As the year winds down, I want to take a moment to breathe, recollect, and refocus on 2010.
In an effort to continually improve, I’m launching a survey to find out more about you, what you find useful, and what can be improved for the web strategy blog. Frequently, I’ve taken the community’s feedback to factor into blog designs, and have taken in feedback from a survey we conducted about this blog in May 2008 (read part 1, and 2, ).
Although we’ll keep your name, email and other personal information private, I plan on sharing the high level findings (just as I did before), so we can collectively learn about the Web Strategy blog and the surrounding community. I’ll also be sharing the anonymous data with some of the well known Analyst Relations bloggers, to get their take on it. This survey is 20 questions, and should take hopefully less than 10 minutes to complete. I really value your feedback, thanks.
Action Requested: Please Take The Web Strategy Feedback Survey. (Update: Thank you, this survey is now closed, with nearly 200 respondents, will publish data soon)
In an effort to recognize the changes in the social media space, I’ve started this post series (see archives) to both track and congratulate folks who get promoted, move, or accept new exciting positions. Please help me congratulate the following folks:
Brian Ellefritz leaves Cisco and joins SAP as the Senior Director of Web 2.0 Marketing, I’ve worked with Brian on a handful of occasions and expect him to continue leading programs at technology corporations.
Stephanie Fuerniss is Capella’s new Managing Editor for Online Communities at Capella University.
Robert Stanke a new hire at Life Time Fitness Community Management & Social Media Strategist, in which he helps develop the growing community of Life Time Fitness members.
Kim Snedaker is now the Social Media Manager AAA Mid-Atlantic, a financial services company.
Angela Patterson joins Bridgestone Americas, Inc. as the Digital Media Coordinator, Corporate and Community Relations Dept. helping to rework the company’s social media strategy, and working across departments to implement it.
How to connect with others (or get a job):
Several people have been hired because of this blog post series, here’s how you can too:
Submit an announcement
If you know folks that are moving up in the social media industry, fill out this form.
Seeking Social Media Professionals?
If you’re seeking to connect with community advocates and community managers there are few resources
Hiring? Leave a comment
If you’re seeking candidates in the social media industry, many of them are within arms reach, feel free to leave a link to a job description (but not the whole job description, please)
Connect the Affluent, Educated, and Active Community To Your Site The stats are obvious, they have a network of 52mm (a sixth of the size of Facebook’s 300mm+) engaged individuals that represent decision makers and those that aspire to be upwardly mobile in their career, view the stats page to learn more. In fact, over 51% earn more than $100k+ a year, and 23% earn more than $150K+ annually. Over 77% of community members have a college degree, making this an educated bunch, yet It’s not just about quality of community, their is an apparent degree of site activity, LinkedIn’s site rivals that of Forbes, and even the WSJ.com, according to Compete.
Your Business Applications And Website Should Never Be “Alone”
If your company is in B2B or trying to reach business professionals, chances are you have an application for them to use. Now, as you launch them, you can quickly integrate with the LinkedIn platform, this way personal data is already populated. This also goes for your corporate website, provide your users the ability to see which one of their LinkedIn contacts has been there, and encourage them to interact with your site and trigger messages back to their LinkedIn news page –fostering word of mouth.
LinkedIn Data To Be Pervasive
CIOs must wake up and realize the value of social networks, even last week, LinkedIn announced a partnership with Microsoft Oulook, extending it’s profile information to legacy email systems. Data will get pre-populated, meaning your contacts can be viewable within the context of your existing emails, empowering you to know more about who you’re meeting even though you’ve never met. We should expect in the future that existing Intranet networks will connect their LDAP to the LinkedIn profile.
And yes, if you haven’t noticed yet, the speed on innovation on the social web is increasing at a rapid pace, things are happening faster than ever. To get a good sense of the evolution of LinkedIn, I’ve created this matrix which shows it’s evolution and some predictions of where things are to head.
