Curación de contenidos: FAQs

Decía el filósofo Ludwig Wittgenstein que no podemos encontrar una definición plena para un concepto, porque siempre podemos encontrar un ejemplo que se salga de la definición. Y esto es especialmente cierto cuando hablamos de conceptos que son complejos porque pueden ser observados desde diferentes puntos de vista, y con diferentes intereses. Uno de esos conceptos está dando mucho de qué hablar últimamente: la curación de contenidos.

En este post, voy a intentar aclarar algunas de las que considero como preguntas más frecuentes (FAQs) sobre la curación de contenidos. Y para ello tendré que hacer algunas generalizaciones inevitables, por lo que la discusión será bienvenida (siempre dentro de los límites de lo razonable, claro).

Podéis ampliar información sobre los diversos aspectos que están relacionados con la curación de contenidos en la serie que estoy escribiendo para la plataformaDokumentalistas.

 Sobre el concepto de “curación de contenidos”

  ¿Es la expresión “curación de contenidos” la más adecuada para traducir “content curation”?

Seguramente, no: sería más correcto decir “curaduría de contenidos”. No obstante, “curación de contenidos” es la expresión más utilizada, así que para evitar confusiones adicionales, quizá sería práctico ceñirnos a ella.

¿Y qué hay de la expresión “curador de contenidos”?

Aquí la cosa es diferente. “Curador” es un vocablo aceptado por el Diccionario de la Real Academia de la Lengua. Además, “curador” es un término relativamente frecuente en la museología (ámbito con el que se suele comparar la labor de la curación de contenidos web) para designar a los responsables de la elección de las piezas que forman una colección. Así que “curador de contenidos” no es una expresión incorrecta.

¿De dónde sale esto de la curación de contenidos?

La idea de la curación de contenidos se empieza a popularizar en parte gracias a un post del marketer Rogit Bhargava del año 2009. Según el escrito de Bhargava, la curación de contenidos sería el acto de buscar, agrupar, organizar y compartir el mejor contenido, y el más relevante, de un determinado tema.

¿Y con qué finalidad puede llevar a cabo una organización la curación de contenidos?, ¿para aliviar la infoxicación de los usuarios?

No necesariamente. Aunque puede ser el objetivo principal, lo cierto es que la curación de contenidos se suele considerar como un medio para conseguir la vinculación (engagement) de los usuarios con la organización. El alivio de la infoxicación puede derivarse de una manera natural de ese proceso de búsqueda de vinculación.

¿Y por qué son importantes los contenidos para la vinculación?

Los contenidos son un factor de especial interés, ya tienen la virtud de funcionar comocombustible para las conversaciones entre los usuarios y entre los usuarios y las organizaciones.

Pero, ¿no se decía que las empresas tenían que ser “medios de publicación” si querían participar en el marketing 2.0?

En cierto sentido, sí han de serlo. Hay contenidos que sólo ellas pueden producir (directamente, o externalizando), porque están relacionados directamente con el servicio o producto que la organización ofrezca a los usuarios. No obstante, la publicación de contenidos es un proceso costoso, que requiere constancia y planificación.

Entonces, ¿la curación de contenidos es una forma barata de obtener contenido?

Eso puede depender del tipo de curación de contenidos que se lleve a cabo.

Ah, ¿que hay diferentes tipos de curación?

Pues sí. En el año 2011, Bhargava publicó otro post en su blog en el que hablaba de cinco modelos de curación de contenidos: agregación, destilación, elevación, mashup y cronología.

¿Y en qué se diferencian?

La diferencia que hay de fondo entre esos diversos modelos es el proceso de dar sentido a los contenidos, o sense making.

¿….?

Las personas estamos continuamente dando sentido a lo que percibimos, aunque no nos demos cuenta de ello. Piensa en lo que hacemos cuando leemos un texto: damos un significado concreto a una palabra que pueda tener varios, en función de las palabras que la rodeen; entendemos una frase en función de las frases que ya hemos leído; comprendemos una obra si comprendemos la temática más ámplia en la que se incluye, lo que nos permite  comprender otras obras semejantes… y así sucesivamente.

En el proceso de dar sentido a la experiencia, el contexto es muy importante. El contexto está formado por aquellos factores que afectan a la comprensión de un mensaje, ya sean factores cognitivos (p.ej, lo que sabemos del tema), emocionales (nuestros niveles de estrés, ansiedad,…) o físicos (el entorno, la actividad que estemos llevando a cabo,…).

Cuando damos sentido a un contenido, ofrecemos el suficiente contexto como para que un usuario pueda apreciar su relevancia. Dicho de otra manera: facilitamos la comprensión y la apreciación de ese contenido. Ese “dar sentido” implica un tratamiento intelectual de la información, que puede ser costoso, tanto en tiempo como en esfuerzo. Y la cantidad de trabajo intelectual (y por lo tanto de sense making) es lo que diferencia a los diferentes modelos de curación de contenidos.

Ya veo: la curación de contenidos permite a las organizaciones presentarse como un fuente de información, ¿no?

Sí, pero no sólo eso: de nuevo, depende del proceso de sense making. Podemos ofrecer contenidos con un tratamiento intelectual mínimo, y cumplir así una función informativa, pero también podemos, por ejemplo, enmarcar esos contenidos en una tendencia más amplia, conectándolos con otros contenidos y facilitando la creación de nuevo conocimiento. En función de la estrategia, las organizaciones pueden posicionarse de diferente manera en la mente de los usuarios:
 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Resumiendo: la curación de contenidos es una estrategia a través de la cuál las organizaciones pretenden vendernos sus productos y servicios, ¿no?

Bueno, ésa es la manera más frecuente de entender la curación de contenidos, como una estrategia de marketing, de la que los individuos también pueden beneficiarse mediante una estrategia de posicionamiento de marca personal. Pero fuera del mundo del marketing, el periodismo empieza a considerar la curación de contenidos como una actividad a tener en cuenta.

Por ejemplo: el año pasado, uno de los blogs de The Economist publicó un post donde se nos decía que:

 ”aggregation” or “curation” of other people’s coverage is becoming recognised more and more as one of the indispensable elements of journalism.

¿Por qué? En este caso, la finalidad principal de la curación sí que es claramente aliviar la infoxicación del público: 

You might say that you don’t need to be a journalist to cobble together a list of links. But actually, given the huge proliferation of sources these days, you do. Being able to scan a vast range of material, determine what’s reliable, relevant and sufficiently objective, decide what will actually interest your particular readers and arrange it in a way that they can use are not trivial skills.

 Sobre el curador de contenidos

 

  “Buscar, agrupar, organizar y compartir online el mejor contenido, y el más relevante, de un determinado tema”: ¿no es eso lo que hacen las bibliotecas y centros de información?

Claro que sí, pero hay una diferencia con la curación de contenidos aplicada a las organizaciones. Mientras que no se considera correcto que un bibliotecario le diga a un usuario qué es lo que debe leer (como ejemplo de lo que digo, puedes consultar el primer comentario que recibí en mi post Conocimiento, ética y bibliotecas), eso es precisamente lo que hacemos cuando curamos contenidos:  damos a entender al usuario que esos contenidos son los que, según nuestro criterio, merecen su atención por encima de aquellos que hemos descartado.

De todas maneras, ¿”curador de contenidos” no es una nueva denominación para decir “documentalista”? ¿No tenemos ya suficientes términos confusos?

Por supuesto que las funciones de un curador de contenidos se solapan en gran parte con las de un documentalista, pero los documentalistas estamos acostumbrados a gestionar información dentro de las organizaciones, y la curación de contenidos tiene más que ver con la comunicación 2.0 que con la gestión de información. Podéis consultar una interesante discusión en Iwetel sobre este tema, resumida por Víctor Vidal en su postPolémica por el término “content curator”

Desde hace un tiempo, utilizo Paper.li y mis redes sociales para difundir contenidos que me parecen interesantes: ¿soy ya un curador de contenidos?

Claro, ¡en cierta manera todos lo somos! No obstante, lo que se ha venido en llamar curación de contenidos implica algo más que utilizar plataformas: implica pensar estratégicamente.

¿Y cómo se piensa estratégicamente?

Antes de publicar, e incluso antes de buscar información, es necesario contestar a dos preguntas: ¿a qué público me dirijo?, ¿qué les interesa?; y ¿de qué tema voy a curar contenidos?

Son preguntas importantes, porque como nos explica la empresa HiveFire, una estrategia de curación de contenidos óptima se encuentra en la intersección entre tres factores:

  • Que haya un público interesado
  • Que el tema no esté “explotado” por otros curadores
  • Que se produzca suficiente contenido sobre el tema

Puedes ampliar información en mi post para Dokumentalistas El ciclo de trabajo del curador de contenidos.

