Bridging the Social Chasm

Customer Experience Chasm

When IBM’s Center for Business Value released its 2011 report into the relationship between social media, marketing and brands, it revealed a “perception gap”. On the one hand, marketers had an understanding that their connected consumers “wanted” or even “expected” a certain style of interaction through social media. And on the other hand, there was the hard reality of what those customers actually wanted. The gap between the two was the distance between two competing realities.

But is anyone listening?

In reality, we are not really dealing with a gap. It could be better described as a “mismatch” – after all, a “gap” would indicate some alignment. But the problem for brands is that the distance between the two sets of expectations is growing. We are now dealing with a widening chasm in the world of customer experience.

CustomerExperienceGap

Two years after IBM’s original report, even a casual investigation of most branded social media would indicate that the chasm is becoming more pronounced as brands continue to shift their marketing spend and resources into digital and social media (Gartner’s US Digital Marketing Spending Report indicates that 25% of the marketing budget is now devoted to digital).

But when it comes to business effectiveness, more budget is not necessarily always the answer (though there would be few marketers who would refuse an increase, I am sure). To bridge the social chasm, business must begin to re-think, re-action and re-calibrate their organisational approach to social:

  • Re-think: Start with what you know. Create a new social baseline and audit all your activity for assessment. Real time analytics and dashboards such as those from Anametrix can provide the kinds of decision-ready data that is essential to informed decision-making
  • Re-calibrate: If you have started a social business program in the last two years, it’s now worthwhile assessing its impact. Have you achieved the original milestones? Has the program had the kind of impact that you expected? Take a look at R “Ray” Wang’s 50 use cases that help demystify social business and think through the business processes and workflows that are business critical. Are your social programs impacting business results? If not, it may be time to recalibrate.
  • Re-action: This is no time for social business fatigue. No one ever said that change was easy. And equally, no business achieved competitive advantage by being complacent. It’s time to re-action the business programs that are core to your strategy.

What’s your experience?

Interestingly, this recent workplace research study by Microsoft revealed that there is also a chasm between business management and the workforce. Teams not only expect or demand more collaboration – about 17% of people are actively ignoring IT policy and installing social tools independently. This is delivering some value to the business – with 60 percent of participants in the Microsoft study indicating that their use of social tools has increased productivity – but this would be a far cry from the billions of locked-in value that McKinsey Global Institute’s 2012 study revealed.

If businesses can’t work to unlock the value in the low hanging opportunities within their own business, how long will customers have to wait?

It seems like there are whole industries on the brink of disruption. Social may not be the driving force, but it could be the trigger.

Microsoft Social Tools in the Workplace Research Study by Mark Fidelman

Twitter + TV Goes Beyond the 30 Second Spot

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Many companies spend a great deal of time, money and effort getting people to do something. Like switching brands. Trying a new product. Or watching a TV show. And to do this, they use advertising. TV has been the great transformer of the 20th Century – it has educated us, engaged us and even amazed us. And the thing it transformed was not the world, but our behaviour. But it has always been a one-way street – broadcasting its message from a single point to the masses.

And then along came the internet and provided a whole new way to be educated, engaged and amazed.

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We have always known that there was an abundance of awe inspiring activity taking place in the world but it was often hard to find. Realising that fear, uncertainty and doubt (FUD) tapped our primal urge to fight or fly, in the war for ratings, broadcast media prioritised the sensational over the substantive. But in a multi-dimensional communications world, where the means of production (ie creating content) and distribution are readily and widely available, new forms and types of content are emerging – and with them, new behaviours.

Anyone interested in human behaviour knows how difficult it can be to change a personal habit. But trying to change habits within a culture add layers of complexity that can boggle the mind.

Which is why this latest move from Twitter has me intrigued.

Much of the innovation that we have seen emerge from Twitter has been invented and driven by its community of users. It’s one of the benefits of having a large and active, participating user base – ideas, trends and opportunities magically appear out of the interactions of the crowd. But the businesses behind social networks have an advantage over other types of businesses – they can observe real time and emergent behaviour and adjust accordingly.

