How has social media changed the world? How has it changed the way you do business? Has it changed the way you do business at all? How has Social media and the web changed the way humanity interacts? How many times has Facebook changed and perhaps you’ve had to listen to your partner on their laptop in bed complain about it? Or maybe they were the one listening to you? How many times have you settled down only to find the rules have changed your customers want something different, the want it elsewhere, and they expect it now
We know Social networking is huge, I’m not going to run the numbers past you or show you that video with the hard hitting soundtrack about how fast Google+ grew or that Facebook is the world’s third largest country, or that Pinterest drove more inbound site traffic than all the other social networks.
What I will talk about is the way those people, those billions, are changing the way they do things. The sites that they use are changing with them and enforcing changes on them at the same time. This leads to a sometimes rough road of shifting policies and strategies that can make things difficult for businesses. Unfortunately unless you’re prepared to spend the time and resources to develop and cultivate your own social area, it’s something you’ll have to put up with. Unless you decide to bow out altogether and we’ll get to that later.
One of the changes has been a massive cultural shift in people’s attitudes towards privacy. What people are willing to share, how they want to share it and where they want to share it. They don’t mind sharing pictures of their children online, often publicly, but many are wary of their information being sold to a third party. They may be against their browsing habits being tracked but they like being able to share things easily with one or two clicks. Sometimes these attitudes and wants conflict and sometimes they conveniently forget about each other. One change that is happening is that increasingly people are sectioning off their online life much more effectively and often. The level of understanding of the technology has in many cases matured and its limitations and pitfalls have become more apparent and easier to navigate, whether users choose to do so or not.
Another changing attitude of the social media masses is that they’re increasingly congregating in different places with people that will be able to provide them with the information they want and the content they seek.
For instance, customer ratings and recommendations have become a fundamental way in which consumers decide to purchase, whether they’re completing the transaction online or not – More than ever people are garnering recommendations from their social graph, asking their networks which Laptop they should buy, which dog has the least smelliest breath. Sites like Yelp, Trip Advisor, Amazon, Pricespy and hyperlocal Kiwi’s, Localist are all being used by kiwis and consumers around the world to match their needs with recommended wants. These sites are increasingly relying on their users to drive their value proposition, just like almost every successful business model in the coming years.
Speaking of local, the emergence of smaller scale local networks as popular places, with busy forums and engaged groups are spreading. Closed social networks such as Path haven’t yet taken off but may do so in the future as companies like Instagram and Pinterest have shown that there is value in different social networking concepts. Within Facebook itself the number of closed and secret groups has exploded, with Facebook’s changes to groups which were first announced in October 2010 and rolled out en-masse by May of last year, we now have millions of new age email lists operating in Facebook’s invisible belly. Some have been in the media for cyber bullying and other open groups are even threatening TradeMe’s business model as Facebookers start listing goods for sale on local FB groups and find buyers instantly and both pay no fees.
Other closed and secret social networks see hundreds of mums conversing on baby products and child raising tips, political parties use them for organizing and social groups are walling off their area of Facebook and uploading the photos of their nights out. For businesses, these groups require the approach of tribal marketing as the groups tend to exhibit many of the features of a tribal based community but in an on-line environment. Approach with respect, extend the olive branch of peace, meet the challenge and then engage.
As well as the spread of groups, Pinterest and other sites like Tumblr, Gentlemint, Scoop.It and Paper.li have seen the rise and rise of the aggregator. People don’t want to have to trudge around the internet looking for stuff all the time and the people that filter and sift the content have become integral parts of both the industries business models and the casual web browsers who rely on others to do their searching for them. There is a rule that governs the way this relationship operates and it was first coined as the 1-9-90 rule, but has also been called the 90-9-1 rule or the rule of the 3 C’s;
And that is; 1% Create, 9% Curate and 90% Consume
1% of users create the bulk of the content. 9% curate and organize, filter and discover the content and then pass it along the channel, to the consuming users.
You need your content, your products and your marketing efforts noticed by that top 10%. The creators and the busy worker curators. The creators will photograph it, blog about it, remix it and repackage it whilst the curators will make sure it gets into people’s streams and becomes a retweeted, high edge ranked piece of material for the 90% to consume when they check their news feeds and Pinterest wall. If your content doesn’t find its way to these people and reaches 10% of the straight consumers, it’s going to be the difference between selling out and moving only enough units that you’re worrying about offsetting the costs of the ad campaign.