 

Ann Smarty is a search marketer and full-time web entrepreneur. Ann blogs on search and social media tools. Her newest project, My Blog Guest, is a free platform for guest bloggers and blog owners. Follow Ann on Twitter at@seosmarty and on Google+.

Getting around a social media site is not always easy. For some users, it’s a matter of getting used to social media. For others, the issue is keeping up with constant updates and changes to features, privacy settings, and account specifications. This, of course, is why social media cheat sheets exist.

Cheat sheets are basically infographics that can give a user a simple rundown of various features and how to use them. Here’s a roundup of great cheat sheets for the most popular social networking sites.

Google+

1. Google+ Cheat Sheet by Simon Laustsen


This is a nice little cheat sheet that covers what most users are probably going to need. For example, you’ll know how to create circles, add content, and tag items. It also gives you a couple of hot keys to use, such as the ‘J’ key for scrolling down posts, and ‘Q’ to bring up the chat window.

2. Photostream Cheat Sheet


This sheet is more descriptive. It shows you how to share, edit, tag, and adjust the settings for photos, while giving you a few facts as you go along. It isn’t complete, but it is a nice look at how to share updates and navigate Google+.

3. Complete Google+ Cheat Sheet


If you want a more complete list of the basic functions of Google+ this one gives you all the hot keys, basic tagging, and more. It also covers things like chat features and how to make the site more intuitive for easier browsing.

Facebook

4. Facebook Sizes and Dimensions Cheat Sheet


With Timeline as the standard layout for Facebook accounts, it is more important than ever to know the different size and dimension requirements for customizing a page. This sheet covers all of the vitals.

5. Facebook for Newbies Cheat Sheet


If you know so little about Facebook that you continuously write status updates on other people’s walls, then this is a must-read sheet. It’s a great step-by-step guide for anyone who feels clueless.

6. Facebook Shortcuts Cheat Sheet


We have touched on the fact that many cheat sheets have hot key codes for you to use. But you might be wondering what this actually means. These are just shortcuts that have been programmed by the site to allow you to press a couple of keys to bring up commands. For example, if you have IE as a browser you can hit ALT and the number three to bring up your friend request page. This sheet offers a rundown of all of those command codes.

Twitter

7. Complete Twitter Cheat Sheet


This excellent document shows the different Twitter hot keys, whether you want to learn the basics or get into the more complicated examples.

8. Twitter Newbies’ Cheat Sheet


This cheat sheet will be especially valuable for newbies who don’t know how to reply, private message, or re-tweet.

9. Manners Cheat Sheet


You have probably noticed that there is a specific kind of etiquette on Twitter. But figuring it out takes time. This infographic shows you the different ways of making sure that you follow proper etiquette, especially when using this social networking site for professional purposes.

General Social Media Cheat Sheets

10. Blocking Cheat Sheet


A lot of people fail to understand how blocking on social media works. This will show you what putting in a standard block will do on each of the three main sites we just covered.

11. What’s Not Allowed Where


This one outlines most of the official rules of conduct on Twitter, Facebook, Google+, LinkedIn, Quora, and Reddit. Keep it handy next time you plan a campaign on social media to make sure you are in line with the official TOS.

12. Social Media Keyboard Shortcuts


If you are keeping up with all three social networks mentioned in this list, then keeping track of all those keyboard tricks isn’t easy. Luckily, this is a great cheat sheet of the most important ones

Dunbar’s Number and the Social Business

Dunbar’s Number
Most people working with social technologies will be familiar with Dunbar’s Number: the number of people we can comfortably maintain stable social relationships with. Apparently it varies from 100 to 230, with 150 being the norm. This we each typically connect up with and socialise with on average 150 people. This applies both to our friends in the ‘real’ as in the virtual – our own core social network will adhere to Dunbar’s principle.

Evolutionary Anthropology and our neocortex
Dunbar reckons that the reason for this is all to be found in our neocortex, so at heart it is an evolutionary anthropology argument and implies that we are working around biological limits. Whether this is the case or not is moot and indeed questions have been raised as to whether technology in the form of social networks can increase the number, so that American politicians for example, might have 300 friends.

Does E 2.0 = multiple 150s?
Rather than toy with this concept, I’d like instead to turn it on its head and ask this – how does Dunbar’s number relate to the efficiency gained to using social business software in an enterprise? Or put another way, what’s the biting point for e-mail – how big can a company get before the inefficiencies of using e-mail get so much, that using social software is a no-brainer? Or another, can we have multiple 150s around social projects when using Enterprise 2.0 collaborative technology?

E-mail overload, Jive and SharePoint
The backdrop to this are some recent conversations, a couple were with people senior in large organisations, who were overwhelmed with e-mail. What I’ve been wondering is this – is e-mail overload the inability to surpass the 150 limit? In other words, we can only process the interactions of 150 friends but e-mail can dump those of several 1,000s into our inbox every week. How do we manage this when the organisation is 100,000 + people? Social of course, but are we then, and I’m thinking of a recent Jive Software project I worked on, creating lots of manageable Groups and Spaces where information gets packaged up into bite sized 230 max pieces? On a note here, one of Jive’s big strengths is the ability to split of content and create discussion threads or to port over discussions, blogs and documents into a new Jive Group or Space. Jive manages this with aplomb, not something I can say for SharePoint 2010, but that can itself package up information if used correctly.

Why do I need a social intranet?
A second related conversation was with one of my own ’150 people’ at the local wine bar. My friend works for an international company with global clients, who themselves will have a multi-national presence. One of these clients presented a business issue and my friend was able to e-mail his internal network and get an answer within a very short time. Thus the question put to me was “Tell me what one of your social intranet things can do that I can’t already do with e-mail?”

What’s the e-mail limit?
The examples I gave were the ability to manage that information and the like, the fact that the answer could be shared and socialised much more easily. I gave quite a few others but didn’t really convince my pal. The conversation did make me wonder this though: is there a business size at which you can get away with e-mail? The business in this discussion was around 1,000 employees. My gut feel is this: the e-mail traffic of 1,000 people communicating falls into a Dunbar’s Number sized package. That is 1,000 people’s e-mails in a group such as a business on average create an information pool equivalent to on average 150 people.

Benefits of of social business software
Now I wonder, at what point, on average does employee size it surpass this? My guess is 1,500 people – if you have 1,500 people using e-mail as their primary communication tool then you’re at the limit of what that technology can do without it having a negative impact. 1,500 people sending e-mail overloads the 150 social limit – you need a better way of managing that information, the business needs the benefits of social business software.

Creating the Social Media Balanced Scorecard, doing the undoable….

Conducting some research I’ve stumbled across an interesting quote (& this blog is but a jotter of my thoughts) that I suspect might be an old chestnut by now.  It’s new to me though so here goes.  & it comes fromBob Kaplan inventor of the Balanced Scorecard and relates to measuring the ROI of social media. Kaplan’s quote on the ROI of social media is succinct and cuts so quick to the point as to leave little behind:

“you can’t do it.”

I found the quote on Traackr.com who explain that “Measuring Social Media ROI is a pipe dream

Trying to calculate the ROI of social media is the same as trying to calculate the ROI of email or the road you drive to work on. The costs can be approximated but the benefits can’t. Their reach is too broad and too many other factors are at play to even to list them all, let alone attempt to measure profits.

Now this I find interesting and and in equal measure implausible - I don’t believe it.

Now I don’t have much ammo to refute it and I’ve even less expertise. This simply ‘aint my area. And yet it keeps on coming up – there must be a way of making the Social Media Balanced Scorecard.

So where to start? Well where I started to think about this was in 3 broad areas

1) Impact improvement on existing process: time to create, to sell, cost of production etc etc etc

2) Innovation – doing what was not done before, idea Wikis and the like. Making new stuff happen.

3) Business Transformation – when 1 & 2 fuse in completely unexpected ways.

But where to strap the numbers to? Well on this, I first started to think about Balanced Scorecards – hence finding the quote from Kaplan. This is an interesting area and all I have to go on at present is an old report from Forrester from 2004:  The Balanced Scorecard For IT: Value Metrics. Forrester supply a suggested list of scores:

balanced scorecard

They’re keen to stress though that,

When it comes to IT value metrics, there is no silver bullet, no single metric that provides the appropriate answer. However, with strong alignment between business strategy and IT strategy, it is possible to start making the necessary links between IT investments and their business value. We suggest using a number of diverse, financially oriented metrics to capture the breadth of IT value delivered.