When people started using Twitter and hashtags to collaboratively consume television programs it marked a new line in the sand for a struggling TV industry. The dominance of the single screen was well and truly over – and the rise of the connected, multi-screen experience was underway. Now, we can all collectively watch TV shows like #QandA, contribute to the fast flowing conversation online and compete to see our names flash upon the screen. Twitter, in many respects, has given us a reason to tune in at a set time on a set day. Despite our timeshifted life, it’s made TV relevant again.

And this new Twitter + TV offering is taking this a step further. Take a look.

What I like:

  • It taps into existing behaviours: we are already using Twitter to collaboratively consume content on TV. It’s a no brainer that this could be monetised or extended
  • Creative opportunities for extending the customer experience: smart brands (and I would include TV broadcasters in this) have the potential to radically transform the relationship they have with “viewers”
  • Encouraging participation: for all the energy and noise, we are still in the infancy of social media adoption. It’s one thing to have a billion users across the world, but getting that billion people to do something other than login and post once a month is the next great challenge

Some of the problems I can see arising:

  • Broadcasting more broadly: when you are a hammer, everything looks like a nail, right. Twitter has never (and I repeat NEVER) understood its role as a community platform. The fact that it facilitates amazing conversations doesn’t mean that it is a “conversation company” as we have seen with various ham-fisted changes to functionality, and its short-sighted limiting of its own ecosystem etc. There is the potential for this new offering to generate more noise and simply broadcast more broadly. This would be a great missed opportunity
  • Most brands lack comprehensive multi-channel strategy: while we see some substantial and innovative approaches to multi-channel strategy and execution, most brands (and their agencies) lack the level of strategic understanding required to make this work. We can’t all be Red Bull – but we could be more successful if we invested in these channels and strategies
  • Digital skills are thin on the ground: a key to making this work will be deep digital skills and a collaborative approach to storytelling. Brands need to up their investment in digital skilling not just in marketing but across the enterprise. When social becomes the #1 channel for engagement across your business ecosystem (ie not just sales and marketing), then you’ll have the kind of competitive advantage you’ve been dreaming of.

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Creative Commons License RubyGoes via Compfight

SuccessConnect – Where Talent and Social Collide at the SuccessFactors Conference

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Free Your Instagram Photos with FreeThePhotos

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Remember when Flickr was cool? It has the no-brainer business model of $25 per year, in-built community functions like sets, groups and connections, and it helped manage copyright through various licensing arrangements. And the open API meant we could do cool things like

But then it lost its way.

Yahoo! stopped telling us about what they were doing and why. The diehards continued to post their images to Flickr but many others, attracted by easy-to-use apps, newly emerging and vibrant communities and a hipster ethic switched to Instagram, or Path or even to Twitter to share their photos.

When National Geographic suspended their Instagram account, it got serious

Over the lasts couple of days, I have written a couple of pieces analysing Instagram’s change of terms. It would be naive to think that Instagram did not expect a backlash of some sort, but by dumping the early adopters, they are opening the door to a more mainstream audience. The backlash then becomes a form of earned media, creating a social media news story that jumps into mainstream news consciousness.

National Geographic suspends Instagram account Of course, the beatup around photo ownership is actually not about intellectual property – but about the influence we each hold within our social networks. Social judgement’s a vital and highly prized element in a digital campaign, and the change in terms from Instagram opens the door to a level of granular automation that perfectly compliments the shift to real time bidding and automated digital ad targeting via systems like Facebook Exchange.

But when big brands who have made a significant investment in building communities within Instagram take a stand, it’s time for the rest of us to take note. National Geographic’s single image announcement boldly features on their Instagram page – making it clear that the terms of use scheduled to take effect in January were not to their liking.

Next step – migration – Google+ or Flickr?

Now at this time of year, we can expect people to be taking MORE not less photos. And we will be wanting to SHARE them with our friends, families and random social network connections more than ever! So what is one to do? The obvious suggestion is to migrate photos to another service, close your Instagram account and find a new network for your photos.

Google+ has been recommended by some, with its Picasa-based system. But Google has yet to crack the non-tech feel to most of its systems and this is a major barrier to entry for the average non-tech Geek. My choice would be Flickr – and as I have a long standing account, it’s really a non-contest.

