Social CRM: Evolving social media

Social CRM is the use of customer data and insights in a social media environment to create and improve delivery of a service or product or customer experience. But those companies doing it well know it goes well beyond social media: it takes into consideration existing CRM data, search engine data and of course surveyed insights from customers. This makes social CRM a combination of social analytics, traditional customer relationship management and practical application.

The most important feature to note is that social CRM flows both ways. It starts with social media monitoring tools, search engine analytics and web analytics in order to understand how and why to approach customers in a certain fashion; but it continues on in how to make reactive decisions to changing customer behaviours and trends in real time. That’s where the power is drawn from: research and understanding isn’t in phases, it is on-going and fed through not only sales data but also a social context around the user. From a strategy point of view, social CRM a great planning tool to help discover pieces of information and develop new strategies, whether they are sales, creative or digitally orientated.  The possibilities are only limited by your analytics.

So where does social CRM sit in the company organisation? The short answer is that it belongs to research and customer service. The long answer is that all departments play a role (especially if your company does not have dedicated roles for research and customer service). It only takes a couple of internal advocates to make sure three things are sorted out: processes, people and products. Processes are important otherwise things aren’t valued, efficient or optimised. People are important because understanding data is a discipline, which is probably why planners and strategists are strong here, and accounts teams are not (if you’re talking agency side).  And products should be optimised for social — especially when looking at feedback loops and post-sales functionality.

Social CRM  makes social media and digital analytics a relevant function of the business for all — not just the marketing folk or the kids of the CEO.

While it is hard to pinpoint good examples if social CRM, because most of the time it is an internal process, the organisations we have worked with have all taken a few key elements away in terms of best practice:

•  Have clear goals in mind and make sure they relate to the business function implementing them (different functions will have different metrics). Then weight them according to the business

•  Upskill your people: nobody wants data without insights, and nobody wants insights without implications. The data is key to decision-making. It has to be interpreted accurately, so having the right analysts on board is key

•  Work with an equal share of both social media and CRM data and set-up processes to review and interpret regularly

•  Talk about the results: if you don’t, the company won’t understand their value.

Agencies are becoming much more sophisticated. Certainly from a Weber Shandwick point of view, we’ve been recruiting more people from a social analytics point of view. The leaders of our businesses are generally grounded in strategic business strategy, and that hasn’t changed. It’s about introducing new tools, developing new processes and an understanding for multiple business functions. It has already gone well beyond PR.

Originally posted on at Weber Shandwick

Digital V Retail

According to comScore data, online retail sales in the US on Black Friday on November 23 topped US$1 trillion for the first time ever as an increasing number of consumers used the internet to do their early holiday shopping. Similarly, during China’s Single’s Day, celebrated earlier in the month on November 11, sales volume at Tmall.com, the country’s biggest online store, reached a record high of US$800 million in just eight hours of trading.

On the surface this would tell us that traditional retail is under serious threat as more and more shoppers opt for the convenience of online buying. But a closer look suggests that the battle between traditional and online retailers is altogether more complex.

Undoubtedly, the role of retail stores is changing, although this can depend on both the product and purchasing considerations. Convenience is still a huge factor in purchasing decisions. Just look at a market such as Hong Kong where ordering your shopping online is no more convenient than popping into the seemingly endless supply of shopping malls and street-level retailers. Likewise, for high-value purchases – a motorcycle or a guitar for example – traditional retailers are still crucial: it is about having an experience and perhaps weighing options later, even if the final decision is made online through an eCommerce platform. If anything, it is probably the purchases that are medium-value and non-urgent that will add redundancies for to retail stores.

What is changing, though, is that the purchasing focus will be on not only buying into the products, but also the ideas behind the brand. It might be about immersing yourself in adidas and their world in-store before making a decision to buy. In these situations, the people who staff these stores will still play an important role: think about buying a dSLR, or better yet, a new running shoe – you want the best advice in addition to the online reviews.

One direct consequence of this is that brands will need to work harder at providing a retail space that is engaging enough to encourage consumers to forgoe their online sites. And it is not only the likes of Apple that are doing this. Look at Citi, which has created some very different experiences for its stores around the region. They don’t even really look like banks, and generally end up where banks aren’t.