This provides for me food for thought though. Can we correlate this to enterprise social media, to enterprise 2.0? Or more pointedly:  is your social media strategy aligned to your business strategy and if so in how much and in what form? And where next with Forrester’s other factors, can they correlate to scoring against the success of enterprise 2.0?

The Social Business Scorecard IV, or ROI made easy

Ok then, following on from previous posts on social media scorecard and E2.0 ROI, let’s tie them together, add some other factors and prepare the way to churn out some numbers. Here’s a progress towards a social business balanced scorecard:

GoalSocial Business ActivitiesCandidate Social Business MetricsEmployee EngagementIncrease employee engagement via genuine dialogue and polyphonic communication channels. Overcome Generational Shift. Discussing!Employee Satisfaction Surveys, Polls, Feedback from Social Media Channels (% Csat), CSAT on Generation – Y + Millenials + BoomersInnovationIncrease level of innovation via Innovation Wikis (e.g., Cisco I-Zone), Competitions and ‘wisdom of crowds’ gathering of info activities. Listening!Number of ideas submitted, number of successful ideas turned into pilots, number of pilots entering the market as new products. Time to market ratios.Increase ProductivityIncreased productivity% increase, contribution in $/£ per employeeImprove Customer ExperienceIncrease revenue per customer, increase engagement from the customer, social marketing, brand protectionCustomer retention / satisfaction, inputs into marketing process, overall cost of marketing $/£ per $/£ sale. Brand insurance.Social EngagementConnections, sociality of employees via Enterprise Social Networks, 2.0 profiles, Tagging across the Enterprise, Expert Locators, Silo BustingSocial Network Analytics, (NodeXL), Measure of Relations, Overcoming Geo/Time barriers with synchronous & asynchronous comms / collaboration = decreased travel budget. ratio of flights/meetings vs online engagement.LearningSocial Learning, sharing of information, 2.0 Training, e-learning, EMS.Cost of training, number of courses taken/passed, diversity of learning offerings, Customer satisfaction/CSAT Degree of ‘Knowing what we know’ better.Sales & TurnoverSocial Software as cumulative competitive Advantage. Increased Sales and Turnover + ProductivitySales figures, sales generated per employee at employee cost (as above inc productivity).

Refs
How to calculate the ROI of E2.0 / Social Business projects
Social Media Balanced Scorecard III
Determining the Value of Social Business ROI: Myths, Facts, and Potentially High Returns
How To Calculate the ROI of Enterprise 2.0
Creating the Social Media Balanced Scorecard, doing the undoable….
The Balanced Scorecard For IT: Value Metrics. Forrester
Measuring Social Media ROI is a pipe dream

How To Calculate the ROI of Enterprise 2.0

|   Nov 30, 2010

With enterprise social software platforms still in their infancy, ROI measurements are just now becoming possible with early adopter communities. While I don’t expect that we will need to continuously re-justify these tools in the workplace, I do believe that measurements are going to be required to help bring about a more successful transition and wider adoption.

At the Enterprise 2.0 conference last month, I spoke on a panel about measuring the ROI of E2.0 from an HR perspective. After listening to questions from the audience, I realized that community mangers are looking for more detailed guide of how to measure the benefits of E2.0 software. Calculating ROI can be a daunting and overwhelming task, but given advanced analytics it is definitely possible. I would suggest starting small, selecting one area to focus on and then building upon that. Perhaps the best place to start is by picking an area that most closely resonates with your company’s current pain point. After you finish your calculations, you will quickly see that with an industry average list price of $3- $5 per user, per month, and low implementation costs, very minimal changes in key performance indicators (KPIs) are required to produce significant ROI (see infographic). Here are a few examples of important business drivers that can be improved and quantified by using enterprise social media.

CLICK ON IMAGE TO ENLARGE

Business Driver #1: Employee Engagement

Assertion: Employees using enterprise social software platforms in the workplace are more engaged than similar employees who do not use these tools. Employees are more engaged because they become part of something larger than themselves and their immediate departments. Knowledge and work become more transparent and employees are able to get real-time feedback, visibility, and gratification.

Why its important: Based on research done by Gallup, engaged workforces have an EPS that is 3.9 times higher than less-engaged organizations in the same industry1. Also, according to a recent article in Harvard Business Review titled “Competing on Talent Analytics,” companies like Starbucks, Limited Brands, and Best Buy not only greatly value employee engagement as a concept, but also can also accurately quantify an increase in employee engagement in actual dollars. For example, at Best Buy, a 0.1% increase in employee engagement at the store level is worth a $100,000 increase in annual operating income per store2.

How to Measure: Most companies already conduct annual surveys to gauge the level of workforce engagement. To measure, aggregate engagement ratings so that you have one rating per employee. Combine this data with not only data about the employee’s usage of the enterprise social software, but also other data points that can impact engagement such as compensation and promotion opportunities. Now, through the use of regression analysis (a mathematical way to model relationships), calculate what impact an employee level of activity in the network (the independent variables) has on his engagement score (the dependent variable).

Business Driver #2: Turnover

Assertion: Employees using activity streams in the workplace are less likely to turn over than those that do not use activity streams. In addition to increasing employee engagement, enterprise social software platforms help employees onboard more quickly, help them find the information they need to be successful, and help them receive real time feedback from fellow coworkers – all of which lead to better employee retention.

Why it’s Important: It is estimated that the cost of employee turnover is 100% to 150% of the employee’s base salary2. Suppose the average salary in your organization is $45,000 annually and you have 5,000 employees. If introducing collaboration software reduces your turnover by even 1%, then that equates to a saving of at least $1M annually (calculation accounts for an implementation/management cost of about $100,000).

How to Measure: Using your company’s employment records, identify the employees that have turned over since you launched your network. Again, you will need to obtain data concerning the employee usage of the your community as well as other data points that could have an impact on turnover rates like tenure, salary, market conditions and promotional opportunities. Since the dependent variable is binary (0 denoting currently with the company, 1 denoting that someone has left the company) a logistic regression will need to be used. Be careful, as coefficients in logistic regressions can be more difficult to interpret.

Business Driver #3: Sales

Assertion: Enterprise social software platforms provide employees with real time business insights, allowing them to react faster to product availability, customer issues, news about the competition, and other insights that help them go first to market with new products.

Why it’s Important: Sales is a critical KPI for many organizations, driving the bottom line and helping create company value. According to Gartner’s 2011 CEO and Business Executive survey, CEO’s are going to focus on investments that drive cash growth. Therefore, it is imperative to show the cash implications to justify any investment4.

How to Measure: One way to measure the impact enterprise social software has on sales is to just focus on the results of your sales team. Much like the other analyses, you will need to acquire the same data and make sure that you account for other factors that might impact sales. Again, use regression analysis to model the impacts that enterprise social software has on sales results.

These are just three examples of the types of analyses that you can do to measure the ROI of E2.0 in your organization. Remember that the benefit of collaboration isn’t just the knowledge and information that employees input into the network, but also the information that employees glean from the network to take back to their jobs. Other benefits of E.20 include breaking down knowledge silos, reducing the time spent in meetings, and increasing overall productivity. While some of the benefits can be challenging to quantify, successful deployments will easily demonstrate a tangible ROI in several key business drivers.

A Note About Accurate Analysis

Before you start to measure the ROI of your company’s enterprise social network, it’s important that you ensure accuracy. As with any new industry measurement, mistakes are easy to make as we look for trends and data that have little precedent to work off of.

In this case, we look to regression analysis to ensure accuracy. Regression analysis is a mathematical tool used to calculate the relationship between variables on large sets of data. Preparing the data for the analysis will be the most time consuming activity, however the time invested will help prevent mistakes. For example, one of the most common issues is to misinterpret causality based on correlation. For the non-statistical readers, this means that you assume that there is a cause and effect relationship between two variables rather than a common trend. To avoid this mistake, make sure to use data from before and after the launch of your community, thus ensuring that the change that occurred after the launch of your community. Also, ensure your model correctly controls for all factors that could impact your dependent variable – like job function, age, years of service, etc. By doing this, you ensure there isn’t another factor that is driving the true reason for the change. Regression analysis is thus a very powerful tool, but used incorrectly it can provide misleading results.

