we are not advocates for traditional market research, and that’s simply not the case. All we’re suggesting is that companies should keenly be aware of their current social market position and gather timely data to help them put forth strategies that will ensure they continue to be the leaders within their industry in the new social marketplace.

10 Recommendations for Socially Enabling the Customer Lifecycle

January 27th, 2010 by Matthew Rosenhaft No comments »

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