Bricks and mortar retailers are not going anywhere yet. Indeed the more savvy brands are investing heavily in both the online and offline experience and realise that a combination of the two will be a strong business driver. A number of luxury brands — a sector that was at one point highly resitant to online properties — are showing how important it is to be able to blend experience with convenience. Cartier and Burberry are good examples. The consideration and purchase decision making process has changed dramatically. The purchase elements like trust, convenience and reputation are the same, but the way we get there has changed. Now, more than ever, it is about knowing your product and your audience.

Originally posted at Weber Shandwick.

A few words on depression

Not mine, but Tim Carmody’s on the suicide and death of Aaron Swartz.

I was supposed to see Aaron the day before he hanged himself. Andy Baio had invited both of us to a small meetup at a bar on New York’s Lower East Side, and I was excited to catch up with Andy and other friends and to meet some new people. As it turned out, Aaron made it to the party and I didn’t; a late-breaking story kept me in for the night. Nobody thought that we wouldn’t have another chance to meet. Andy wrote that Aaron “was deep in conversation, smiling and chatting. I thought he looked happy. I was wrong.”

After major depressive disorder threatened my life in my twenties, I knew how easy it can be to cover your exhaustion and anger to those around you. All you need is to keep people at arm’s length, keep them from wanting to look too closely, and hide in plain sight, like filling a hole in a cracked plaster wall with toothpaste. I knew how depression, at a chemical level, robs you of the rewards of being happy; how it turns the people around you into two-dimensional cutouts exactly when you need them most; how the disease makes you believe your good days don’t really matter and your bad days are the way the world really is.

Seems to be a fitting theme for what I’ve been discussing recently.

Mark Pollard: Stories about Manhood

Mark Pollard at TEDxHackensack

One of the most raw, emotional and powerful things I’ve watched.  So proud of you dude. Big love, Mark.

Seems like a life time ago when we collaborated on A Perfect Gift For A Man stemming from sharing stories about the things that shaped out lives through Reach Out.

Thoughts from an A330 (my last wi-fi free zone)

Hong Kong and the journey so far

I’m currently sitting on roughly my 19th plane and 10th trip in four months since moving to Hong Kong following the move into the regional position for Weber Shandwick. What a journey.

I still enjoy the middle of plane flights because you can have your toys on, but no one can contact you.  While I hear this is all set to change if they bring WiFi on board, hopefully I’ll have the sense to opt out.  And any colleagues, friends and clients might excuse my absence.

Absence, and a sense of impermanence – though, not a wholly accepting state of  contentment, I’m sorry to say my spiritual friends – is certainly how it has felt.  It’s not a static feeling, nor is it a negative one.  It’s a changing dynamic where by I’m always away from a loved one, an office or a friend.

I’ve never been wholly comfortable travelling on my own – something about being locked inside my head when I’m experiencing things has always niggled at me – but this has certainly shown me how to progress. And it’s something I’ve always wanted to be more okay with.

It’s been an amazing journey.  From Hong Kong, Singapore, Australia, Philippines (okay maybe that was non-work, leisure I think they call it), and China: all have been incredible places.  Indonesia is next on the itinerary.

It’s perhaps even more amazing to think this thing we call digital connected it all. PowerPoint, Excel, Words documents and countless emails allows me venture around, waving my arms in the air, answering questions about social, mobile and how long a video should be.

I’m certainly passionate about I do, and I hope I can do something even more meaningful in the future.  I’ve had a couple of small instances to do some real good. But it’s not quite enough.

But for now, I feel privileged. I’m happy. Sure, not every hour or every day. But I’m happy. And I think that’s important.  And perhaps what is more important is that I get to share all this with my partner (and she’s happy, which is always better for me) and some great friends – some new, some old.

I don’t know what it all means, but even if I did? So, what? Would I do more of it? Less of it? It doesn’t matter right now. I, you, we; we just are.  Some seconds seem like forever, some hours seem like they never happened. Enjoy them all.

Doom: Agency-land and the holy grail of digital integration

We’ve all been there. Back against the wall, holding your sawn-off shotgun, waiting for the next agency to walk through the door.  It’s like a game of Doom in death match mode where it’s every agency for them selves.

It’s time to enter the boss level. Digital is waiting for you.  There can only be one winner.  You quickly punch in I-D-F-K-A.  You’re armed. Let’s go.

Every agency is fighting for a piece of “digital” these days. It doesn’t leave us in a good place.  We’re fighting over digital strategy, social media strategy, content production, communications planning, analytics, CRM, mobile strategy, mobile apps, training, workshops, consultation, end-to-end delivery, who’s logo goes first on the power point. How did we end up here? Who’s going to win? We’ve all got the same cheat codes.