SOURCES:

  1. Gallup Engagement metrics: http://www.gallup.com/consulting/52/employee-engagement.aspx
  2. Harvard Business Review October 2010, Competing on Talent Analytics, By Thomas H. Davenport, Jeanne Harris, and Jeremy Shapiro
  3. Journal of Management and Marketing Researchhttp://www.aabri.com/manuscripts/09272.pdf
  4. Gartner’s 2011 CEO and Business Executive Surveyhttp://www.gartner.com/it/page.jsp?id=1454917

Leveraging Social Listening Programs To Develop Market & Competitive Intelligence to Leapfrog Your Competition

Leveraging Social Media Capabilities and Applications to Develop Competitive Advantage – Three Current Social Media Mega-Trends
Part One – Leveraging Social Insights & Intelligence to formulate better decisions to gain market, competitive, political and social advantage

In keeping a very close eye on the trends on the rise in the marketplace on how companies and government agencies are leveraging new social media capabilities and technologies, there are several on my radar screen that are coming up over and over again and again.  These trends are evidenced by the numerous requests I am receiving in these topic areas in the form of responses to proposals and information, requests for ‘lunch and learns’, requests to speak on the topic, etc.

Some of the hottest trends in the social media space from a corporate or governmental agency perspective are as follows:

1) Leveraging of Social Media and ‘Social Intelligence’ as a component to developing overall competitive and Market Intelligence Insights & Capabilities
2) The use of Intra-Social Enterprise Collaborative Platforms (ECPs) to enhance organizational productivity, internal collaboration and decrease overall go-to-market cycle time
3) The use of Intra-Corporate Social Crowd Sourcing ‘Innovation Acceleration’ Applications & Capabilities

Over the course of the next three blog entries, I will cover each of these social media mega-trend areas in the following format:
A. What is it – Description of the functionality this capability enables
B. What are the benefits – Why are companies and government agencies adopting and using this capability and how are they benefitting from its use
C. The hottest tools/applications in the market for this capability – who is leading, lagging, emerging
D. How do you implement it – what are the steps and considerations on implementing this capability within your organization and company

There are several instances where the use of social media insights could have helped organizations be better prepared for market shifts, product issues & defects, crisis management, and better able to spot trends regarding regulation, key opinion leaders, competitors, and go-to-market issues (sales, marketing, customer service, warranty claims, etc.). In the rest of this blog I will cover the first topic/trend of “Leveraging of Social Media and ‘Social Intelligence’ as a component to developing overall competitive and Market Intelligence Insights & Capabilities”:

A. BP Gulf Oil Spill – Admiral Thad Allen, Admiral from the Coast Guard who managed the gulf oil spill cleanup, indicated that if he had better insights into the issues and ‘mood’ of people through social media listening techniques, he would be much better prepared with action plans to respond to concerns, issues, inquiries, etc.

B. Toyota Stuck Accelerator Recall – If Toyota was monitoring the chat and commentary via many social media sites, it is very likely that they would have been able to spot potential automobile defect issues starting to trend and handle them earlier vs. blowing up in the media.

C. Egypt Social Unrest – Many of our intelligence agencies were caught off guard at the speed and magnitude of the protests that eventually topped the Mubarak regime. A few experts say that the information that this was going to occur was right in front of them in the form of Twitter, Facebook, blogs, etc. If they had a social intelligence platform and methodology to interpret the information, it is also likely that this would not have been such a surprise to the CIA and other intelligence agencies.

D. Drug Issues & Recalls – Had Pharmaceutical and Life Sciences Companies had a social or market intelligence solution in place, many say that companies would have been able to spot very early the issues with Vioxx, Tylenol, etc. Many people were commenting about the problems with these drugs via social media, but many companies were not listening, hence unable to respond until the issue hit crisis mode.

A. What is Social & Market Intelligence – Social Intelligence is the collection, aggregation, assimilation and dissemination of information from social media forums, blogs, wikis, websites in order to spot key trends around topics of interest such as the following:
1. Key opinion leader sentiment,
2. Regulatory issues, news, public sentiment trends,
3. Consumer feedback on your products and services,
4. Consumer concerns with product safety or availability,
5. Public sentiment about current issues, political leaders, public policy, etc.
6. Public sentiment about how a crisis is being (mis)handled
7. Information on your company or brand activity such as consumer feedback, market issues, market facing issues or trends, new products/services, news, etc.
8. Information on competitor activity such as consumer feedback, market issues, market facing issues or trends, new products/services, news, etc.

This function is usually developed into a single Market or Competitive Intelligence portal as a one stop shop to all market insights. The information will also bring together functions such as text mining, comingling of structured and unstructured data and text, and trend analysis and alerting and will also integrate with Business Process Management (BPM) functions in order to make the insights collected – actionable.

B. What are the benefits – Why are companies and government agencies adopting social Intelligence capabilities?
There are many benefits to adopting this social and/or market intelligence capability as follows:

a) Ability to capitalize on competitor trending market issues or weaknesses
b) Ability to spot competitor trends or new market initiatives before they erode you market share
c) Ability to accurately spot Key Opinion Leader (KOL) issues, trends, or preferences in order to  respond with products/services/policies that are in-line   with these stated needs/preferences
d) Ability to spot consumer sentiment trends that will impact or change regulation that might impact your company or organization
e) Ability to gauge unmet market demand or needs via consumer sentiment
f) Ability to gauge trends in the social-political climate and mood of the country in order to accurately predict needed public policy changes
g) Ability to spot and respond to potential product defect trending issues early before they get to crisis mode and erode your brand image
h) Ability to have an integrated  ‘one stop shop’ repository for all market relevant information – news, blogs, web feeds, RSS feeds, structured data, unstructured data, text feeds, etc. 
i) Ability to accurately gauge social moods and perceptions during the time of crisis in order to develop responsive programs and messaging in order to demonstrate proactiveness and responsiveness
j) Ability to filter out social noise and one-off commentary vs. significant trends and market shifts

The trick in realizing these benefits is twofold. One, you must develop robust trending functionality in order to filter out the noise associated with a few comments being said about a certain topic in order to be focused on rapidly building or significant trends vs. sentiment blips.  The second is integrating the social insights with Business Process Management (BPM), so that actionable projects or programs are put in place once significant and impactful trends are spotted. Chart 1 Illustrates how the social media listening lifecycle should be structured in order to develop a robust social and market intelligence capability.

CHART 1

C. The hottest tools/applications in the market for this capability

Some of the hottest platforms in the social listening space are as follows:
Leading Social Listening Tools:
1) Attensity – Attensity Analytics Suite. Social Monitoring and Analytics
2) Converseon – Conversation Monitor, Conversation Miner. Converseon also performs outbound social conversation management via their Conversation Manager
3) Jive – Social Media Engagement Platform – Inbound Monitoring and Outbound Community & Conversation Management
4) Lithium – Social Media Monitoring Console (formerly Scout Labs). Lithium is also a leading conversation management platform.
5) Nielsen  – BuzzMetrics. Nielsen also performs outbound social conversation management via BuzzMetrics.
6) Radian6 – Radian6 Listening Dashboard. Radian6 also performs outbound social conversation management via the Radian6 Engagement Console. 

Next Tier (alphabetically): 
1) Alterian – SM2
2) Collective Intellect – Social CRM Insights 
3) Cymfony – Cymfony Maestro Platform
4) Dow Jones – Dow Jones Insight
5) Evolve 24 – The Mirror
6) Visible Technologies – TruCast Suite

In addition to the social listening companies and platforms above, many new firms are entering this space at an incredible pace. I recently performed a vendor selection for one of my clients with many of the above tools and the selection process was extensive.  If anybody needs additional insights into these vendor or platform capabilities, please feel free to contact me for assistance.

D. How do you implement it – what are the steps and considerations on implementing this capability within your organization and company

I have developed this capability for several Fortune 500 companies and the capability can be enabled via three (3) Major steps as follows (Summarized):

A) Step #1: Develop a Social Media Monitoring and Strategy including the following:

1) Social Intelligence Strategy/Vision, Objectives, Business Drivers, Critical Success Factors, Community/ Forum Listening Strategy, Key Metrics & Performance Plan, Organizational Plan, Change Management Plan, Communications & Risk Management Plan, monitoring policies, governance plan

B) Step #2: Social Media Technology Platform Evaluation & Selection
     1) Identify potential social media platform & community management vendors
     2) Develop Needed Listening Requirements and Capabilities
     3) Perform Technology Platform Vendor Selection
     4) Onboard Vendor

C) Step #3: Develop Social Media Program Pilots & Deployment Plan
     1) Develop Pilot Project & Deployment Plan
     2) Develop Technology Pilots
     3) Develop  Program Pilots
     4) Develop Organization & Process Pilots
     5) Deploy Pilots and Programs including
           a.  Center of Excellence Deployment
           b.  Multi-Channel Integration
           c.  Policies/Processes
           d.  Roles, Rules, Responsibilities
           e.  Change Management

In summary, Social Intelligence, Social Monitoring, Competitive Intelligence and Market Intelligence are gaining a great deal of Momentum.  Many Fortune 500 companies are either planning to implement this capability or already have.  The practice has gained so much momentum there are even associations and groups being formed like the Strategic and Competitive Intelligence Professionals (SCIP) group (http://scip.org/index.cfm ) in order for members to collaborate and share best practices. Is your organization planning on implementing this potentially game-changing capability? If so, give me a call, I call help you achieve world-class programs that enable you to surpass your competition and bring your organization or agency to the next level of market and social intelligence.

