Archive for the ‘twitter’ Tag

2010: The Perfect Social Marketing Storm

So, if you believe 2010 is the year of the return, forget the “u” shaped recovery, etc. We are talking the “V” shaped RETURN.” The tsunami of pent of demand, the rise of social marketing as a recognized marketing channel, and the competitive pressures to outperform the market to validate your company’s supreme dominance will be firece. No problem, finding budget for marketing will be the least of your problems. Having to justify social marketing doesn’t seem as daunting when you have budget and sales are coming in… “Cool, where do I sign-up?” If not sure about 2010 being the roaring recovery, read further….

We know that social marketing is becoming mainstream. I think in 2o1o it will become table stakes. If you don’t have a facebook page, twitter account, and linkedin profiles; you are so 2009…. In reality, we are seeing major brands begin to increase their budgets for social marketing by a factor of 20% – 30% of budgets. One major CPC brand is dictating that a percentage of product innovation come from ideas from their community. Increasingly, we are not having conversations about “Why should I do it?”, but “How do I use it for competitive advantage?”

We know that most companies have stabilized the bleeding even though they had a mediocre year. Sales are off from their height, profitability is down, budgets are constrained, probably a layoffs/backfill hires not made/new positions not budgeted. Entering into another year of a multi-year recession means most organizations now expect that you will figure out how to do more with less and will not accept “the economy” as justification for underperforming results. The expectation is that you will figure out how to outperform the market.

However,  the real question is not whether the economy will recover with pent up demand in 2010, but what if it doesn’t? What if the recovery is a real dud?  Will the corporate boards be simpathetic to another year of mediocre performance? Will CEOs be calm with back-to-back mediocre years? The average tenure of CEOs. CMOs, and other senior executives is what? Will anyone accept the excuse that it “the economy”? Will the pressure ratchet up even more?

What if the market fundamentally is shifting towards social media and away from advertising and even search engine marketing?,What if I don’t shift our sales, markmarketing and customer management to reflect the market? What if the market slightly improves but we don’t improve with it? What if our competitors find a way to add a lot of new customers and revenue and we don’t?

 The best estimate is that it takes 3 to 6 months to establish a baseline measurement program for social marketing. That means that I need to build a program and execute within the first half of  2010 to give me time to see if it will work. That means 2010 is ALREADY HALF OVER in terms of impact.

We are not talking about setting up a twitter account and adding followers. I am talking about getting legitimate lead generation, customer retention, brand reputation, product development feedback, and team productivity using these tools. Someone tells you that you need a branded twitter account, ask “Why?” If you don’t hear a crisp answer related to a strategic initiative, then you should realize your return is probably equated to the time and cost you invested to set it up… Free Twitter Account Does Not Equal  to a Gazillian Free Leads…

Here are the Major Questions that you need to ask to determine if you need to invest in a social Marketing Strategy…

We can’t hit the marketing performance numbers? Not Necessarily. Your competitors may be slower to adopt than you.

 Can we get predictable and measurable results out of just doing tactical social media participation like having a twitter account and a facebook page? I don’t know, can you? How is it working for you now? Getting the results that you want? Seeing the strategic impact on revenues or customers?

 Can we build a social marketing strategy on our own? Sure, always a factor of core competencies, time, resources, and money. Give anyone enough time and money and resources and they usually build a plan.

Can my team execute a social marketing program effectively? Are they doing it now? We find with a little coaching, a clear plan, and training that organizations are able to drive execution to meet their business objectives.

 Can you tell me if you can tell me the 2010 social media forecast for my market? No, we would have to do a Social Market Audit to get a better idea. We can tell you …

  • If the market is adopting social media
  • How big your company’s footprint
  • How effective is your marketing messaging
  • How well are you doing against your competitors
  • How you can compete over social marketing better
  • Provide you with strategic marketing plan for executing and integrating social marketing

We find that our best partners in this are the folks who are already toe-dipping into social media. They have seen what works and what doesn’t. They recognize a sophisticated program will lead to better, more predictable results.