As Catherine Hornby (head of digital strategy at McCann) points out, it’s the legacy of agencies, not clients.  We’re all playing Doom while they’re playing ThemePark.

All clients, agencies and your sanity wants is an integrated approach.  But collaboration is hard. And that’s okay.  Breathe.  Yep, I said it, collaboration is hard; you compromise, your ego suffers, but hey – we’re not saving lives, so relax a little.

Integration, collaboration and working together. Sounds wonderful on a powerpoint presentation, sounds like your suddenly playing Viva Pinata. Hard in real life, but here’s a great point of view on how it can work (better):

Be nice to each other.

Social media: sorting through the white noise

Picture of Matt Chisholm

Continuing on the A Digital Perspective tradition.

In a well timed follow up to Dark Social, Social Media Marketer and all-round nice guy Matt Chisholm talks us through how he wades through the white noise of the social media echo chamber.  If you’ve ever wanted a solid stream of good thinking, Matt can talk you through anything from social, to DJing to the latest trends in t-shirt design and photography.

Planners and strategists need to have their finger on so many pulses. Here’s a quick-start guide to agency land, real-time, desktop research .

With the huge influx of information available to marketers and comms people: talk us through how you define what’s valuable for your clients for strategic and creative decisions? 

First of all you need to know what information is out there. There is a huge influx, but as marketers it is up to us to wade through all this information to keep up to date with the latest trends and changes in the industry. I do a lot of reading. My RSS reader has some 50+ blogs I subscribe to. Getting through all the posts on these without falling behind is a massive task, but also one I think anyone who wants to be a successful digital marketer needs to undertake. There is a wealth of useful (and useless) information published about digital, it is up to us to find it, learn from it and advise our clients on how it affects them and what actions we need to take. I also keep in contact with others with their fingers on the pulse and learn of new things from them – learning in an agency should be collaborative.

Finding a way to work through all the information can be quite hard. As I mentioned I read a lot of blogs, but I also keep an eye on Twitter and LinkedIn for interesting articles and reports recommended by peers on these networks. Social networking isn’t just for keeping up with what your friends are doing. Find other great content curators online, follow them and let them help you to wade through the immense amount of information being thrown at us. I Tweet (@chizm123) a lot of the articles I find interesting, which is only a small percentage of what I actually read on a daily basis. Using what articles get ReTweeted is often a great way to see what others think is important and sometimes makes me take a second look in case they’ve seen something I haven’t.

The key to defining what is valuable for my clients as well as the agency I work for, is understanding the brand, where they are on their journey, and what communications and activities are taking place currently and what is coming up. I ensure I chase up the latest news from my clients regularly on their business so I can better advise them on what they should be doing strategically and creatively.

Being a social media marketer primarily (I’ve dabbled in SEO and broader digital as well) I keep an eye on the latest trends, memes, emerging social networks, new engagement tactics by competitors, and campaigns being run by other brands both in Australia and internationally. Using this information along with what has been provided by the client, we can marry the two and create an engaging strategy for the brand which is continually optimised in its implementation.

Educating clients on the latest developments which are relevant to them is another key thing for me. It is important to share with them any changes and the impact they have had on others so we can work together on a solution for them. Sending them the latest cool campaigns and technological developments along with any possible implications for them is also important here so they can understand the market we’re working in better as they have other things to worry about. Communicating this information with them is great as it can help better determine what is valuable to them as we discuss these learnings and they give their thoughts and feedback. It also helps them get excited about what we’re doing which is awesome.

Essentially, I think as digital marketers we need to be content curators for our clients, but take that extra step to apply our learnings to their business and help them to progress forward in this ever-changing digital world.

Dark Social: Analytics, referrers and why the social web is old news

For anyone who grew up with the web in the 90s, remembered ICQ and the user forums, and who doesn’t buy the must-know bullshit peddled by the ‘engagement patrol’, this is a must read (thanks Gavin):

Here’s a pocket history of the web, according to many people. In the early days, the web was just pages of information linked to each other. Then along came web crawlers that helped you find what you wanted among all that information. Some time around 2003 or maybe 2004, the social web really kicked into gear, and thereafter the web’s users began to connect with each other more and more often. Hence Web 2.0, Wikipedia, MySpace, Facebook, Twitter, etc. I’m not strawmanning here. This is the dominant history of the web as seen, for example, in this Wikipedia entry on the ‘Social Web.’