Social Media Pitfalls and Mistakes – the Seven Deadly Sins of Social Media Programs

Social Media Pitfalls and Mistakes – the Seven Deadly Sins of Social Media Programs

By Steven Jeffes

How Fortune 500 Companies Make Critical Social Media Mistakes and How These Can be Avoided

The following is a synopsis of the seven deadly Social Media Sins that Fortune 500 companies commit when developing & managing social media programs and are detailed in my post below:

1)      Organization & GovernanceDepartmental infighting and inconsistencies cause social media disconnects and customer confusion

2)      Program MeasurementCompanies are lulled into a false sense of security by believing they have a great social media program

3)      Policy & Standards:  Companies do more harm than good by being erratic & unpredictable to their customers

4)      Program Process:  Successful delivery of a social media program is not repeatable due to the lack of a process excellence model

5)      Legal & Regulatory Compliance: Social Media Program exposes the company to huge compliance and customer management issues

6)      Human Resource Management (HRM): Human resources misses the opportunity to empower and excite the workforce about social media

7)      Financial Performance: Success of social media is judge via subjective vs. objective and financial performance measures

Remember the dot com days in the 1980’s and early 1990’s when companies furiously scrambled to add an e-channel or internet communications to their list of capabilities and rarely gave a second thought on how to efficiently integrate these capabilities with existing off-line & traditional channels? Remember when ‘just adding something’ and demonstrating any e-channel capability to the public was critical and ‘online’ departments, organizations and functions were added as separate silos within the overall organization? Also remember the effort that went into trying to undo some of the inefficiencies caused by these non-integrated and dichotomous processes, procedures and operations?

Any guess to what is happening today from a Social Media standpoint for many companies? In short, Dejavu is occurring in regard to Social Media and many companies are ignoring the hard lessons that should have been learned during the 80’s. Indeed, many companies are proceeding down the same path without fully considering the correct methodology to use and unfortunately will end up designing programs with the same discontinuities and pitfalls as they did when developing an internet capability.

The following chart is a quick comparison of the companies in the dot com 80’s and the parallel to the development of social media capabilities of today:

Dot Com 1980’s Internet Capability Development

Social Media Capability Development Current Comparison

Adding Capabilities just to show up

Yes

Build now/fast, determine how to integrate later

Yes

Build functions in silos or with just a few departments

Yes

Ad-hoc inter-organizational program governance

Yes

Processes and organization not totally optimized

Yes

Standards and Policy Developed on the fly

Yes

Financial Business Case Not Fully DevelopedYes

As part one of a series of blog posts, the following post will provide you with an overview of the seven areas where I have seen my Fortune 500 clients make major mistakes when attempting to develop top-notch social media programs. Following this post, I will address how a best-in-class social media program development methodology I have developed called SMARTE – The Social Media Adaptive/Responsive/Transcendent Enterprise enables companies to avoid many of these pitfalls and mistakes, but rather facilitates the development of a world-class social media program that leads to increased market share, higher brand values and increased customer loyalty.

The seven deadly Social Media Sins – Pitfalls and Mistakes Companies Make in Developing a World-Class Social Media Program:

1)    Social Media Organization & Governance:

One of the largest of the seven deadly social media sins is not determining the optimal way to govern a social media program, including determining who sets social media policy, develops social media standards, develops and/or approves processes, optimizes or aligns the organization, etc. Efficient and optimized social media programs are governed by governing organizations that include a great deal of cross-organizational representation and include legal, finance, marketing, customer service, brand management, human resources, etc.  In this fashion, decisions are made holistically and with insight into all organizational considerations prior to proceeding. Many companies I’ve analyzed commence social media program development with one or a few departments considered and the resulting programs are generally ad-hoc, non-systemic, disjointed and often myopic to their own department’s needs.  Ideally they should be holistically focused on the needs of the entire enterprise.  Some of the specific sins committed for social media organization and governance are as follows:

  • Social Media Programs are governed in silos vs. holistically, systemically, and cross-organizationally.
    • Issue Created: this creates many of the same problems as the issues that were create between the ‘on-line’ vs. ‘off-line’ organizations including discontinuities in customer communications, customer management inconsistencies, etc.
  • Social media program is started with just one or a few departments.
    • Issue Created: When additional departments develop social media capabilities, many times, much re-work needs to be done to standardize the process across departments
  • The Social Media Programs Organization is separated from the Customer Relationship Management Functions: Brand Management, Marketing, Sales, Customer Service, Field Service, Shareholder management, etc.
    • Issue Created: Customer management is handled inconsistently across all customer facing departments and functions which leads to customer frustration, confusion and resentment.  
  • Social Media customer intelligence is not integrated and managed as a strategic asset across all departments and organizations including Product Management, Branding, Campaign Management, Customer Experience, Sales.
    • Issue Created: Pockets of social media learnings and opportunities are not operationalized across all departments and functions, leading to many missed improvement opportunities.

2)    Social Media Program Measurement:

  • Social media metrics & Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) are not balanced between both internally and externally focused measures
    • Issue Created: By measuring too heavily on internal measures, companies can be lured into a false sense of social media success by believing they are successful when customers do not reflect this sentiment.  Additionally, by focusing too heavily on external measures, companies can be ignoring key internal efficiencies in delivering the social media program, hence driving up the cost of the program unnecessarily.
  • Social Media is treated as a ‘check-box’ and treated as a victory for just showing up vs. measuring sales, marketing, brand value gains
    • Issue Created: A feel good social media program is created and perpetuated where companies pat themselves on the back for just having a social media presence while potentially damaging customer relations (i.e. many programs that do more harm than good in terms of brand reputation). 
  • Social Media performance dashboards are not available for CxO level management to gauge program performance against key measures like brand value, average public sentiment, brand buzz and excitement values, etc.
    • Issue Created: Key issues impacting shareholder and/or stakeholder value are not missed and are not managed to create a positive impact.

3)    Social Media Program Policy & Standards:

  • Standards are not developed to consistently ascertain and respond to the ‘average customer sentiment’
    • Issue Created:  Each social media interaction is handled inconsistently; thus leading customers to perceive the program to be biased, unfair, and/or just poorly managed.
  • Brand consistency is not considered when developing social media programs and customer interaction is highly inconsistent
    • Issue Created: Companies do not present ‘one face to the customer’ and appear inconsistent, disjointed between departments and company’s brand quality is perceived to be highly variable
  • Standards and policy have not been created in terms of managing customer communication protocols: This includes frequency of responses, tone/manner of the responses, handling or rebutting negative brand or company comments, opt-ins/opt-outs, etc.
    •  
      • Issue Created: Companies do not present ‘one face to the customer’ and appear inconsistent, disjointed between departments and the company’s brand quality is perceived to be highly variable.

4)    Social Media Program Process:

  • A best practice process and organizational framework has not been fully considered for the social media program
    • Issue Created:  A best practice social media program is not just about technology and applications, but must be equally supported by a robust organizational and process framework. Lacking this structure, the program continually languishes in mediocrity without a governing continuous improvement process framework to evolve the program to world-class status.
  • Acknowledgement of customer brand input is not acknowledged and responded to which translates into a negative customer brand experience
  • Brands feel compelled to respond to every negative comment posted about their brand, products and/or organization
  • Utilizing traditional media tactics for bi-directional and conversational social media venues
    • Issue Created: Social Media interactions appear non-interactive, disingenuous, or canned, which in turn, leads to negative sentiment about the social media program being a corporate ivory tower programs that are perceived to not listen well or interact effectively. 
  • Inability to synthesize and analyze intelligence from across multiple social media venues or not listening to all relevant communities and platforms creates an inability to develop a coherent brand action plan
    • Issue Created: Key social media input and ‘intelligence’ is overlooked, creating many missed opportunities to positively influence brand perceptions, customer loyalty and company product & service quality perceptions. 

5)    Social Media Legal & Regulatory Compliance:

  • Regulatory compliance is or was not part of the overall social media program design such as the following sample regulatory rules that impact social media program design:
    • Financial Services: NASD 3010 and 3110, SEC Rule 17a-4, Gramm-Leach-Bliley.
    • Cross-Industry: Sarbanes Oxley Compliance.
    • Pharmaceutical: Fair Balance Act, Adverse Event Reporting, HIPAA Privacy Rule
  • Developing Social Media programs that assume customer opt-in permission and channel preferences are the same for traditional media
    • Issues Created: Huge customer trust issues are created that negatively impact brand value and company perceptions. Regulatory compliance publicity or fines are also at risk if compliance is not fully considered when designing a world-class social media program.

