Monthly Archives: February 2010

Why Social Media is Like a Donut

The Social Media Donut

Glazed Donut

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E-Consultancy recently published a report on business useage of Social Media.  While reviewing an excerpt of the report, it struck me that many firms are in the Early Adopter stage.

While I’m not questioning the research report, I am left wondering what this all really means.

When an organization says it is ‘experimenting’ with Social Media, is it merely allowing employees to be on Twitter and Facebook during the work day, perhaps to keep GenY employees happy?

Does ‘heavy involvement’ mean that someone has been hired full time to Tweet about a company’s offers? Is it having a few brand ‘friends’ on Facebook? Is it having an research analyst sift through monitoring dashboards for some pithy consumer comment?

Of those who ‘don’t do anything’, is it because Social Media  is not the right way to engage their customers? Is it because other channels are proven and deliver accountability for results?

It’s really about the hole in the donut – the organizational white space in which one must ask: “What is Social Media in the first place?”  To wit, “In my experience, the white space has always been where the action is.” – Dr. W. Edwards Demming.

– Ted Morris, 4ScreensCRM

Marketing Research Mindset: Stop Debating ‘Social’

Yes, look here for answers

Is it research or something else? Social media, Business Intelligence, Customer Relationship Management, Online Communities and Marketing Research (MR) – all are ways to listen and understand customers.

My guess is that MR is filled with the most angst amidst some sort of identity crisis in relation to social media.  Witness this recent piece in Research Magazine:

The survey of marketers, conducted for the IAB by research agency Opinion Matters, found that the most common use of social media was to drive awareness and consideration of a brand, as well as engagement and advocacy. 60% of the firms surveyed said they were using social media for research purposes, but when asked where social media fits in their organisation (selecting all answers that applied from a total of six), only 12% chose research, compared to 73% who chose marketing, 33% who chose PR/communications and 20% who chose ‘other’.

No wonder there is angst. MR isn’t really seen as delivering value when in comes to social media. If you get a migrane just thinking about social media, consider the following possible remedies:

1. Social Media won’t go away but respondents have: While people are giving up land lines and don’t like getting unsolicited mail, they’re opting to express opinion on the Internet in a pure, organic way. Partner with an online monitoring firm and create a new social science.

2. Stop hiring more MR professionals: Instead, hire people who understand the digital space. Marketing Technologists speak to ways in which applications enable the marketing process and the customer experience. Innovate.

3. Clients are buying-in to marketing research online (MROCs) and owned media platforms: In order to deliver incremental perceived value – business insights or new ideas – you must play in the right sandbox when it comes to customer listening.

4. Stop acting like an accounting function : It’s the job of the MR professional to guide the CMO and others, in a brand or customer management role, to see the way forward. Focus on what’s in the cloud and drive the next big idea. Act in real-time.

5. If you try to prove ROI you will die: Ask yourself, how many things does an enterprise do without having to justify with ROI? Do marketing, strategy, HR and finance have to deliver ROI to justify their existence? MR needs to focus on business benefits as the way of knitting together social media across the enterprise. Be the Voice of the Customer.

Leadership is the best way to overcome angst and clears the way for taking ownership. No one will fault you for that.

– Ted Morris, 4ScreensCRM

Marketing Research is Fun!

Becoming Customer-Centric: The Social Enterprise

“Time discovers truth”, said the Roman philosopher Seneca 2000 years ago.

With this in mind, it’s been some time since I taught the course “Becoming Customer-Centric” at IBM‘s Advanced Business Institute in Palisades, NY. This was when the Internet was an enabler of e-business and  CRM was in its early days. Social networks did not exist.

So I recently thought of the “Social Enterprise”. Back in Y2K,  CRM was seen as the panacea for companies with a vision to become customer-centric. This is to say, enterprises lead with technology to drive CRM implementation. Other companies adopted the “Outside-In” view, with the customer as focal point, as their approach to delivering optimal business value across every customer touchpoint.

Things are much different now and for the better. Here’s why:

1. The Portable Brand: The web and the world of the customer has given rise to the Open Brand – On-demand, Personal, Engagement and Networking. This does not mean loss of brand control, but instead, new opportunity to deliver flawless customer experiences, across all touchpoints, according to the brand promise. Mobile applications now afford customers to interact with their favourite brands as they are on the move around the physical and virtual worlds, hence the “Portable Brand”.

2. Customer Outsourcing: New opportunties abound, especially in customer service at pennies per transaction. This is especially true for mobile apps at under $0.10 per contact but also of web-based transactions where customers provide instant feedback on the experience. Customers are saying “come into my process” as they exert their new found powers to influence the relationship agenda.

3. The Web as Data Warehouse: The Internet is a vast but unorganized data warehouse of customer experience stories waiting to be mined –  it’s like harvesting bottled water from a huge stream virtually for free; a new era of customer behavioural analytics will re-define the traditional purchase funnel;

4. “Outside-In” rediscovered: Companies can extend their boundaries deep into the customer’s world in a most personal way to the point where the company/customer boundary disappears. This effectively renders the product-led “Inside-out” approach to process design and technology selection obsolete especially for brands that evoke high emotional involvement on the part of the customer;

5.Sense & Respond” is redefined: The Social Web transcends geography therefore providing global brands with a unique opportunity to leverage their footprint in all markets, in real time, always on. Companies are taking on new ways of listening to customers via online monitoring of consumer-generated content, running viral advertising campaigns and engaging cusumers in on-line forums and communities.

