Social Media and Marketing: More than Just du Jour - Customer Relationship Management

Dissecting marketing types is a Herculean effort that actually makes the trials of Hercules pale by comparison. There are search engine marketing,relationship marketing,database marketing,emotional marketing,trust-based marketing,direct mail marketing,e-mail marketing,mobile marketing, social media marketing,product marketing,solution-based marketing,and well,let’s just make ad nauseum the punctuation.

I deliberately left out word-of-mouth marketing because though you can make a case for it as marketing—which the Word of Mouth Marketing Association (WOMMA) does—it is more than that. It’s how we communicate with each other,and it is the most potent influence in what we purchase. To illustrate this,Big Research did a 2007 study on purchasing influences in varying industries,and word of mouth came out on top in most of them. For example,in consumer electronics,word of mouth had a 39 percent mindshare with nothing else particularly close.

But the one that has captured the imagination of marketers,primarily because customers are responding to it,is social media marketing or,more properly,using social media tools as part of a marketing strategy. The numbers are there to justify it. A 2008 study by Cone on business in social media found that 60 percent of Americans are using social media,with half of those using it more than twice a week. The numbers have skyrocketed since 2008 according to other studies to between 74 percent and 84 percent,depending on who you feel like believing this morning. But what is incontrovertible is that a majority of Americans are engaged in using some form of social media from the more passive blog reading to the more active creation of blogs,podcasts,and participation in social networks.

I was one of the speakers at the 2009 Global Retail Marketers Association (GRMA) event in Florida. The audience there,a mélange of senior marketing officers with many years of experience in their respective industries and positions,were not only blown away by the new customer-centric marketing logic referenced in this chapter,but were found to not be all that participant in the social media either personally or at the companies that they worked for. I had a significant number of the attendees (more than two hands worth) come up to me and ask for the presentation notes because they wanted to bring back the ideas to their very substantially sized companies. These were extraordinary people,with deep expertise,who were just beginning to see the power of social media,both from cost and reach.

The lack of experience isn’t stopping the likely spending on social marketing. In April 2009,Forrester released a survey on online advertising that forecast a growth in all areas of interactive marketing from 2009 to 2014,but the growth in each of social media marketing (34 percent) and mobile marketing (27 percent) was twice the growth or more of almost any other category over that time span. The figure that they throw out for social media spending is $716 million in 2009 to $3.1 billion in 2014.Gulp.

These numbers or the equivalent commitments are repeated almost across the board as spending in more traditional ways decreases. But that doesn’t mean that there is a long or deep cultural adoption of social media marketing. To do that would be a change in culture that would portend the discarding of the product-centric or companycentric previous models. That ain’t an easy task,princes and princesses.

Avanade,the odd couple alliance between Microsoft and Accenture,released a study they hired Coleman Parkes Research to do in late 2008 called “CRM and Social Media: Maximizing Deeper Customer Relationships.” In a nutshell,they found there is no doubt that companies see the value of social media. Apropos of marketing in particular,64 percent of the respondents saw an improved reputation in the marketplace. Substantial numbers indeed. Two in five claim that they can associate an increase in sales to the move to use social media. While I’m a little skeptical of that one,who am I to argue with the numbers?

But the problems are manifest too. Between fears of security (76 percent),senior management apathy (57 percent),fear of using unknown technology (58 percent) and,biggest myth of all,a fear of a negative impact on productivity (50 percent),the level of actual adoption was low,with over 60 percent of the respondents saying that adoption of social media was not on the agenda. While marketers may be intrigued by social media,they haven’t planned on what to do with it. In fact,only 18 percent had any kind of social media strategy at all.

Yet social media marketing value has an ROI that can be benchmarked. Aberdeen Group did a study in early 2009 on the ROI of social media marketing that found those same concerns over investment,with 59 percent of the respondents concerned about the difficulty in getting buy-in for it. But what Aberdeen is able to do in this study is show that the best in class companies figured out how to use it well and got value:

  • 68 percent had a social media monitoring process
  • 58 percent had dedicated social media marketing resources
  • A surprising 61 percent were hosting online communities

Needless to say,this was far higher than the normal or mediocre performers.

So the contradictions are stark here. Companies are willing to spend the bucks,there is a proven good result,but once the technologies and the processes and protocols are put in place,adoption isn’t certain by a long shot,either at the top or at the grassroots.

What’s terribly sad about all of this is that there is no doubt about the promise of social media,beyond the shiny new toy part of it. Over 50 percent of the companies feel that companies that don’t adopt it will be left behind,but 60 percent of the same don’t plan to adopt it. Sixty-one percent see it as a key way of communicating with the customer. Interestingly,78 percent see it as an effective way to communicate given the cost reductions of a downturn. But they are going to fail unless they can discard the broken marketing logics that tend to predominate in their corporate lives.