Web Strategy Matrix: Evolution of LinkedIn
Destination Social Network
LinkedIn is a destination social network, users to there, login and only communicate within the confines of the domain.
Since it’s inception in 2003, this is how it’s been.
Allows third parties to build applications that sit on the LI domain and interact much like Facebook’s Platform
In Oct 2008, A small hand-selected group of companies like Box were allowed to do this, it’s not currently rolled out to others.
Third party websites can allow users to login using LinkedIn identity, see which friends are also present, then spread information back to LinkedIn.com.
This is today’s announcement, Nov 2009
Personalized Experiences on Third Party Sites
Third party websites can provide personalized content to first time users by recognizing their LinkedIn profile.
Prediction: Mid 2010
LinkedIn partners with SalesForce, SAP, Oracle, Microsoft, to allow data in LinkedIn to quickly be exported to CRM systems. As customers have queries or support issues, the CRM systems will trigger notifications to brand managers.
Prediction: Late 2010
Using mobile devices, users can quickly hold a device up a cell phone in front of a peer to see their LinkedIn data –without even having a conversation.
Forbes CMO Network, An Insightful Resource For Marketing Leaders I’m serving CMOs by teaming up with the Forbes as a regular contributor. My goal? To guide marketing leadership on how to leverage disruptive technologies and meet business goals. At a more detailed level, this blog will continue to aim at providing nitty-gritty breakdowns, frameworks, and insights. Use these two resources in tandem to both develop strategies, and then implement best practices across the organization.
[Companies Must Develop A Holistic Strategy, As Social Technologies Impact Every Customer Touchpoint]
Social Technologies are a Horizontal –Not A Vertical Approach
It continues to amaze the market that such simple social technologies can impact the entire organization. In fact, social technologies, at the core, allow people to connect to each other without a middle person in the way. As a result, expect social technologies to impact every employee and customer touchpoint. CMOs must prepare in their 2010 planning how to leverage social, not as a skunkworks but as a strategic shift in all communications.
For years, bloggers heavy linking and frequent content have scored high on SERP pages. Recently, Google and Microsoft partnered with Twitter, to offer “Social Search” which means users could received customized SERP based on their friends behaviors and preferences.
Social search will impact a prospects search results are impacted by their friends, this complicates the traditional search marketing strategy of simple keyword placement. Conversational marketing becomes a key factor in search strategy. Learn more about Social Search.
Many email vendors like Responsys, ExactTarget, Constant Contact and Zeta Interactive provide simple ways to “share this” email with their friends on social networks. More advanced vendors are offering advanced monitoring, and innovative companies like Flowtown are using email addresses to identify a prospects social networks
Email marketers can no longer be in broadcast mode, but must be prepared for emails to be shared with each other. Furthermore, they should seek how to influence content on the newsfeed in social networks like Facebook and LinkedIn. Learn how email and social networks are interlaced.
Traditional microsites now have social components from simple “Share this” features to viral videos and community dialog. On the extreme side, Skittles allowed the whole site to be taken over by consumers.
A marketing campaign today without social elements is asking to be ignored. To benefit from word of mouth, marketers know spurring a conversation will cause the campaign to spread.
Corporate sites are integrating social features, From Community Platforms like Mzinga, Awareness, Pluck, Kickapps, Liveworld (client) they encourage customers to talk back.
Even if companies don’t want their website to be social, they can’t stop it. Google’s “SideWiki” product allows any webpage to be social using a browser plugin.
Mobile, Location Based
Location based social networks are quickly emerging among early adopters. Foursquare, Gowalla, and even Twitter are allowing people to share their location, time, and social context.
Ok, this isn’t a medium, nor the two listed below, but it impacts the scope of the CMO. Most marketers provide sales enablement resources, now these sales folks are armed with LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter. In fact, many sales folks have had their digital rolodex in LinkedIn for years.
For savvy marketers, providing social marketing skill training to sales folks will provide them with best practices, and teach them to do more quicker. Those that do nothing run the risk of PR nightmares and even legal problems for the untrained department. Learn about social media policies.