How do we know who these top people are, the top 10%? The creators, the curators, the aggregators? And how do we know what they’re saying?
I would hope that most businesses are using some form of social search tools, and influence scorers, more on that later when we discuss tools. The creators are easier to spot, they are the high traffic blogs and websites that cover your industry, they are the people who upload all the videos to YouTube, they are the photo takers and program makers. The content aggregators, the curators are at times harder to spot, or at least they were. It was formerly easy to spot the content creator as it was their website you were reading the article from, it was their name under the photo you were looking at. Now things have been turning the other way, the content curators are getting the hits and the shares and it’s actually become an issue which groups at the last South By South West Interactive festival in the US talked about overcoming.
Another thing is that the 1-9-90 rule is starting to change, the paradigm is shifting and the internet has become an easier place to create and curate. There is an abundance of tools now which allow for a highly democratized, low barrier to entry, more participatory internet, but we still have the three segments, even if the ratios are changing and the lines are blurring.
You may have heard this before but you need to treat each of the three segments differently. Creators want wide open spaces, blank pages, and free rein. They want open-ended missions and challenges and occasions to express their creativity, with varying degrees of constraints with which to let them create for you and your campaign, and for themselves.
The curators, whether they be Delicous Digger’s or Stumbling Redditors or just tweeting bookfacers… bloggers, social media enthusiasts, online writers, and marketing experts are powerful net denizens and enjoy recognition and rewards, more followers and likes, and of course high quality content to share with their networks.
Consumers want the product, the best content, the best brands and the best of everything.
Back to our curators, we now have a ‘Social media filtered life’ We see marketing pushes that our friends have liked and we see news stories that 10 people have read and when we’ve finished reading an article, the Huffington Post nicely displays on Facebook that ‘Max has read about the new Victoria’s Secret Fall Collection’ for all my friends and family to see.
People always ask, how can we create viral content, content that these people pick up on? There are two ways and only one really works in the long term, make sure the content is easily sharable and amazing. If it’s good, controversial, hilarious, groundbreaking and different it will be shared, this hasn’t changed and isn’t set to change for a while. The secret is that making sure that those who are sharing it are the great curators, whether that be a high traffic website or a group of key influential social media mavens. The other way is to have teams of people flogging links and pushing it all over the place till it feels like spam, and people still hate spam.
Talking about teams of people, depending on the size of your organization, how many online customer service people do you have? Or Community Managers, Social Media Service people, call them what you will. One or two? What percentage of your customers shop online? If you have 3 staff in a retail outlet which generates 10% of your sales and 1 staff member answering questions and replying to feedback online where you generate 30% of your sales, something is very wrong.
People expect a response, wherever they talk to you, and increasingly, whenever they talk to you. They may tweet you, post to your Facebook or Google+ page, they may comment on one of your ad’s on Youtube, they may be commenting on someone’s Foursquare checkins. They may even be complaining and dragging your brand down, but usually never delete, always engage. You’ve got an opportunity to turn a bad experience into a great one, these mini PR exercises can do wonders and a little goes a long way. A voucher or a bit of extra service will turn these people from vocal opponents to vocal proponents, everyone likes having their problems solved and your staff feel great helping people. Empower them to do so and watch them empower your brand, and more importantly, empower your clients and customers. Use any automation sparingly and only where appropriate, if there is an ongoing issue with a product for instance, you may want to set up an auto responder tool which auto-tweets people and replies to them that the product is being recalled and please email us, just make sure someone is watching the account. Automation can save a lot of time but needs to be used wisely and actively to be effective.
So you have an online community, your customers talk about your brand or your products, what now? You’re engaging with them, but are you listening passively or actively? Customers are now expecting businesses to change to suit their needs, or they’ll go elsewhere, more about that later.
Changing tack for a moment. Once you leave here today and you want to keep your finger on the pulse of what’s going on, a great way if you’re a parent with teenage children, is to ask your kids what they’re using to connect with friends and brands and how they’re using it. Give some feedback to whomever’s handling your digital marketing. If you’re the one shouldering the load, check sites like Mashable, TechCrunch & Social Media Today to keep on top of things and help you to spot emerging trends, once a week is good, daily is better if you have the time. Get the app and read it in the loo.