Upon further reflection, those days at the Palisades might as well been in Seneca’s time.

– Ted Morris, 4ScreensCRM

The Media Prism: Earned, Paid and Owned

In a recent post by Brian Solis, “Why Brands are Becoming Media“, there was reference to a grid developed by Forrester that attempts to define a new way to segment media channels or ‘customer touchpoints’:

The above is a fine represention as it brings a high level order to this complex new media mix. As a CRM and Marketing Technology professional I believe in being focused on business process with a  view to implementation. Here is my ‘managerial’ grid:

Clearly the media landscape is changing continuously and many more iterations will develop as we move along the maturity curve. At this point, it’s not so much a matter of what is right or wrong, rather, what works best for each of us as we look through the multi-faceted media prism.

– Ted Morris, 4ScreensCRM

The Portable Brand: Take Your Bank With You

ARF Listening Playbook – Seven Deadly Sins of Listening: Opinion

Steve Rappaport, Knowledge Solutions Director, Advertising Research Foundation recently outlined in the WARC Blog a number of ‘bad habits’ that diminish the effectiveness of listening to consumer-generated content.

The following is intended to serve as a complementary viewpoint founded on fact-based marketing research and CRM consulting:

ARF Deadly Sin #1. Checklisting: The practice of gathering vendor or software capabilities and features, and comparing them in fancy grids, which give the appearance of thoroughness.

4ScreensCRM: Vendor evaluation is important but can only be done effectively if mapped against client process and technology requirements. As a start, provide your client with a roadmap that outliness potential outcomes and various paths to those end points. This should help with the anticipation of possible futures and builds a foundation for the initial strategy.

ARF Deadly Sin #2. Questionable Rigor: Listening is an emerging research discipline with a variety of approaches, but without standardized industry practices or an extensive body of research-on-research to date. Given the newness of the field, this is to be expected and will change over time.

4ScreensCRM: Provide your client with a business case that includes parameters for listening. Clients appreciate the need to pilot net new initiatives using an iterative approach to learning. Taking time to know what the ‘black box’ of the Internet contains is prudent in regulated industries such as pharmaceuticals.

ARF Deadly Sin #3. Adding Listening to Staff Work: It is common for someone in the research department to be designated the listening guru. However, that individual is usually just starting up the listening learning curve and can be easily overwhelmed by multiple demands – learning a new field, implementing listening research, understanding the results and sharing them throughout the company, all while performing their day job.

4ScreensCRM: Provide timely outsourcing capabilities with the right skills sets and tools to match the clients requirements. This will enable the client to keep focusing on their core business (e.g. make and sell automobiles) while at the same time forming in-house expertise along the way.

ARF Deadly Sin #4. Collecting Everything: It is easy to be seduced by social media metaphors – “rivers of conversation” is one, and it leads to thinking that relevant conversations are everywhere and flowing.

4ScreensCRM: Direct your client to places (URLs) where there is meaningful and legitimate conversation about their brand. Advise your client on the appropriateness of CGM listening at it relates specifically to their industry vertical, product categoryand market segments. If you client’s brand is not one that generates organic online experiential discussion, be candid about the go/no go decision to engage in further listening.

ARF Deadly Sin #5. Relying on Observations: At a recent ARF Industry Leader Forum, Paul Banas, Kraft Foods’ Insights and Strategy manager, told us that “observations are facts without wings – they don’t take you anywhere.” What good is it to know that brand mentions were 45% positive over the last year? He made the point that insights inspire action, evoke emotion, are unexpected, and lead to leverage-able ideas.

4ScreensCRM: Good insight reveals opportunity for competitive advantage and considers which functional groups are best to own the action plan.  Point to areas that will deliver a quick hit vs. long term impact on the client’s business. Use proof points to reinforce the business case across the enterprise.

ARF Deadly Sin #6. Using The Wrong Measure to Evaluate Listening: We learned that many of the measures used to judge listening are better suited for analyzing social media campaigns. This is a classic instance of using what’s available, such as activity measures (e.g. clicks) exposure metrics (e.g. page views), engagement measures (e.g. time spent) and transaction counts (e.g. conversions).

4ScreensCRM: Develop metrics that are variations on marketing research measures.  Metrics can be cascaded in order to provide a ‘drill down’ and get to the underlying drivers of consumer sentiment (satisfaction, willingness to recommend) and mentions (undaided awareness) of brand attributes, physical or emotional as well as comparisons relative to competition. 

ARF Deadly Sin #7. “It’s Just Another Way To”: Saying listening is “like a focus group,” or “another source of insights,” may be the greatest sin of all because these phrases make it appear as if listening is just another technique with limited application.

4ScreensCRM: Adopt the view that listening is about extending the view of the brand into the broader customer universe and augments the client’s ability put themselves in their customers’ shoes. Authentic online conversation is organic where consumers self-select, actively participate and seek the opinion of like-minded consumers. Listening is a passive process to understanding unstructured and unscripted conversations not possible using ‘active’ survey research.

– TedMorris, 4ScreensCRM