What happens in customer support now echos on the social web, from Dooce’s flare up with Maytag to Domino’s Employees snotting on Youtube. Furthermore, customers self-support each other in forums, Facebook, and GetSatisfaction.
Marketers must provide a holistic experience to customers, as they don’t care what department you’re in. Read more about Social Support.
A handful of savvy companies like Dell, Starbucks, and Nokia are using social tools to improve the innovation process using tools from Salesforce ideas, Uservoice, or Getsatisfaction
Sharing This Content
Occasionally, I get a few emails from people asking if they can use my blog posts in their presentations. Here’s my policy: You cannot package up this content and sell it without my permission. However, it is ok to use for educational purposes as long as you give me credit on the slide, mention it verbally, and link to my blog. Creative Commons defines this as: Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 United States License. Love to hear your comments below, and how social impacts all digital channels.
Thanks to Christine Tran, Altimeter Researcher for her editorial expertise on the Forbes piece.
At the Altimeter Group, I cover Customer Strategy, which encompasses not only marketing, but also support, expect our discussion to grow as social technologies impact the whole enterprise.
The Social Support movement is afoot (see opportunities), and more companies will be connecting existing marketing and support systems with the social web. Many companies, like Comcast, Wells Fargo, Intel, BestBuy, JetBLue are responding to customers and in some cases, supporting them in near real time.
The challenge is that these teams are unable to scale, even a support team of ten full time folks at Comcast will have a hard time responding to all customers in all social channels. As a result, expect companies to resort to scalable ways to respond to customers, such as:
The Four Social Support Strategies
1) Do Nothing:Use Legacy Support Channels
Some companies will not respond to customers, it’s not in their culture, exposes them to risk, have specific legal or federal restrictions in place, or simply don’t get this space. In this case, these companies may only choose to support customers in their formal forms of support in 1800 numbers or on the official company websites
2) Employee Based Support: Employees Respond to Customers
Many companies are assigning people in their support or product teams to respond to customers in the social web. The more conservative the company, the less people are officially able to support. Take for example financial services company Wells Fargo has a handful of “Social Concierges” that tweet on the @Ask_WellsFargo account, they set expectations around hours of service (insert banker’s hours joke here) and not to disclose account information. On the flip side, Best Buy encourages their thousands and thousands of “Blue Shirt” employees to respond using a Twitter CMS system that response from the official @Twelpforce account.
3) Peer Based Support: Customer to Customer Other companies will approach this by encouraging their top customers to respond on their behalf. By creating online communities where customers can self-support each other using Q&A features like Salesforce “Answers”, or my Lithium’s unique Twitter alerting system that encourages advocates to respond to prospects. (Lithium is an Altimeter Group client). It’s not just on branded communities, many companies encourage support from third party sites such as Get Satisfaction, who centralizes support for all products.
4) Automated Social Support: Computer Generated Tweets
Social CRM systems are going to be intelligent, in fact, they’ll start to incorporate bot-like features you can find in web-based chat support, or the logic from interactive voice systems (IVR), and respond to customers. Support and product teams can already tweet from some CRM interfaces, so attaching an intelligence module will be the next step –it could even come from existing employee Twitter handles.
Web Strategy Matrix: The Four Social Support Strategies
Rely on Legacy Systems
This keeps customers in the right process and funnel that the company is used to. Secondly, it doesn’t reinforce that customers should yell at their friends to get help from a company
Missed opportunities: Angry customers could revolt starting a Groundswell, or leave an opportunity for competitors to swoop in and take dissatisfied customers.
Employee to Customer
Provides a personal touch to help and assist customers, builds relations and trust
Companies can reduce costs by having customers self-support each other. Collectively, customers may often know more about the company’s products than the actual product team.
Unfortunately, not all questions may get answered in a timely way, or answered correctly by staff who may have the inside details. Also, content in knowledge bases, wikis, forums, and Q&A features are often unstructured, messy, and hard to navigate.