Free your photos

If you want to follow me over to Flickr, you can do so using this great new site – free your photos. It takes the pain out of the download and upload process.

  1. Visit freethephotos.com
  2. Visit Instagram.com and login
  3. Visit Flickr.com and login (these steps make it easier)
  4. Login and authorise your Instagram account
  5. Login and authorise your Flickr account
  6. Click the Free Your Photos button

freeThePhotos2It takes a while, but you can set the site to email you when the process is complete. Then it’s just a matter of using the bulk management tools on Flickr to sort through and arrange the images.

But is there a replacement for my Instagram app?

And of course, if you are looking for an alternative iPhone app to Instagram – one with filters and auto uploading etc, Flickr have just released one for iPhone and one for Android. There are also dozens of community sourced Flickr apps for Android available here.

Marissa Mayer will be loving Instagram’s early Christmas bonus

Judging by the number of new connection requests coming through from Flickr, it would appear that there is some shift already taking place amongst my network. Our natural inclination is to establish trusted connections within a new network early. So not only does Flickr benefit from new members, those members are bringing their community strength with them.

Instagram may have unwittingly delivered an early Christmas present to Marissa Mayer at Yahoo! But let’s see what the new year brings.

HT @JohnHaydon

Instagram Don’t Want Your Pictures, They Want Your Influence

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Over the last 24 hours, the changes to the Instagram social network’s terms of use have rippled across the web. Many took to Twitter to voice their displeasure, while others determined it was a non event. In many respects, it was only a matter of time before Facebook began to expect a return on their $1 billion investment in the nine person strong social network startup.

Instagram responds

As I suggested yesterday, Instagram will measure community response to the changes and are likely to return with a watered down version of their terms of use. In a blog post from co-founder, Kevin Systrom, Instagram have moved to clarify the plain English ambiguity that comes with legalese.

Our intention in updating the terms was to communicate that we’d like to experiment with innovative advertising that feels appropriate on Instagram. Instead it was interpreted by many that we were going to sell your photos to others without any compensation. This is not true and it is our mistake that this language is confusing. To be clear: it is not our intention to sell your photos. We are working on updated language in the terms to make sure this is clear.

The post also moves to clarify ownership rights and privacy settings – though it is worth pointing out that the privacy features in Instagram are not yet as granular as those offered by Facebook.

Big data is the hidden gold

The world of advertising has shifted substantially in the last 2-3 years. Those immersed in the world of digital will have a more nuanced understanding of “innovative advertising that feels appropriate on Instagram” than the general public. It’s not simply a case of a social network selling your photo for use in an advertising campaign. It’s about using the META DATA associated with your photo to CONTEXTUALISE digital advertising within YOUR social network.

So, imagine that you ride a Ducati motorbike (as I used to). If I took a photo of myself on a Ducati motorbike at the local dealership and tagged it accordingly, that photo may appear in a Facebook ad (or an ad served via the Facebook Exchange elsewhere on the web). But most importantly, because we know consumers trust friends more than we trust brands, we are more likely to respond to advertising with an implied (or real) endorsement. So when my Ducati ad appears with a well crafted call to action, and you click through to an offer from your local motorcycle dealer, Instagram will have done its job – delivering a highly targeted contextual advertisement to a highly targeted, socially-influenced audience.

AnatomyOfInstagram

This can occur because each time you take a photo with Instagram, you upload not only the photo itself, but you connect that photo with other identities and data, like:

  • The caption of the photo and a list of hashtags in the caption
  • Location of the photo – latitude and longitude, and sometimes a location name
  • List of comments on the photo, each with the text of the comment and details about the comment’s author
  • Date and time the photo was created
  • Link to view the photo on the web in different sizes – thumbnail, low resolution and standard sizes
  • Count of likes, with details of each user who liked the photo
  • Details of the user who posted the photo – their username, website, bio, profile picture and full name

You’re not the product, your friends are

We often say that when you use a social network and the price of entry is free, that YOU are the product. But that is only half the story. You are not the only product – your friends and social connections are too.