Discussing emerging trends, a big one is the interest graph – The interest graph is the social graphs emerging workmate and Twitter’s meal ticket. Previously people were connected through their social graph, with friends, family, co-workers etc making up the bulk of their online social interactions. Increasingly more-so, people are connecting through what is known as the interest graph. You may have found that yourself, you’re on Facebook or twitter agreeing with someone, or you find their content interesting.
In short; ‘The interest graph is what people care about, not who people care about’ - And when it comes to people it doesn’t matter if we’re not friends or have never met each other, we share an interest and that connects us.
The interest graph is of interest, because it shows what a consumer will search for, how they will search for it, who they interact with, where they interact, and what they express. The interest graph shows us the relationships between different things, for instance that perhaps all the people who like your jam also like Vogels bread. As we understand more of what our customers like, we understand them and their motivations better and are much better equipped to engage them, online and off.
Three more quick things, Second screening, mobile and location-based social. Second screening will grow and grow, my Mum says to expect triple screening by the end of next year. I’m going to leave the mobile revolution to the speakers tomorrow and touch quickly on location social. There is nothing more immediate than engaging with your customer as they check in via Facebook or Foursquare to your businesses physical space. Whether you’re offering them a deal, a helpful tip like where to find the elevator or a contact number should people get lost in your spacious grounds, location social is slow burning its way from the early adopters into the mainstream, though many people do currently use a service and then drop it shortly after. This may change with frictionless automated check ins and new apps like Glancee and Highlight, or location social adding value to itself through recommendations, reviews and hopefully, more repeat users. Near Field Communication will also play a part and as the larger companies start to experiment with background applications and location sharing, interest graph information, we will see a major change in the way people interact locally.
Social media practices for your business-develop it or drop it?
I’m going to ask you some questions and I want you to think about them and remember your answers in relation to your business;
- Are you integrating social with all your other marketing?
- Is every tweet and FB post and any other outreach from your customers responded to in a timely manner?
- Are you creating content that people want to share?
- Are you avoiding being repetitive?
- Are you avoiding being repetitive?
- Are you giving your customers reasons to want to be involved with your social presences?
- Are you prepared to develop a strategy that targets key influencers?
If you answered yes to all those questions you’re doing very well, and your customers will no doubt love you for it, and the answer to the question develop it or drop it? Is… develop it, keep getting better, going from strength to strength. If you’re not already the leader in Social and Digital Marketing in your industry, then you soon will be.
If you answered no to any or all of these questions, then the answer… is the same, develop it, you’ve just got a lot more work to do, don’t worry, you are not alone!
Developing an effective, organised and strategically driven social media marketing strategy and a complimentary content marketing strategy will save you money. Your online community represents your 24hr focus group. I talked earlier about being a passive or an active listener, more and more companies are responding to their customers online conversations with actions.
For instance; When people complain in forums or on twitter about functions they don’t use on a product, only to find the functions disappear off the new model, they can realize that their input helped guide the product development, not only does it make them much more likely to purchase, it gives them a greater sense of ownership and buy in to your brand. What if everyone on Reddit was crying out for the new model of your product to be released as soon as possible and in blue rather than black? When Team Fortress playing video gamers were shown Team Fortress 2, the sequel to one of game developer Valve’s most popular online games, they found the gaming experience that they had been asking for. Where had they been asking for it? In Valves forums during their interactions with each other and in other forums and posts around the net. Valve spent time aggregating the feedback on their forums and from across the web, and those gamers saw their dreams realized. Team Fortress 2 is now one of the most popular and profitable online shooters on the internet, and its free to play! I know I said the presentation wouldn’t have video games, but I couldn’t resist.
When engaging in Social media, some of the rules of a focus group apply here; Don’t go in wanting people to verify what you’ve already chosen. Do have a great moderator that can nurture and enliven the conversation and steer it back in the right direction if necessary.
It is important to remember that high levels of quality engagement are much more valuable than lots of updates that garner no traction and have low levels of engagement.