Self-serving? You betcha…. but also true.

GoDaddy Killed My Email Mailbox: Customer Experience & Social Media Case Study

Reposted from www.socialgastronomy.com

I have used www.godaddy.com for my web hosting for probably close to 5 years or so. I would say that I am a loyal customer as I have half a dozen domains with Social Gastronomy’s website and email hosting being there, as well.

So, if I am UPSET enough to write a blog post to describe the poor customer experience as a case study of what NOT to do, you can understand the magnitude. Comparably, my wife call the president’s office of a our national bank office when they charged us unnecessary fees from the way that they do their deposit accounting practices.

If you are reading this as of thursday morning, I have been without my social gastronomy email for 22 hours. I don’t mean that I can’t access it, I mean that if you email me, you get a bounce back. The rest of the team can get email so feel free to email them, but I can’t get GoDaddy to fix the problem.

It started with our desire to upgrade our email from GoDaddy’s standard POP email account to the hosted exchange service. We were trying to coordinate calendars virtually which was killing our productivity. Ironic…

We signed up for the product and found out that it woudl take 2 hours to port the MX record over from one product to another. Called customer service and they did it manually. Score one for GoDaddy. Very polite person. Score two.

However, I had a problem with how I set up my particular account, you had to use a weird naming convention till you could port the domain record over. Ok, did it. Didn’t work so she suggested that we delete the particular mailbox. Ever have that “I don’t think this sounds right moment”. It got stuck. She did some checking and found out that we had to delete our mailboxes on the old plan before starting the new one. Ok, that was inconvenient, but was quick. She does email me the instructions for getting outlook to work. Good job.

All of them worked, but mine. She tells me that it takes time for some accounts to populate with the new MX record. Now, having been involved with the web for 15 years as a product manager, marketer, etc.; this doesn’t sound right if all but the one account that was different now doesn’t work. Well, then I do some testing and find out that my particular mailbox is now bouncing emails. She tells me to call back in a couple of hours after the record populates. Then sends me a customer service “how did we do” survey.

Ok, so now I have no email, no plan to fix email, and a nagging feeling of panicked “My email is boucing”. So, I call back in to find someone else. Explain the situation. She tells me that if one works then the others work. So the first person was wrong in telling me to delete AND doesn’t understand how they manage MX records.Cool. However, she can’t access my email address and since I am in a car, I have to call back in after my next meeting.

I get home from my meetings and call again. I explain the situation to the 3rd customer service person that I have now talked with about my lack of email. He agrees with me that this is a problem. He then does some checking and confirms that the reason that I can’t re-add my email account is that it is hung up in the deletion process on the server. He needs to open an escalation ticket to get it resolved. Great! We are making progress….

It will take 24 to 72 hours to resolve. In the meantime, “why don’t you create another email address with a variation of your name…” I explain in a panicked voice that I have all of my business cards and contacts who use this email address and need this escalated faster. “Can’t do it, Sir.” He does very politely send me trouble ticket email.

Trouble Ticket

So 15 hours later…. I call back in to find out how I get email back. I get another customer service rep. No help. I ask to escalate to the group as he doesn’t have access to their work queue. Tells me that it is 24-72 hours. I ask for his supervisor, who he grudgingly connects. Now at Customer Service Rep #5. Who proceeds to tell me can’t help, can’t escalate, can’t provide information, can’t see the queue, and since it is in Arizona, no one is in the office to work on it (implied), but he can’t tell me that information for security reasons.

Beyond Being Angry, What do I Know about What is Going on?

1. Unfortunately, this is pretty common for customer experience across many industries and size companies

2. It is fixable. AND they need to fix it as it a real indicator of potential business issues. If I didn’t think it was fixable, this would be a twitter post on why this company SUX and why I am never using them again… etc. I don’t think that they are bad, just that they have mediocre customer service and antequated support systems. There is a better way.