6)    Social Media Program Human Resource (HR):

  • HR does not tie social media program performance to individual key performance measures
  • Human resources fails to facilitate a sense of excitement about social media and is treated like ‘just another program’
  • Customer sentiment values are not tied to program and individual performance measures
  • Company employees are not encouraged, trained and incentivized to become social media conversation managers, Tweeters, Bloggers, etc  in order to converse with and positively influence constituencies, customers and stakeholders.
    • Issues Created: Employees feel left out and uninspired by the social media program vs. being excited, engaged and empowered to participate/communicate in order to facilitate program success.  

7)    Social Media Program Financial Performance:

  • Business case development for social media is not tied to financial  performance goals
  • Social media optimization tests do not take into account financial performance
  • Program are initiated with strong dose of intuition vs. realistic business cases vs. initiating each program based on ROI, payback periods, net present value discounting, etc.
    • Issues Created: Social Media is success is measured exclusively by highly subjective measures such as customer & program reach, customer sentiment, etc. vs. highly objective and financially driven measures such as sentiment vs. share of wallet, program reach vs. acquisition costs, etc.

Do you have any war stories that you like to share about social media programs that have gone awry? Has your company committed any of the above seven deadly social media sins? Do you have any other perspectives on mistakes companies make in developing and managing an enterprise-wide social media program?

My next series of blogs will be taking you through my SMARTE social media methodology on how to avoid all of the above mistakes in developing and managing an enterprise-wide social media program and will enable your company to develop a social media program that is considered world-class.

Effective SRM Programs: Leveraging the Power of Social Media to Boost Customer Loyalty and Build Customer Relationships

By Steven Jeffes

As companies seek ways to increase profitable revenue growth, the topic of Social Relationship Management (SRM), also known as RM 2.1, keeps getting more and more attention. Traditional RM systems reached out from the organization to target prospects and customers. By contrast, SRM tools put consumers in the driver’s seat, letting them interact with your company and brands on their own terms — reviewing products, creating community, making suggestions, creating brand sentiment. This outpouring of consumer activity translates into data to be sifted, analyzed, and reported, requiring new tools and techniques, often tied to traditional RM systems, in order to convert raw data into social media intelligence.

Unless you have been living in total isolation for the last 24-36 months, you have likely heard of or used Twitter, Facebook and/or LinkedIn among other social networking platforms. Chances are also likey that your company is vigorously interacting with customers and prospects online. You also also likely be unsure how to harness the new social media to raise your company’s profile on and off the Internet. Even more basic, you may be unsure how to discover what people are saying about your brand/products, and in which forums, called influence communities, they are commenting.  Most companies are just starting to climb the social media learning curve. But time is of the essence since companies ‘not in the game’ are considered to be laggards in terms of being stakeholder and constituent proactive.

Your customers, prospects, and competitors are all using social networks like LinkedIn, Plaxo, Facebook, YouTube, and Identi.ca in record numbers every day — and new sites and tools appear almost as frequently. These tools are a powerful way to connect with people, ascertain their needs, liste to their preferences, and more flexibly and quickly respond to their needs. Although consumers have been leading the social media revolution, Business-to-Business (B2B) companies can learn from the successes and failures made by other businesses that sell to consumers in this new social community. Harnessing social media in the context of B2B is the next major frontier to master.

Ranging in price from free to fairly expensive, SRM tools provide a robust means of interacting with your customers, gathering intelligence on your competition, and staying abreast of topics, trends, and sentiment that will be impactful to your brands/products/services/etc. While somewhat more rudimentary, even the free tools can help you find out who’s talking about your organization/brands/products/services/etc. and what is being said.

Establishing an Effective SRM Program

If you are not already doing it, you should start monitoring what your customers and others are saying online about your brand & products. This way you will get early warning if there is a public relations disaster in the making or, conversely, advance notice of good news like a new product finding its targeted audience. Sites like Yelp let customers post reviews of businesses. Some say that, if Toyota employed an effective social media listening program, it might have discovered the set of product issues earlier than was the case. Listening, however, it just the first step toward building an effective social media program.

Customers are posting their opinions on all sorts of Web sites and forums, and not just in the obvious ones. You need to get a ahead of the tide of customer opinion — good, bad, ever-changing — and monitoring all of the potential sites manually is likely to be more than you can handle. Tools that help you aggregate and analyze social media sentiment or manage social media conversations in masse can keep you from drowning in the vast sea of on-line opinions. 

I recently helped a credit card company analyze customer sentiment around its new-customer onboarding process. Using a sentiment analysis tool, I set thresholds for comment similarity and frequency. For example, if the number of negative customer comments regarding a certain credit card fee went over the pre-set threshold, an alert would be sent to the marketing and customer service teams, urging them to take action.  

Each alert kicked off a workflow of tasks which provided guidance on how to respond to what was being said. An abundance of negative comments relating to fees might trigger a strategic set of campaigns to educate customers on how to reduce their fees, as an example. Additionally, if a significant number of customer comments concerned customer service issues relating to on-boarding process, then that would launch a workflow to address and rectify the situation. My client was able to adjust the number of comments that would trigger the alerts, and this threshold was easy to fine tune as necessary.  Keeping on top of customer opinion helped this credit card company address customer complaints in a timely manner while also understanding which parts of the on-boarding process were working well and which processes needed improvement. The company was able to reduce its total on-boarding cycle time by 11 to 16% by implementing a continuous improvement program based on what was being learned via this social media ‘listening’.  This credit card company has since expanded its sentiment analysis to other sectors of the business.

Identify & Interact with Key Influencers

Using an online sentiment analysis tool provides you with real-time awareness of the tide of customer/consumer opinion. What you do then with that knowledge is critical to successful social media program. Like my credit card client, you will likely want to tweak (or even completely change) your campaigns and communications strategy according to major trends in social media sentiment from key influencers. Whatever you do, my advice is to proceed with caution.

Although it is tempting to respond in kind to every negative commentary, that can be a dangerous path. I have all seen cases of tit-for-tat on all sorts of Internet forums — decorum is often not part of the debate. It is best to steer clear of vitriolic exchanges in any forum, no matter how tempting.

On the other hand, if done with common sense and sensitivity to the overall audience, there are certain instance in which you might choose to respond on an individual basis to a negative comment. You may want to engage if the comment is wrong or unfair, especially if the poster appears to be a key influencers (i.e., other people in the forum and/or community appear to be swayed by that person’s opinion).

As an example, Campbell’s Soup Co. recently used Twitter to take on a poster’s critique of the company’s advertisements for its 80-calorie Select Harvest Light soup. The person making the post via Twitter took exception to the commercial’s implication that competitors’ 300-plus-calorie soups were fattening. Campbell’s Soup Co. immediately fired back on Twitter, pointedly calling the poster’s views ‘extreme’. It remains to be seen if this was the right approach, but if a company believes it has been wrongly called out by someone, it has the same right to use social media to defend their brand image and reputation. Just beware of unintended consequences such as being considered brand myopic or being ‘big brother’ and not allowing any reasonable 3rd party opinions.

Another situation in which you should engage directly with a customer or influencer is when there is a legitimate customer service issue. In fact, some companies are using Twitter (e.g. Dell Computers, Southwest Airlines, Home Depot, Pandora, Starbucks, Comcast, H&R Block) as a customer support platform because of its ease of use and real-time interaction capabilities. The are many classic case stories such as the person stranded in the airport, stuck between flights and miserably tweeting about their negative experience. In a point-of-service situation like this, the airline can and should intervene to help this customer. By responding in a positive way, the potential for increased customer loyalty is immense, both from the customer who was helped and anyone else who might hear (and re-comment) about it. Everyone loves a feel-good story about a company going above and beyond to help their customers in need.

Get Them on Your Side: From Brand Detractor to Brand Advocate

Another technique for handling specific negative commentary is to try to win him or her over and transform him or her from being a brand detractor (i.e., negative brand perceptions) into becoming a brand advocate (i.e., positive brand perceptions). Anyone who frequently makes posts to opinion web sites and micro-blogs clearly is willing to devote time and effort to the influencing the topic at hand. Many of these types are key opinion leaders and key influencers (i.e., the top reviewers on Amazon.com). If you can succeed in getting this key influencer on your side, you may gain a tireless brand champion, an invaluable asset in swaying online opinion toward having a positive image of your brands, products, services, etc.