We are a cheery bunch with a rosy outlook,aren’t we? I’m presuming that you’re plowing through this opus because you want to find out about how CRM is changing,how the customer is communicating and what they are demanding,and what you have to do to deal with that. So I’m going to presume that these corporate barriers are not there for the remaining part of this chapter.

Marketing=Monitoring—In Part
What do you do to track the conversation? Is the conversation all you track? What do you do with it when you find it? Actually,you’re monitoring two things as a marketing person who,incidentally,is aligned perfectly with sales as far as my sunny self is concerned here.

First,you are monitoring information—news sources or analyst pieces,for example. You are also monitoring conversation—in the blogosphere,on social review sites,on Twitter,or Facebook and LinkedIn or in threaded forums or specialized social networks. That means what the crowd and distinct personalities in the crowd are talking about. The reason I separate the two is that you need to see the results somewhat differently.

We’ve already discussed monitoring information in the sales section and that is in part what SalesView does. But they are information focused—getting intelligence on the prospects you have,finding prospects from intelligence. What is more germane to this section is the conversation.

What Does the Conversation Sound Like?
One of the upsides of social media monitoring tools is that not only can they make coherent sense out of what is otherwise an apparent constant indistinguishable buzz,but they can capture the data and then integrate it,if they’re really good,into traditional CRM data stores. Later,we’ll take a brief look at one particular tool,Radian6,that is probably the premier tool at doing just this.

But before we go there,it pays to figure out what components are actually part of the noise. In a very important 2008 work called “How Consumer Conversation Will Transform Business,” Pricewaterhouse Coopers identified four things to listen for. The notes are mine here.

  • Volume This is a look at the historic patterns of a particular topic of conversation versus the current amount of discussion going on. Take a look at the screen in Figure. This is a representation of what’s trending in real time with Twitter. If you look at the tag cloud,the largest words are the “loudest” conversations—the ones with the most volume—a click on the term will get you to the tweets that reference the term.
    Conversation Sound
    Twitter trends reflect the volume of the conversation

  • Tone If you’re Craig Newmark of craigslist,you might be interested in the reasonably high volume conversation going on about craigslist suing the South Carolina attorney general. What you don’t know from the volume is what the tonality is. This is the positive,negative,or neutral discussion. Let’s say you see a prevalent thread in the conversation using the words stupid or jerk when it comes to the South Carolina attorney general— you’d get a good sense of the positive view of craigslist in this tiff,in addition to the obviously negative view of the attorney general. If it just simply reported on the same thing without any emotional phrasing around it,you’d get the idea that this was of topical interest only and would not be buzz for very long.

  • Coverage This is based on the number of sources who are generating the conversation. If the large tag in the trend cloud around “craigslist sues” is the result of 20 people talking a lot about the subject,it would have a decidedly different context than if it were about 200 people who made 300 comments.

  • Authoritativeness This one is far more important than it might seem—it is a qualitative ranking of the sources. Are they influential? Are they not? For example,if you found that much of the negative commentary about the attorney general not only emanated from some citizens of South Carolina but came from a key opponent of the attorney general who barely lost to him in an election race (this is all fictional speculation for the purposes of this discussion),that might have a huge impact on a lot more people than if it were random members of the crowd on Twitter.

This is what you need to take into account each time you begin to monitor and then distinguish the conversation. As we’ll see in the chapter on customer service,up next,there are conversations being monitored on Twitter that are evaluated via sentiment analysis. For example,the Business Objects Insight tool uses text analysis on specific conversations that garner the attention of the program because of rules and filters that are preset,e.g.,“find anything that says product sucks,”and then according to preset business rules,alerts whoever needs to be alerted based on the sentiment involved,how it’s ranked,and the intensity of the language involved. For example,“horrible” is worse than “not very good” is worse than “so so.”

One caveat when it comes to social media monitoring. It is monitoring,not interaction. It’s also not strategic action either. What you’re getting is data that you need to make an effective decision on how you’re going to approach your customer,prospects,and those who influence them—or how you’re going to capitalize on an emerging trend. But once you know that,you still have to actively engage customers with a strategy that’s appropriate to the ongoing interactions— not just the interaction based on the conversation. It could be a service issue to be resolved or a trend that you want to actually capture so that you can derive revenue.

Listen to PwC again:
One of the major challenges for companies today is not only understanding how to hear whispers but also having the processes in place to react quickly enough to verify them with other slower-moving data streams (e.g.,customer surveys or financial projections),and finally to change strategy quickly enough to take advantage of a trend before it wanes.

That is the difference between just using social media monitoring to garner information or using Social CRM to figure out how to move to action. It’s always how you use data,not the fact that you have it.