Automated Social Support
Companies can quickly scale by responding to customers faster, and more accurately, using automated responses.
Augmented Reality provides brands with an engaging experience that merges both the digital and the real world. This 30 second video shows how a 3D animation on the product box enabled me to understand the assembled product.
Lego’s “Digital Box” Provides Customers with an Interactive 3D Digital Experience
This weekend, I went to the local Lego store here in Silicon Valley (Hillsdale) to see a practical version of Augmented Reality. I was previously briefed by Metaio, the technology vendor that empowers the software for the Augmented Reality kiosks called, Digital Box. This store, outfitted with a kiosk with a screen and webcam gives instructions on how to show the contents of any box assembled in real time. Not all of the boxes were equipped (I tried the Star Wars line with no available) but was able to grab this lego kit of a bus, hold it in front of the kiosk. You can see that the contents ‘assembled’ on the screen, and came to life as a pre-set animation, as I rotated the box, the virtual animation would move with it, giving the illusion that the bus was actually moving over the box.
Breakdown: “Kiosk” Style Augmented Reality
Accessing Augmented Reality experiences from a built in camera and screen at a physical location
Embryonic, this market has physical and software barriers, as well as low consumer awareness and adoption.
Increase customer engagement in store, increase intent to buy and reduce sales costs. An immediate opportunity is for retail, small business, tourism, and consumer packaged goods industries. Secondly, media, gaming, home and business design, and mobile industries should take note and investigate this space.
Consumers have limited awareness to AR space, and are unaware of the kiosks. Interaction is clunky and requires practice, graphics are effective –but not refined
Brands that deploy AR in 2010 will benefit from “cool” factor being an early adopter.
Expensive deployment to create animations, and put kiosks in all locations.
Innovative, but a victim of ‘shiny object’ syndrome as the business benefits aren’t directly indicated. Heavy overhead required to deploy hardware and software, as well as moderate learning curve for consumers. To truly become a mainstream channel, AR within stories should be accessed by mobile devices –not kiosks. Secondly, existing web content should be ‘linked’ to existing products that include additional videos, support, and consumer generated content. Brands that have complex consumer packaged goods should deploy in stores, or products that have an heavy education or support cost and can’t deploy in house sales or service folks.
Augmented Reality Not Ready For Primetime –Yet Promises Real World Engagement
The above matrix is just a breakdown of ‘Kiosk” style of Augmented reality, however let’s look at this space as a whole. This technology is in its infancy, the animations are still simple, don’t have a lot of interaction beyond rotation, and require moderate ability to line the product up directly with the web cam. Furthermore, there are barriers to entry as most people didn’t even know about this feature in the store till I showed them, and not every product was outfitted with the ability to display the interactions.
Despite the fact that this is an emerging technology with years ’till maturity, there are three major business opportunities:
Extending the web to the real world. Reusing existing digital marketing and support content (from the web) in the physical world will add mileage to marketing assets. Consumers can access related existing content such as brochure facts, customer reviews, or web based demos that already exist wherever they are, without looking for a URL. The camera lens will identify the product, then serve up the context information with a click of a button.
Greasing marketing and sales process. Creating an engaging experience with customers near point of sale reducing sales costs through sales aids or increasing interest. Animations and virtual experiences can be connected with any device from anywhere, triggering demos, how-to videos, or even 3D media that would entice a prospect to spend more time, or purchase the product. Essentially, this means a virtual sales person or guide could assist any consumer from anywhere at anytime.
Ubiquitous information with mobile devices. Aside from kiosks in stores, we should eventually expect mobile devices to be equipped with the capability to instantly bring up internet information about any product in real-time. Expect Google to develop a product that maps physical products with their online information, making them yet the middleman for internet advertising –again. Furthermore, it gets really interesting when a brand can ‘hijack’ another company’s brand by creating augmented reality experiences on the boxes of their competitors.