And in a world that is inundated with messages and messaging, cut through comes via trusted sources. That’s why Instagram (or Facebook) don’t want your images, they want your influence, reputation and social connections.

Dell Launches Social Business Services

Dell Social Media Services

Much lauded for its own social business transformation, Dell is now taking its social media expertise to market, launching a new range of offerings through a collaboration between its marketing and services teams.

Targeting enterprise and medium sized business customers, the first offerings provide:

  • Education – best practice seminars for a range of industries
  • Advisory – strategy and optimisation
  • Listening and insights – social media monitoring and reporting
  • Listening Command Center – on-premise build out of a social media listening command center

Dell Social Media Services

Responding to the chaotic social media space, Maribel Sierra, Director Social Media Services at Dell explained that Dell’s customers are struggling to go beyond Facebook and Twitter. Customers are asking for Dell’s expertise in choosing tools, building training and scaling social media within the enterprise.

But it is not all about social media maturity. Customers are also wanting to understand how and where to get started with enterprise social media and how to gain executive support for social programs.

Pilot customers like Kraft Foods, Clemson University and Aetna have helped prove out the Dell model over the last year – and the range of services are expected to grow with demand. Right now, there are over 20 courses available through the Dell Social Media University – and they’re delivered either face to face or virtually.

These new offerings mark a decisive shift for Dell, providing a strategic services offering at the pointy end of customer experience for their customers. Working in this trusted space will keep Dell top of mind across their customers executive ranks. This will bring Dell into direct competition with organisations like IBM, Salesforce and the big consulting firms.

As 2013 begins to take shape, the future of social media innovation looks set to play out within the enterprise. On the customer side, expect more services firms to flood in as enterprises begin to transform social engagement into business value.

From Big Data Science to Big Data Action

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From the dawn of civilisation through to the year 2003, Google calculates that humans have produced 5 exabytes of data. That’s a lot of stone tablets. But with the explosion of mobile devices, 3G and 4G networks and social networks, we now produce 5 exabytes of data every two days. That means that every photo you upload to Flickr or Facebook, every video you share with friends on YouTube or Vimeo and every one of the billions of tweets broadcast on Twitter is contributing to the avalanche of data.

But add to this the fact that each of these items comes with contextual data. At the same time that you update your profile or publish a photo, you may also be sharing your geolocation, your likes and preferences, your upstream and downstream behaviours, and your attitude to topics (based on sentiment). You may also be sharing your trust network of on and offline friends.

And this is just the tip of the big data iceberg.

The rise of big data is a blessing and a curse for CMOs

While analytics have been available to businesses for decades, but it has largely been the domain of business analysts and researchers. The rise of big data now places analytics firmly in the marketers court. Earlier in the year, a CMO Council and SAS report indicated that only 26% of marketers leverage customer data and analytics to improve decisions, targeting and personalisation.

The blessing of big data is that it is readily available to most organisations in the form of structured business data and the publicly available unstructured data coming from social networks. The curse is that in-house skills and experience with big data is scarce – with a number of marketers now looking to bolster their teams with big data scientists and data analysts.

Marketers don’t need data they need action

It’s not data scientists that marketers need, however. Already we are seeing software vendors emerging who are able to tap structured and unstructured data sources to produce business-ready dashboards. Mapped to best practice business processes, these dashboards and analytic tools promise to release marketers from the fear-inducing data tsunami that looms on the horizon.

Platform players such as Anametrix, for example, transform the science of data into actionable business knowledge for key business processes. This means you can spend less time and resources understanding the data and its various relationships, and focus instead on making decisions that impact the top and bottom lines of your business.

A great example of what can be achieved is the BrandWatch US Electoral Compass. Drawing on Twitter data and press discussion generated since July 2012, the compass matches structured information (location, policies and dates) with unstructured information (tweets, sentiment etc) to reveal the topics that are important to American voters. Now, this is not data from focus groups – it’s stated intention as revealed via status updates, commentary and attitude.