3. When a loyal customer starts to consider moving their accounts because of poor customer support, ineffective systems, and slow response times; you have a problem. It takes 2 hours to move a MX record (switch providers), but it takes 72 hours to fix a problems. You have a problem…..

4. If your call center systems and processes are designed to shield your employees and not allow access to people who can actually address customer problems, you have a bigger problem….

5. This is why customers are taking to social media, blogs, etc. to vent and to CIRCUMVENT your antequated customer service infrastructure. Either I get help from someone who actually knows what they are doing OR I am venting because I get the standard call-center “I understand, but don’t really care” response.

6. This is a major concern for a lot of organizations; Customer Service who gets managed against customer ratings, Sales which loses opportunities, Marketing which loses ability to influence the narrative on the company, and the CEO who gets hammered on the web everytime a pissed off customer vents about their poor service.

How does this relate to Social Media?

1. I am actually using this to see if they are monitoring social media and twitter to see if they will respond to a public complaint as I am stymied within their call center.

2. I found 523 GoDaddy current employees near their corporate headquarters on Linkedin; including their CTO…

Linkedin

  3. 56,400 hits for “I hate godaddy” on Google

4. GoDaddy Sucks has 64 members on Facebook, GoDaddy had 65 members.

5. Do a search on Twitter for GoDaddy, this is what you find…

Twitter

6.The first 2 pages of search on godaddy is standard corporate messaging from GoDaddy. If I were a new customers, I would discount this messaging and look for the real scoop. Hence a search on twitter, facebook, and linkedin. If I was really interested, I would go to the more technical social media platforms for technical discussions, etc.

7. I am annoyed more than angry, but I want my email account fixed AND I want to see that I can get better attention due to my urgency. Going into the blackhole of customer service is not going to be acceptable as consumers become more adept at researching providers on social media sites to understand the real scoop. Providers will have to become more responsive and understand that a pissed off customer doesn’t just tell 10 people anymore, they tell EVERYONE….

8. I am posting this at 10AM, now down almost 24 hours. Let’s see if they are paying attention. I will update when I hear back and what form they communicate.

One last point, this blog post is hosted on GoDaddy…

Matthew Rosenhaft

Principal

Social Gastronomy

mrosenhaft@socialgastronomy.com (when it works)

In the meantime, you can reach me on twitter: www.twitter.com/mmrosenhaft

4:30PM Update: I got a canned email that my problem is fixed. Obviously, GoDaddy is not monitoring social media otherwise they would have responded to my blog post, tweet, linkedin or facebook status updates.

Wish List for Social Marketing Metrics

I get requests to review social media related platforms all the time; functionality, metrics, and integration. Some of these platforms are really good and some of them will die a quiet death. I make it a point to not discuss any specific platforms just because I want to stay strategic in this blog. But, I think there is value in outlining what I am looking for in the way of platform measurement capabilities that will support my social marketing strategy. Here is my wish list of activities that I want to measure and for which I am trying to collect tools; some of which is available and some is still not ready for primetime…

  1. Automatic Chatter Analysis – who, what, where, when, why, and how with comparisons, triggers, analysis, and a dashboard.
  2. Synchronization of My Social Networking Contacts – cross platform and multiple networks with the ability to start with one and find someone on another; i.e. uploading a twitter contact and have the ability to synch with LinkedIn or Facebook or email.
  3. Social CRM – then do that for all of my company’s contacts, dropped into a CRM system which I can then manage multiple contacts, campaigns, and relationships
  4. Online Community Lead Scoring – apply lead scoring to my own hosted community. I want to be able to identify when activities in the community indicated greater interest and send that into my CRM or multi-channel marketing system for follow up.
  5. Multi-Channel Reach Measurement – include social networking channels, twitter, blogs, back links, SEO, & SEM. Not just email and web analytics.
  6. Social Influencer Scoring – compare the various potential lead influencers to compare; blogs, communities, social networks, twitter, forums, sites, etc.
  7. Lead Source Analysis – Need a better way of being able to identify and track indirect sources for leads. I can use the latest web analytic tools to identify pages, but I need a way to elevate that to identify the sources of leads to compare and contract; i.e.  2nd generation re-tweet triggers a wave of people to our website. I want to be able to match the tweet to the twitter user to the lead. This would require some serious integration between social media and web analytics with a healthy dose of marketing legwork.
  8. Strength of Social Marketing Channels – Once you can track, then you can evaluate.
  9. Cost of Lead Acquisition by Social Marketing Channel – This is the Holy Grail; to measure the cost of lead generation by channel. Cross match it to revenue from leads and lead source and you have ROI.
  10. Social Marketing Brand Strength – Measurement of reach, calls to action, and actual action. There are some metrics out there with proprietary formulas, but this is still nascent.