In any case, you must approach a key opinion leader cautiously, as they are likely to be cynical about ‘corporate intent’ and ‘influencing’ efforts.  Start incrementally by asking for additional input on a particular topic.  Or, ask that person to join a client advisory board — but be sure to provide meaningful opportunities to provide feedback. Due to their savvy nature, key opinion leaders will immediately sense any attempt to manipulate their opinions, so small incremental interactions and progress is recommended. It is hard for customer, or even the sharpest critics, to fault a company that keeps asking for their thoughts and ideas in order to make their brand and customer experience better.

Another strategy to accomplish the same goal is even more subtle. Without interacting with key opinion leader directly, try to drive them to links to pages or sites where you are gathering specific product feedback. By allowing them to participate in shaping things, you are them demonstrating to them you are responsive and listening to your constituencies, communities and people who really count – their key stakeholders.

Some companies even go a little further, allowing online visitors to become active participants in shaping their next set of products, new services, or even TV advertisement (i.e., the Doritos user-generated Super Bowl ad). Called “crowd sourcing,” this technique may seem risky and chaotic, but can result in new products that more closely match customer needs. (Twenty million visitors all saying they want the same thing can’t be all that wrong).

Steps to Developing World-Class Social RM & Loyalty Programs

For many companies, developing an effective SRM strategy is still a work in progress. That’s understandable, but I strongly recommend to get started as soon as possible. If you’re unsure what to do next, consider the following concepts:

  • Create your social media personality and develop positive brand perceptions. Social media offers strong opportunities for organizations to reinforce their brand image and differentiate themselves from other companies and brands. Social media can enable your brand to set forth and brand ‘personality’, one that customers, prospects and influencers can better resonate with. I recommend using short-term promotions to shape your visitor perceptions and create a positive buzz around your organization’s brand image.
  • Engage customers, prospects and key influencers in bi-directional conversations in order to develop relationships. Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube and other similar tools offer you a chance to develop a relationship with your on-line visitors that goes beyond traditional transactions. The interactive capabilities of social media offer the chance to ask questions and post comments – finally a way to enable a two-way dialogue vs. the traditional company to customer monologue. For the organization, it enables an online & bi-directional relationship (SRM) that can assist in the improvement of customer service, product development, marketing, investor relations, etc.
  • Interact and Disseminate Information at the ‘Speed of Need’: Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn can rapidly disseminate a message to a wide group of members or interested parties. This can be especially helpful for product alerts, special promotions, fraud alerts, service outages, or weather-related schedule changes. While your physical message might not reach everyone, getting the information even to a smaller group reinforces the perception of good customer service and might just become viral if the message is structured such that it encourages repeating via word-of-mouth means.  The key here is to communicate at the speed of when it is needed (speed of need) by your customers and constituencies.

Social media sites, tools and programs are here to stay, and I consider that a good thing for your company and your brand. Arriving at the right SRM strategy requires a good deal of thought and care, but it is worth undertaking. With each passing minute, more of your competitors are mastering SRM, and in order to be considered credible in the marketplace, you must at least match their program. (The company with 3 million followers is demonstrably better off than the one with 3,000.)

More importantly, when your SRM program is optimized, customers will feel more connected to your brand. Social media also enables bi-directional customer intimacy, which customers in increasing numbers are expecting, and is a powerful hedge against the forces that are constantly eroding customer loyalty. The traditional push (i.e., monologue – company to customer) method of information flow does not mesh well with the on-line world. In this world, your customers are seeking more honesty, forthrightness, and transparency, and if you give them what they want, the potential for increased customer and brand loyalty is enormous

Social Media Campaigns That Drive Bottom Line Results!

By Steven Jeffes

Infrastructure Establishes a Social Media Foundation, Campaigns Capture Business

Many firms can say they can help your business in social media, all offering help in setting up Fan Pages, web pages, event and photo pages, groups, SEO, etc.  All of this will help you establish a basic presence with Social Media as the bare minimum you will need in setting social media infrastructure, but very little of this foundation building activity will actually help you drive real business by now merely showing up on social media. What is needed to be successful in the realm of social media, after setting up this basic infrastructure, is architecting a robust campaign management program to help drive additional prospects, inquiries, build relationships, and drive actual new or repeat customers.  A sample of the many social media components many firms will attempt to sell your company explains why most are not revenue generating, but rather basic infrastructure and foundation setting in nature:

ComponentDescriptionNet ResultFan PagesEstablishes a landing area about your organization and businessBasic Facebook web page to be discovered – infrastructureLinkedIn & Facebook GroupsEstablishes a group for people to join with a common purpose or affinityBuilding a basic presence on which people ‘might’ join – infrastructureLinkedIn EventsEstablishes events for direct 1st level contact to sign-up with intent to attendBuilding a basic presence on which people ‘might’ attend – infrastructureTwitter PagesEstablished a landing area about your organization and businessBasic Twitter web page to be discovered or ‘followed’ – infrastructureSocial Media Analytics or Sentiment Analysis ToolsDevelops listening posts at various social media venues and communities to gauge public sentiment about your company, products, brands, servicesDevelops intelligence on what conversations are occurring that are relevant to your business – infrastructureSocial Media Campaigns such as connection to me campaigns or fan campaigns that drive increases in fans, friends, or connections (refer to sample campaigns below)Drives increases in general audiences and in specific segments for campaign targeting and for sales closure.Increases the universe of potential customers and specific groups with affinity toward your specific products and/or services. Closes sales for your products and services

The bottom line with the above is that many activities will set up a presence within social media, but few activities drive real leads and closed business like social media campaigns.  Social Media pages, events, groups, etc. all develop the repository (setting up the pool) for people to come to when asked, but social media campaigns actually drive people to sign-up, join, fan, friend, etc. (filling the pool with high quality water) that will then be captive for driving and closing new business.  The following sections will look at some examples of how social media campaigns have driven increased prospects and real/closed business.

Social Media Messages All Seems Like a Stream of Consciousness with No Rhyme or Reason”…

Several times in the past few months, several of my clients have commented to me that they see many firms putting out messages via Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, etc. that are mostly a stream of consciousness and seemingly have “no rhyme or reason”.  My comments back to them was that, for many companies who do not know how to use social media effectively, that is the impact they are having – sending out uncoordinated and unfocused streams of consciousness without a consistent theme, goal, brand message, and in many cases annoying messages about mundane and uninteresting topics more about themselves vs. anything anybody else would be interested in reading.  In essence, these companies are turning off the very people that they are trying to sell to via social media.

I was then asked if there was a way to change this so that companies were sending more coordinated, interesting communications that all made sense and built upon one another to generate a common and interesting theme.  This would encourage people to read more, and more importantly, make them interested in potentially purchasing the company’s products and/or services.  My response to this seemingly silly question was “of course there is.” 

One of the main ways companies can end this stream of consciousness existence on social media, is to utilize a campaign planning template I use for all of my clients in order to facilitate a more professional and coordinated presence on all social media sites.  Similar to the campaign plan/brief/planning template that many of the best of breed Marketing Automations software tools employ like Unica, SAS, Oracle CRM, SAP CRM, Chordiant and Alterian, this campaign planning template can bring order, clarity and relevancy to your messaging on social media sites. It can literally transform your presence from the realm of annoying, irrelevant, and to be ignored – or worse, de-friended, opteded-out, de-connected, etc. to being highly engaging, referred to via viral forwarding, and saved on ‘favorites’ list and other must follow mechanisms.

This campaign template also enables your campaigns to be successful in converting new business by be synchronizing them from a cross-platform perspective (e.g. Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, etc.) such that present consistent and complimentary messaging that supports your overall brand strategy and campaign themes.  Employing this facilitates your firm in building intelligence into your social media campaigns by pre-designing a campaign brief around key message themes for each platform.  This template is a very small part of a Social Media Best Practice Design Methodology and toolkit that I have developed called SMARTE – The Social Media Adaptive/Responsive/Transcendent Enterprise.  A sample of this Social Media Campaign Planning Template, which is part of this SMARTE methodology, (in summary form), is as follows:

Social Media Campaign Planning Template:

Campaign Brief: Theme, Goals, Tactics, Platform Targets, etc.Campaign Theme: Social Media for Automobile DealersCampaign Timing: May 1 – May 30thCampaign Periodicity: One message ever other day on each platformPlatforms: Twitter, LinkedIn FacebookCampaign Success Metrics: Ten  Inquires, Two signed ContractsCampaign Goals:  Convince automobile dealers and brokersCampaign Targets: Automobile Dealers and BrokersCampaign Tactics: Generate dealer general interest in social media from May 1-15; Communicate how to be success in social media from May 15-20; Communicate we know how to from May 21 – 30th.Lead Follow-Up:  E-mail “Social media for dealers” white paper, dealer testimonials, and invite to June 15th Webinar – “Dealing for Dollars – A dealer’s social media success guide.Platform Specific Campaign & Message PlansLinkedIn Campaign Messaging Plan:May 1: Auto Dealers benefit from social media via 7% lift in sales in MarchMay 3: Dealers find that social media generated leads account for top 35% of most profitable customers.….May 16th: First steps to developing a highly effective dealership social media program: http://xys123.com…May 28th: Auerback dealership recognizes Edgeup Marketing for excellence in social media:http://abc711.comTwitter Campaign Messaging Plan:May 1: …May 3rd: …Facebook Campaign Messaging Plan:May 1: …May 3rd: …

The top part of this template under the heading “Campaign Brief: Theme, Goals, Tactics, Platform Targets, etc.”lays out the overall plan for the campaign and form the global parameters governing the campaign such as goals, timing, success metrics and KPIs, tactics, lead-follow up plan, etc. As part of my SMARTE methodology, I employ an SCAPE of Social Campaign Analysis, Planning & Execution methodology to plan and architect highly successful social media campaigns.