And as business analytics packages get better at mapping business flows, these reporting systems will become ever more granular. They promise to revolutionise the way that businesses engage with their customers – and that will bring another set of challenges for CMOs. The question is – are you ready for this new form of customer engagement?

BrandWatch-USelection

Australian Marketers Rock Up to the Marketo Rockstar Tour

If marketing technology vendors had doubted Australian marketers’ hunger for innovation, then the recent turnout to the Marketo Rockstar Tour laid those doubts to rest.

Stretching out of the main bar at Sydney’s Establishment Hotel and down George Street, a queue of 300 or so patiently made their way to the upstairs ballroom to learn about Marketo’s software as a service based marketing automation platform. Punctuated with case studies, driving rock music, audience questions and a keynote from founder Phil Fernandez, it was a glitzy launch with plenty of substance. Follow along with the tweetstream below.

You Had Me at Hello–20 Tips for Social Media Engagement

“I don’t have time for that”.

How many times have you heard those lines? It is often the first reaction to a new technology. It is the cold fish, slap-in-the-face of the overwhelmed. The desperate cry of the overworked.

Many times we let technology get in the way. It can confuse us or stop us from trying something new. Its first appearance looks like more work, more effort, more stress. More of everything that is bad.

But when we look back at improvements in productivity, technology is, without a doubt, the driving force. It has made our lives better – reducing boring, repetitive tasks, improving the speed of our decision making and delivering lightning fast, global communications  to our desktops, fingertips and pockets. And yet, for many of us, new technology stops us in our tracks. After all, we are not all “early adopters” eager to try, use and show something new.

Often when we say “I don’t have time for that”, really we are saying, “I’m tired of this relentless change. I’m comfortable with the way I work. I’m good at it and I am busy doing what I am already doing.” In the end it appears to be change for technology’s sake.

But if the world of social media has taught us anything, it is that technology can also be transformative – it can change the way we do things. And it can change the way we think about things. It can change our attitudes.

But where do you start? This great 20 tip playbook from Salesforce Radian6 brings a decisively human element to the technology conversation (and I am not just saying this because I am mentioned in it). And while the focus is social media – this same approach can be equally applied to any communication challenge that you face. After all, it’s not about the technology – it’s about the people. Start by saying hello.

 

CMO to CIO – It’s Time We Talked

When we crowdsourced the first The Age of Conversation book back in 2008, the idea of working from the outside-in was untested. Over 100 marketing innovators from 15 countries shared their thoughts and early experiences and Drew McLellan and I produced a book that would go on to create a community, showcase the early adopters and leading social media practitioners and ultimately raise around $50,000 for charity.

People like David Berkowitz wrote about participation and its ephemeral nature in a connected world. Toby Bloomberg peered into the future, suggesting that business was personal and that technology is fueling emotional engagement. And Katie Chatfield told brands to prepare themselves for a party.

Several years on, however, how many brands are ready to party? How many can scale their digital interactions into some form of customer engagement? And how many are prepared to turn conversations into something more than a link or a like?

As this infographic from Socialcast shows, many businesses continue to restrict access to social media in the workplace. At the same time, social marketing agency Awareness suggests that better customer engagement was a top business objective for social media.

  • Social Media Governance a Major Concern for CIOs: The gap between the business objectives and needs of two vital organisational units – technology and marketing appear at odds. Robert Half Technology’s survey of 1400 CIOs indicates that governance concerns are high on the CIO agenda – citing security, legal liability and bandwidth as reasons for blocking social media.
  • Social Media Generates Productivity and Creativity Payoffs: The “micro breaks” offered by social media may actually increase productivity. But this pales into insignificance against the business value of bringing the outside-in. A recent McKinsey Global Institute report suggests that cross-enterprise collaboration is estimated to unlock in excess of $900 billion across four industries.
  • CMO to CIO – Let’s Talk Timing: The competing needs of the CMO and CIO are often seen through the lens of conflict. Customer demands and revenue expectations drive a marketing agenda while risk management, compliance and governance occupy the minds of the CIO. Yet, the opportunity for collaboration exists. CMOs need to understand the challenges of governance and technology and CIOs need exposure to the “front office”. The answer lies in planning and timing. And having the right conversation.

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