If automatic ROI calculations are still some point off into the future, then what can we measure today and how can we justify our expenditures on Social Marketing? My answer is that it depends on the “how’s”; how big, how complex, how sophisticated, how much is your budget, and how much time? You can track a great deal with the tools currently available which is more sophisticated than much of the traditional brand-oriented mass communications channels that exist today. So, the good news is that we are moving in the right direction, but it is still more art than science. Well, at least until the platform vendors provide the above capabilities.

Corporate Social Media Roadmap

One of my contacts on Twitter posted a reply back that “Social Media is a Fad”. I have been thinking about that for the last couple of days. There is a tremendous amount of momentum around leveraging social media for business. This isn’t the first time that I have heard this in the last several months, but I guess perception is reality.

So, to that end, I have outlined a social media roadmap for those who are trying to “figure out” if the hype will lead to something real. I have been around enough to have seen this conversation a few times; websites, ecommerce, web applications, and now social media. This simple roadmap is targeted to those who want to do something, but are having a hard time presenting a business case, especially in this economy.

Social Media “Crawl”

  • Make sure your team has a complete profile on Linkedin –It would be nice if they were on Plaxo, Facebook, Twitter, etc.; but make sure that the profiles are complete and up-to-date; including past roles. For a lot of potential buyers, awareness of your company comes through an employee’s profile. Make sure they have a good impression.
  • Make sure that everyone has the same basic description– For the company, links to the various pages on the website (including one to careers). Also, make sure there is consistency in the company name (ie. Abbreviations, LLC on the end, Website name, etc)
  • Create a social media policy for employees– There is a fine line between personal and private. Social media can blur that line, especially on Facebook with pictures. Make sure that policy also includes connections to partners, vendors, customers, and other employees. I am not recommending that you curtail their ability to interact with online relationships, but make sure there is protection for the company.

Social Media “Walk”

  • Inventory Corporate Online Relationship Networks – You will be amazed at who your team is connected and no one else knew it. “I needed someone who could do this” or “We need an introduction to X”.
  • Identify who or which companies are missing – a key to successful networking is getting outside your own network. A lot of times it is the 3rd degree relationships that can produce the greatest opportunities.
  • Run a networking program for employees – Sales people and Executives generally know how to network, but the vast majority of employees don’t. But, they represent the vast majority or potential introductions as they had lives and experiences prior to joining the company.
  • Build an Online Relationship Campaign– This isn’t going out and collecting 25,000 random twitter followers, but building online relationships (across multiple social media sites) with the key influencers, bloggers, buyers, vendors, and participants in your industry. If the saying is “Sell where the customer is…” ; you need to start a program of connecting to them online.
  • Start an enterprise blog on your website– designate a team approach to creating an online thought leadership center for your company. Tie your blog updates to your social media participation. I update my Linkedin, Twitter, & Facebook every time I create a new post. It provides content and value for your connections; at the same time, creates a call to action for your website.
  • Cross Pollinate Your Traditional Marketing Database with your Social Media Contacts– I add all of the new contacts that I meet into my Linkedin and other social media accounts. Social CRM is becoming the new “hot” thing as companies are trying to manage the multiple (potential) customer communication channels.
  • Multi-Channel Marketing now Includes Social Media– I have been integrating my social media contacts into an email campaign list that I send my weekly blog digest. I have gotten a tremendous boost to my blog traffic by integrating email, social media, and traditional networking. A multi-channel, integrated approach allows you to reach the potential customer where and how they want to communicate. Especially with our busy schedule and email overload, don’t assume because they did not repsond that they are not interested. They may not have really “seen” the message.
  • Be Respectful– don’t SPAM your social contacts with random messages. Make sure that what you send them provides value to your network. They may not want to buy, but they will respect your attempt at providing value to the relationship and credentialing your thought leadership.