The bottom part of this template under the heading “Platform Specific Campaign & Message Plans” lays out the overall plan for the platform specific campaign messaging that support the campaign such as goals, timing, success metrics and KPIs, tactics, lead-follow up plan, etc. The development of this part of the template is also part of the SCAPE of Social Campaign Analysis & Planning methodology from the overall SMARTE Methodology.

Campaign Execution & Follow-Up

During and following the execution of these campaigns, a similar template governs the follow-up to all campaigns activities, leads generated, inquires, 2nd wave follow-up campaigns and needs to be carefully considered when developing the original campaign.  In this SCARF or Social Campaign Analysis & Response Follow-Up template, all contingencies are accounted for in terms of plans needed to follow up on the campaign including the business rules needed to support the follow-up, the campaign resources required, the type of response required by segment, etc.  I chose SCARF for this component since every aspect of the campaign response needs to be wrapped up and accounted for in order for the campaign to be considered actionable and successful.

Social Media Campaign Success Samples:

The following are a few sample campaigns I’ve executed via social media with this method that have netted huge results in very short periods of time that have helped me acquire several new contracts representing net new business for my firm:

A)   LinkedIn – 15,000+ group members in ~1.5 years!

Consider the following real accomplishments I have accumulated in the realm of group management via the execution of intelligent and coordinated social media ‘connect to me’ campaigns:

  1. In the past year or so I have established and grown the following mega-groups on LinkedIn, each with over 1,200 members by leveraging effective social media viral campaigns:

a)      Current and Former CSC Employees – 8,100+ Members

b)      Lockheed-Martin Employees – 2,100+ Members

c)       General Electric Current & Former Employees – 1,600+ Members

d)      Capital District & Upstate NY Professionals – 3,200+ Members

e)      IBM Current & Former Employees1,380 Members

When these groups were first formulated, I adopted an ‘invite a friend’ campaign for many of these groups whereby I encouraged and incentivize people to invite their friends, colleagues, associates, etc. to join these groups. The incentive to invite a friend encouraged each existing member to invite their friend, colleague, associate to the group to grow each of the group’s membership. Where I am still employing this campaign, the Capital District & Upstate NY Professionals is adding about 200 members a month across New York State. I also recently re-branded and expanded the group to include most of New York State – from Plattsburgh to Tarrytown and from the Berkshires of Massachusetts all the way to Rochester and Ithaca. Through this active campaigning, this group is now the largest social networking group in all of Upstate NY. 

While the above numbers do not rival the number for some other broader groups categories like ‘Marketers’ or ‘Job Seekers’, the groups member drives above have done well given the limited and narrowly audiences for each group.

These group connections now enables me direct access to over 15,000 professionals world-wide that I can promote my consulting services. As a result, I have landed several consulting contracts through these LinkedIn groups worth $500k+, by using these now large social media groups as a sourcing area for new business – thanks directly to intelligent and **free** social media campaigning.

B)    LinkedIn – 3,000 connections in ~1 year!

By utilizing the group template function of LinkedIn, I employ and ongoing campaign to send a personalized message to everyone who joins one of the above groups to connect to me and to follow some of my activities as follows:

Welcome to the “Capital District and Upstate NY Professionals” Group!

I am the President, Founder and Group Manager for the “Capital District and Upstate NY Professionals” Group and I’d like to welcome you to the group. Please feel free to reach out to me if you might need any assistance from this group and/or any of the members of the group.  Good news – this group just surpassed 3,200 members since I formed this group in late last July! **We are now the largest (and most active) social networking group in Upstate NY!!**

Please invite me to your network if we are not already connected http://www.linkedin.com/in/stevenjeffes. Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/steven.jeffes, Twitter: http://twitter.com/SocialSteven

Also – check out my brand new blog on Social Media at: http://stevenjeffes.wordpress.com/

Please send the following link to your friends and colleagues to invite them to this group:http://www.linkedin.com/e/gis/153859

Lastly, please also check out my career profile website (Social Media & Marketing Subject Matter Expert) at http://www.Stevenjeffes.com and my consulting company website at http://www.edgeupmarketing.com and my awards/client letters at: http://www.stevenjeffes.com/stevenjeffes_awards.html. I am also an adjunct professor at Excelsior College teaching an array of Business & Technology classes.

Thank you,

Steven M. Jeffes, LinkedIn Founder & Group Manager

            (518) 339-5857       (Cellular, message)

Capital District & Upstate NY Professionals – Upstate New York’s Largest and Most Active Social Networking Group

Through this “connect to me upon joining” campaign, I now have built over 3,000 first line contacts on LinkedIn in approximately a 1 year period of time by soliciting a connection to me from everyone who joins the above groups. In addition, everyone invites me to connect with them, which totally precludes me from using up any of my limited LinkedIn invites.   This pool of 3,000 highly accomplished current and ex-professionals from Lockheed-Martin, IBM, GE, etc. now become my audience for business development activities for my consulting services.

C)    Facebook – 4,400 friends in four (4) months!

As a result of intelligent campaigning, I have now amassed 4,400 Facebook friends in a four (4) month period of time – almost unheard of according to many Facebook experts.  Many people take several years to accumulate this many friends and 5,000 is currently the lifetime limit you can have on Facebook.  Through an intelligent execution of Facebook Friends campaigns, I amassed this many friend in the period of October 1, 2009 and January 31st, 2010 – just a four month period of time.  Through a ‘suggest a friend’ campaign, 3,800 friends were referred to me, all of which were highly correlated to the needs and interests of my marketing, CRM, and social Media consulting business.

In addition, most of these 4,400 friends are businesses and not persons as is typically the case and include the following business categories:

Albany NY Businesses, Appliances, Architects, Ashville NC Businesses, Auto Dealers, Banks & Credit Unions, Bridge & Port Authority, Brokers, Chambers of Commerce and Convention & Visitor’s Bureaus , College & Education, Computer, Construction, Contractors, Cosmetics, Culinary, Dental, Energy, Environment, Equipment, Fire & Police, Fishing Charters, Foods, Furniture, Gifts, Golf, Government, Health, High School, Hospitals & Medical, Hotels, HR & Recruiting, Insurance, Jewelers, Library, Limo & Transportation, Manufacturing, Media & Films. Metals, News, Not For Profits, Optical, Payroll, Pharmaceuticals, Politics, Pools & Spas, Printing, Professional Friends, Public Interest, Real Estate, Recycling, Restaurant & Wineries, Roofing, Security, Spas, Sporting Goods, Stadiums & Arenas, State & National Parks, Supermarkets, Technology, Travel, Utility Companies, Veterans, Yacht Companies

Personalized Campaigns – Messaging Specific to Each Group:

As a result of being able to save my Facebook friends into the above customized business categories, I can personalize campaigns and messages to individual businesses within these industries. For example and as a result of having a great deal of business experience with pharmaceutical companies in the area of CRM and social media, I just launched a customized campaign to Pharmaceutical companies with the title of “Social Media in the Pharmaceutical Industry – Mastering the Four C’s: Challenges, Concerns, Considerations, Capabilities. Based on this campaign, I am now planning of delivering several workshops on the topic to several pharmaceutical companies. 

Social Media Campaign Success – Similar Stories?

The above shares a small sample of the success I have enjoyed planning and executing campaigns for my own firm and for other companies.  I would open this blog up for people to share their own success stories in social media campaigning and to share insights on what other methods, campaigns, tools, and techniques you have utilized to drive social media campaign success for bottom line results