Back to the tribal marketing and to paraphrase a great marketing mind of our time, Seth Godin:
‘Challenge what’s there, build a culture, be curious, connect people and commit to the cause’
Contemplating the social business tools of the future: S-Commerce and social dashboards
Current social dashboards and Social tools include:
BuddyMedia/Radian6 (Sales Force), Hootsuite, Seesmic, Yammer, MediaFunnel, Bottlenose, Oracle’s Vitrue, Tweetdeck, SocialBro,MyWeebo, Agorapulse, Brandwatch, Threadsy, Sprout Social& Google Analytics, the list goes on and on and I’m sorry if I missed a few hundred – real-time semantic filtering, natural language processing that’s specifically designed for streams, social search and providing you with all the information you need in a platform you can use. Dashboards are incredibly powerful tools with which to enhance and direct your digital marketing efforts.
Make sure that you’re using these tools, or that whoever is doing your digital media, your community manager etc, is using these tools. And they’re using the wealth of reports that these tools can generate, to give feedback to you. Apply these social insights to sales, strategy and product development.
It is important that you spring for the monthly paid versions. The extra added value these tools can provide is the difference between lubing up or going in dry.
So Social search and Social CRM. Social CRM is often used as a synonym for Social Media Monitoring or social search, where organisations watch services like Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn for mentions of their brand and react accordingly. Social CRM though also includes customer communities managed by the organisation themselves which they have full access to. Your Facebook page, your websites forums etc.
As an emerging discipline, interpretations of Social CRM vary, but the most quoted definition is from Paul Greenberg: “Social CRM is a philosophy and a business strategy, supported by a technology platform, business rules, workflow, processes and social characteristics, designed to engage the customer in a collaborative conversation in order to provide mutually beneficial value in a trusted and transparent business environment. It’s the company’s response to the customer’s ownership of the conversation.”
Talking of ownership, power users, and identifying them – these people can be called your business development partners. Having power users on your side will be a factor which will spell easy success for your future marketing campaigns and will ensure you’ve got frontline people who seem to be everywhere at all times defending your brand where needed and mentioning it wherever its warranted. Many Social Media dashboards now integrate Kloutor PeerIndexscores so you can see at a glance how powerful this persons voice is and how far it reaches and how many heads it turns when it wears a red dress.
According to a study by Facebook and PEW Research, an American Fact Tank’, 5% of Facebooks user base are ‘extreme’ power users who engage in almost every aspect of Facebook from liking, commenting, friend requesting, sharing, update posting, photo tagging and private messaging. Another 20-30% engage in 1-3 of these activities regularly and are classified as power users
What will these tools be able to do in the future? Expect more from the sites themselves. Facebook and Twitter will offer more and more services and insights in house to businesses or acquire other dashboards and tools as they have done in the past, to further their own offerings. Why have people off interfacing with your product through someone else’s.
The tools that will survive and be useful for businesses will be those like Buddy Media that integrate with the services your business is already using. With Sales Force acquiring BuddyMedia, they’ll definitely be ones to watch. Tools that cover the whole spectrum of a businesses social needs are the end game. Earlier this year Oracle purchased cloud based social communications management company Vitrue and then grabbed social media monitoring firm ‘Collective Intellect’. We can expect to see more established tech companies expanding their B2B offerings by acquiring these tools to be able to provide them to their clients. These tools are serious business and serious tech companies know this. Another thing this signals is that big money is moving towards Social in companies budgets.
We can expect to see real-time data and faster processing speeds and more analytics. Knowing what’s happening when it’s happening and being able to respond instantly. Analytics will be driven by better natural language processing which will expose true sentiment and greater understanding of the users and their classifications within your customer framework plus a much deeper understanding of their influence and intention.
We can expect tools that will enable seamless social commerce from wherever your customers reside, that the customers will find native to their social networks and accept as part of their new purchasing routine. With this will come increasing real-time loyalty options and gamification opportunities and advancements as forward thinking businesses grab hold of peoples love of competitions, deals and rewards in this new arena.
So: Things are only going to get more interesting, more interactive and more profitable. High level customer engagement is key, use the best tools for the job. Spend the time, resources and the best expertise now to ensure your company gets it right. Understand the changes and be as prepared as you can be. Thankyou so much for your attention, support and inactivity over the past half hour, was there anything I missed or anything someone wanted clarification of?
“Let us therefore brace ourselves to our duty and so bear ourselves that if the Internet and Social Marketing lasts for thousands of years, men will say: ‘This was their finest hour and they did a bang up job if it.’” That’s a sort-of quote from Winston Churchill
This presentation was originally delivered at the 2012 Social Media and Mobile Apps Forum – 26th June 2012 at the Stamford Plaza, Auckland New Zealand