Social Media “Run”

  • Building your own online community into your corporate website – Use social media components to create a more compelling interaction on your website. Also, this provides great search engine optimization, thought leadership, differentiation, lead qualification, customer experience management, etc.
  • Build public, semi-private, and private group areas in your community– Provide value without a login through public groups, but encourage them to sign up (membership) to see a lot more. The private group areas are then used to continue the sales pursuit and provide individualized customer support.
  • Integrate your community with your marketing and sales activities– By integrating your online community, you provide a call-to-action for your outbound sales and marketing efforts. Also, this allows you to leverage your corporate website more effectively during the transition from marketing awareness and interest to sales process and lead management.
  • Integrate your community with Social Networking sites– Google, Facebook, and Linkedin all have member APIs that allow someone to use their membership in third-party communities. This removes one major obstacle for people to participate; the dreaded sign-up.
  • Integrate your community with your Enterprise Systems– Integrating your existing content and data with your online community is important because it allows you to leverage the investment in your existing CRM, ECM, etc. systems more effectively.
  • Leverage Web Analytics and Lead Scoring –An online community provides a trememdous amount of interaction data that can be measured, scored, and utlized for lead qualification.

Social Media “Sprint”

  • Integrate your business processes with your online community – Customizing the interactions of the community for your business processes; customer experience management, sales support, Call-center, project delivery, supply chain, partner management, etc. This means that different audiences interact within the community, but have personalized experiences based upon their roles and goals. I serve up a different forecasting dashboard in the Product Management Group versus the Sales Group.
  • Reimagining your Information Architecture– Some of the leading organizations are rethinking the traditional ideas around organizational Intellectual Property. They are begining to build flexible information architectures whereby the “community” is really the presentation layer for their corporate systems. They build interfaces as “application mashups”. Your access to information and applications is based upon just-in-time rights management. If I am working on a project, I get invited to the project group that has all of the project history, notes, documents, and applications that I need to interact with the project team. This also then is extended outside the organization to partners and customers. The enterprise is no longer a “castle” with a moat and a drawbridge, but a modern city with buildings, doors, locks, security systems, etc. This allows for more effecient business scalability.

At the end of the day, I don’t see social media as a fad. I think the hype factor will dimish along with the effectiveness some of the early adopters have been able to drive, but I see online social interaction as the next logical step in the evolution of the web and business.

Web Marketing: Leveraging First Mover Advantage on the Web

Since I did a MBA research project on First Mover Advantage on the Web in 1996 for a hybrid Micro Economics & Marketing class, I have approached marketing on the web with an eye to the economic impact that the low (near zero) cost for distribution on the web would have on competition.

We have seen it in multiple online vehicles; first it was email, then application distribution, ecommerce, blogs, online communities, and now social media tools like Twitter. My research was about the challenges first movers have in creating sustainable barriers to entry for subsequent market entrants. The ability to create entry barriers for competitors directly impacts their ability to maintain profit levels (reflection, in part, of customer acquisition costs) as subsequent companies enter the market.