A Brief Note on Influencers
Influencers aren’t only people with mass followings. Just because someone has 500,000 Twitter followers doesn’t make them influential. Actually,there’s a member of the Twitterverse with the handle Sockamillion who has more than 1.1 million followers at this writing. He’s not an influencer. He’s a cat. Ashton Kutcher who has more than 3.4 million followers is not a real influencer except as a celebrity within the Twitterverse—and he doesn’t personally correspond with his followers either. So what he says has little gravitas,which I’m sure is fine with him,but you shouldn’t waste time on his pronouncements. You’re not being punk’d.

However,there are people who are influential within an industry that may affect you who have perhaps 1,000 followers on Twitter,or a blog or two read by those who should be reading it. If your offerings are in and around that industry,even with 1/10,000 the audience of Ashton Kutcher,you are going to want to meet and converse with that person—get them involved with you. Their weak ties—meaning the folks within their network with two or three degrees of separation— may be your future clients. Don’t underestimate that. Make sure you connect with them.

As Paul Gillin,in his 2009 brilliant “how-to” book,The Secrets of Social Media Marketing,puts it:
One of the most common mistakes that public relations professionals make is to contact the media only when they have something to promote. That’s not a relationship. That’s a transaction. It’s easy to keep track of what influencers are saying. Subscribe to their RSS feed and keep an eye on new activity. Send e-mails or leave comments on their site every so often to show them that you are engaged. You won’t believe how rarely this is done and it will pay huge dividends for you.

If you know your target audience and know who and what influences them,what can you do to succeed at this? Let’s look at Procter and Gamble,who under the stewardship of CEO A.J.Lafley just seems to keep doing it right.

Case Study:Procter and Gamble Get It Right . . . with a Few Glitches
In February 2005,Procter and Gamble (P&G) began what was an innovative marketing campaign. For a company with over 300 brands and 26 of them worth more than $1 billion,it was radical. They announced an antiperspirant called Secret Sparkle Body Spray that was geared to a preteen and early teen market. No,that wasn’t what was radical. Listen up. Don’t be so impatient.

What made this a transformational marketing initiative was the use of social tools aimed at that young girl market. They started by using some traditional means such as TV advertising and print media,but they fell afoul of CARU—the Children’s Advertising Review Unit—which monitors advertising for in appropriate ads. In the case of P&G,they were advertising a product on TV and in print that clearly stated “please keep away from children” on the label,which they were not supposed to do. They withdrew the TV and print ads right away to comply.

Much more appropriate was the May 2005 launch of the blog—a website that centered around blogs associated with the four antiperspirant scents: Vanilla,Peach,Rose,and Tropical. Each blog had a color scheme,a series of contests,and interactive activities to cement kid communities. These could include building a dream date with an ideal guy and then e-mailing the “date” to your girlfriends. Additionally,there were active discussions and expert advice for these kids on music,fashion,parties,and sports.

Blogs that are associated with a culture or a product but are not truly individual are called “character blogs.” The bloggers,who might be professional writers,are reflecting the character of the site. For example,entries on the Tropical blog,a shade of yellow (like the sun I suppose), would talk about days at the beach or the use of sun block. These blogs often come under fire because they aren’t an “authentic” individual’s singular voice or even a group of voices. But there is nothing wrong with them if their intent is stated and the idea clear. It’s only when they are deceptive that there’s a problem. In the case of P&G,it was meant to be more engaging to their target audience.

It was and it worked. By July 2005,mostly through digital word of mouth,there were 12,000 unique visitors per week who spent an average of 25 minutes per visit! While the stickiness factor of 25 minutes is amazing,what’s even more astounding is the ROI. By the end of July 2005,Secret Sparkle Body Spray had 0.8 percent of the entire antiperspirant market. That amounts to $83 million in revenue. That’s the entire market,not just the preteen and early teen girl market. I would guess they had 100 percent of that.

Ah,but the story doesn’t stop there,my friends and colleagues. In 2007,recognizing their audience had grown older, grew up with it. Instead of dream dates with 12- to 14-year-olds in mind,they figured on what the 17- to 18-year-old girl might want. The contest? Upload a video to with you bustin’ your best dance moves—if you are a 17- to 18-year-old girl with parents’ permission. This was a nationwide contest with road shows in Chicago,Los Angeles,and several other American cities. The winner got to dance in a JLo video—that’s Jennifer Lopez for those who were cryogenically frozen for the last decade or so. If you’re still not sure who she was,I can’t help you.

Listen and learn from P&G. They are innovative and they run throughout the whole book because of that. If you’re Fortune 100,you have a lot to learn here. Even if you’re a little guy,you can learn from them. Their marketing department thinks out of the box that results in something that marketing doesn’t often do—they drive revenue directly. That should get and keep your attention.

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