But it’s never felt quite right to me. For one, I spent most of the 90s as a teenager in rural Washington and my web was highly, highly social. We had instant messenger and chat rooms and ICQ and USENET forums and email. My whole Internet life involved sharing links with local and Internet friends. How was I supposed to believe that somehow Friendster and Facebook created a social web out of what was previously a lonely journey in cyberspace when I knew that this has not been my experience? True, my web social life used tools that ran parallel to, not on, the web, but it existed nonetheless.
To be honest, this was a very difficult thing to measure. One dirty secret of web analytics is that the information we get is limited. If you want to see how someone came to your site, it’s usually pretty easy. When you follow a link from Facebook to The Atlantic, a little piece of metadata hitches a ride that tells our servers, “Yo, I’m here from Facebook.com.” We can then aggregate those numbers and say, “Whoa, a million people came here from Facebook last month,” or whatever.
There are circumstances, however, when there is no referrer data. You show up at our doorstep and we have no idea how you got here. The main situations in which this happens are email programs, instant messages, some mobile applications*, and whenever someone is moving from a secure site (“https://mail.google.com/blahblahblah”) to a non-secure site (http://www.theatlantic.com).

Luxury, fashion, beauty & digital

A Digital Perspective – Taryn Williams, WINK

This month I’m talking to Taryn Williams, Managing Director of WINK. Between asking for my first modeling shoot, I’m consistently impressed with WINK and their narrative on the beauty and fashion world around us.

A beautiful website, a great story.  Our relationship is purely digital.

How has digital and social technologies changed the model, fashion and beauty industry? Tell us about your own journey, and how it’s been shaped through these elements. 

When I started modeling social media was all my friends and I all trying to read latest edition Vogue at the same time! It’s amazing to reflect on how things have changed so much in so little time.

We have all heard the stories of a young models being “discovered” at a local mall by an agent. But these are one in a million and often more urban myth than real. In the past if you were not with an agency you really had no way of getting your name out there. In the digital age aspiring models have access to audiences that they simply did not in the past. Whether that audience is an agency staffer, media publications, corporate executives or the public at large, access to an audience that can “discover” you is irrefutably much, much broader. That is the opportunity for the model.

From an agency side I would make a couple of observations.

Firstly the power that was previously been wielded by large established agencies has been eroded. The lower costs of establishing an agency, in so many ways facilitated by digital technologies, has seen an increase in the number of smaller start-up and challenger agencies. And being challenger businesses these new companies are often happy to lower their margins, be unconcerned with exclusivity contracts or simply increase the supply of models into a market of relatively flat (arguably diminishing) demand. This is good news for companies that are procuring models but bad news for the status quo agencies. The established players have a decision to make, embrace changing markets and adapt or face the kind of annihilation that the music industry has experienced since the widespread adoption of digital technologies.

On a personal level WINK has been able to challenge established agencies for reasons such as these. At the most simplistic level we are able to supply a high quality product being great service and talent, quickly and efficiently at a lower cost. Add to this the experience and sophistication that WINK staff have from years in the business, then for a buyer of our services it’s a pretty compelling argument.

The other point that I would note is that like the individual model, our business – through the adaption of digital platforms and predominantly social media – has the ability to market ourselves very quickly and for almost no cost. Show me a person who doesn’t like to look at models shot beautifully and I’ll show you a liar!

Digital and social technologies quite simply have allowed new businesses such as WINK to compete with the big boys (and gals!). We are super excited about the future not defending the past.

Sick of hearing about authenticity

Authenticity has got to be one of the words I’m sick of hearing, but here’s my take on it.

When we’re talking someone through how to “be authentic”  I don’t mean in it in the bullshit buzzword term of a way about ‘being real’ – I simply mean  be ‘true to brand’.  It’s not about being nice to everyone!  But it is about knowing the voice of the brand: which is why it’s as dangerous to leave editorial in the hands of the CEO as it is to the intern.

If you’re a prestige brand, then be prestigious  If you’re not. Then stop pretending to be!  This is where marketers fall apart: there is no discipline with tone & style in social media editorial.  Let’s look at true prestige or luxury: Lamborghini don’t bother adding “LOL” to the end of their marketing materials, or their Facebook page. They know to be consistent.

Designers know how to use this discipline to be creative, do the same.

If you really are a fun, light-hearted brand, then that’s fine too. Just don’t turn into some corporate Terminator the second someone makes a slightly negative comments on your Facebook wall.

None of this is hard.