We are seeing in the IPhone market with applications. Someone creates a popular application and then there are four similar applications. The challenge is that there is very little in terms of barriers to entry for the competitors. The first mover can get a very limited runway to market themselves with a unique offering before the market is established. The subsequent buyers cannot really differentiate in quality. The only barrier to entry for later entrants is the number of users of an application (popularity) which provides a small advantage for the first mover.

Now, a first mover can take advantage of the web to solidify a lead if they can combine entry barriers with exit barriers. If I can get into the market before others, create a differentiation that is hard to duplicate, and find a way to make it even harder to switch (for cost or niches), then you can build upon the lead.

First mover advantage, even in that situation, is not absolute as there are large numbers of examples where later entrants, with deep pockets and brand equity, were able to catch up to the first mover. The reasoning is pretty simple. you are the market leader with a large percentage of the market, but only sell to 5% of the available market. The competitor buys 80% of the next 10% of the available market that actually buys & they all of a sudden they can catch you and become the market leader.

Here is the lesson for early stage technology companies & the tie back to the title.

  • Because the internet allows you to communicate cost effectively to large number of people, this means you have a relatively low barrier to entry into a market.
  • At this point, a potential buyer will not be able to differentiate the quality of your offering or the credibility of your firm.
  • If you pioneer a market and prove successful, you have validated the market for potential entrants.
  • If those entrants have an existing customer base & available dollars for marketing to the market, you do not have a very sustainable barrier to entry.
  • Hence, you will have to spend more of your dollars as you grow to obtain customers because the market will be more competitive & the economics of scaling communications on the internet. It is exponentially harder to get 1000 people to listen to you versus 100, and exponentially harder to get 100,000 versus 1000. Economies of scale work against you on the internet due to the messaging noise.

Ok, so if you are introducing a new product, how do you protect your advantage?

  1. Word-of-Mouth Marketing = Lower Customer Acquisition Costs – You have to drive an effective referral program over the web. Social media allows you to do that if you can get a core set of evangelists. This is fundamental to lowering your AVERAGE customer acquisition costs. Free referrals balance your costly marketing and sales costs. Don’t count on word-of-mouth marketing, though, very few companies get homeruns. Hope for the homeruns, but be prepared to manufacture runs to stay in the game until you see the right pitch.
  2. Offering Value = Adoption – you have to meet & exceed the customers expectations around the value of the offering with something they cannot get anywhere else easily. That means you cannot satisfy everyone, so target an audience who will appreciate your offering. Make sure you get them to be raving fans. This gives you a core group of evangelists. Provide features and functionality that are must-haves, not nice-to-haves. This will involve a great deal of market research to understand the difference. This means investment in technology, automation of processes, unique approaches, patents, etc. Differentiation is not absolute, but it the starting place….
  3. Pricing & Packaging = Competitve Positioning – Assume that you will have competition and that they will be strong. You need to plan on an aggressive pricing and packaging strategy that creates both barriers to entry for competitors and barriers to exit for your customers.
  4. Partnerships = Distribution – the right “big brother” partner can enable you to leverage their customer base and brand marketing power to lower your average customer acquisition costs. Partnerships are difficult to build and are time consuming to manage. If done right, you will seed the market for the partner, provide them with sufficient channel support, and assume that you will have to do most of the heavy lifting in terms of closing sales until they see success.
  5. Creating Long Term Relationships = Barriers to Exit – This is the tricky one as there is a fine line between providing customer value & building in barriers to exit; ie. contracts, location, ability to export data, feature breadth, etc. Barriers to Exit can be perceived by customers as barriers to entry with a vendor. My belief is that companies should strive to be “easy to do business with” and they should focus less on building artifical barriers to exit, but rather more on the true barrier to exit for a customer which are value-based pricing, planned commoditization, continual innovation & service. At the end of the day, if a company can provide competitive pricing for the basics, unique differentiated functionality, and provides world-class service; why would anyone switch?

My next post on this topic will be for companies who are entering an established market with a new, differentiated offering. How do you leverage the web to displace entrenched, but less capable competitors.