Gary Goldhammer leaves Edelman and joins Velocidi, a digital agency, read his post, congrats Gary on next steps.
Former SimplyHired, LinkedIn fame, Kay Luo joins Square, Jack Dorsey’s startup focused on mobile payments. I’ve known Kay for a number of years and have continued to be impressed with her forward momentum.
Anthony Poncier joins USEO as Director of Consulting Director specialized in social collaboration strategy
Barbara Maldonado joins Legacy Marketing Partners as Social Media and Mobile Strategist where he will lead agency efforts in the integration of social media and mobile extention of client campaigns.
Brian Molstad joins 7Summits as User Experience Architect and Web Analyst Deliver agile and effective user experience architecture and web analytics
Jessica Itzel joins MGH as Social Media Marketing Account Coordinator. Jessica is in charge of daily Facebook and Twitter management for her clients, helping with social media marketing initiatives, social media monitoring, and assisting with the Baltimore Buzz Brigade program for Visit Baltimore.
Kerrie Lapworth joins FreshNetworks as Head of Production. Kerrie will head up the Project Delivery team which includes Project Managers, Information Architects and User Experience experts.
Loren King Shields joins TEKNO101 as Vice President, Marketing and Digital Strategy, As Vice President of Marketing and Digital Strategy, Loren will lead the company’s initiatives to provide a suite of solutions designed to make college better, easier and less expensive for students and their families.
Jon Russell joins Amadeus IT Group Social media consultant Social media consultant based out of Bangkok office forming part of the global team managing overall company social media strategy.
Amber Naslund joins Radian6 as VP Social Strategy Amber will be helping develop best practices for companies and agencies to leverage social media, community and engagement to achieve their business goals.
Daniella Degrace joins Radian6 as Executive Vice President of Customer Success The role Customer Success is to ensure Radian6 clients leverage the full power of the platform to meet their goals.
Kristin Maverick joins BBO as Social Media Strategist Social media strategy for BBDO’s major clients
Kate Gold joins Scripps Networks as Social Media Director Leading social media strategy across the Scripps Networks brands, including Food Network, HGTV and Travel Channel.
Sean Gelles joins Ketchum as Director of Digital and Social Media Measurement Steward the agency’s portfolio of digital and social media measurement tools and and develop innovative ways to gauge the impact of social media investments
Jessica Kalbarczyk joins Samsung Electronics as Social Media Analyst Monitor and respond online via various social media channels to Samsung customers
Julie Navarro joins We Are Social as Account Manager Julie is the 6th person to join We Are Social France – she will help us with the growth of our client base, with her account management, community management and project management skills
Katy Kelley joins Ruder Finn as VP of Corporate Communications Helping to define internal and external corporate strategy
Jim Rudden joins Spredfast as CMO of Marketing the enterprise social media management platform
Betsy Soler joins Florida International University as Social Media Community Manager. She’ll work closely with the Marketing Director in identifying opportunities and strategies for the university in the social media space.
Andrew Foote joins Edelman Digital (New York) SVP, Managing multiple accounts across practices, providing counsel on digital and social strategy, and supporting new business initiatives.
Chris Dowsett joins Quantum as Social Media Researcher, monitoring social media metrics and developing clever engagement algorithms for Quantum’s social media strategy.
On March 5th, Ray Wang and I announced the SCRM report, along with that, we launched a community to allow practitioners and those who serve them to connect to each other. The goal of this group was to extend the discussion further in this very early market, hence we coined it a “Pioneers” group and dubbed the theme around exploration, going “west” as we explored various trails as a collective. A few days ago, the Social CRM Pioneers Group (you can join too) crossed over 1000 members and the discussions in this new industry continue to spill over.
This labor of love continues to impress me as members connect, share, and foster new relationships that spill over to real world conferences and events. There are actual practioneres from Comcast, Dell, BT, David’s Bridal, and others who may not want to share their employers name on what they see happening, additionally, many of the vendors we outlined in the SCRM report are also present.
Here’s a selection of some of the more interesting discussions:
Of course, any community requires some weeding, and I had to turn on message moderation as we started to receive spam. In addition to myself and Ray, w e also anointed Jacob Morgan to help with moderation, who was a big help when I was on the road. We started to feel a change in the seas when we started to see our very first SCRM dedicated job postings emerge, leaving the choice to the community, we setup a poll to allow the pioneers to decide on how those job postings would appear, and it was decided by the group a single ongoing thread would be appropriate.
If you’re a pioneer, I’d like to thank you for your contributions in the community, thank you for connecting and learning with each other so we can grow this new approach.
How the Contact Center Evolves: Traditional to Social Media Social media is not just a ‘new channel’ where existing processes are applied, there are significant changes required in approach or risk public customer backlash, support teams must be aware o f the following changes:
Traditional Channels vs Social Channels: Rather than use traditional communication channels like phone, web, online chat, and email, Social Media support centers will reach customers where they already are –in social networks where they talk to each other.
Inbound vs Outbound: Rather than waiting for customers to contact the contact center on phone support, web, or online chat, they are being proactive by listening to customers and responding to them in their own native social channels. Expect savvy brands to anticipate customers needs by using Social CRM databases to find trends, locate issues before they surface, then contacting customers before their issue surfaces.
Post Issue vs Real Time Response: Call centers often occur once a customer has had a negative issue, and a frazzled or frustrated customer calls in. The goal of Social Support is for support agents to contact customers before they call the support center, reducing expensive high touchpoints.
Incident Resolution Scripts vs Lifestyle Content: Call centers have one one primary mission and often a secondary: to solve customer woes and get them off the phone as quickly as possible to keep costs low, or flip to upsell opportunities. The contact agents script has been carefully designed to solve customer issues quickly and efficiently, yet, social media support may involve discussions and true dialog that build relationships with the customers beyond product support. Expect lifestyle content, news, industry happpenings, and even marketing deals to emerge in the same social channels to offer more value for customers.
One-off Incidental Relationships vs Long Term Relationships: Contact center interactions often are short term, with different staff interacting with different customers with no long-term relationship building. In social media support, a handful of the same folks may participate in the social support efforts with their public persona appearing, this building a known relationship as a human with customers. See how regulated Wells Fargo does it right with their Ask Wells Fargo Twitter help account.
Customer Support Skills vs Social Media Skills: While we’ve already seen a traditional skillset emerge for contact centers, expect a new skill set will be required to learn: brand monitoring tools, social media workflow, listening tools, social CRM training. Beyond the tools, they’ll have to learn conversational marketing, conversational support, and have a high degree of gut feeling to determine if an incident will need to be responded to. Furthermore, they’ll need to quickly ascertain the social influence of customers, as that will impact the triage process, that’s right, certain customers with more Twitter followers will receive priority treatment over others.
The Future: While Strategy Remains Constant, Expect Resurgence of Vendors and Measurement This isn’t a revolution but instead evolution, in fact both types of centers will focus on issue resolution and customer satisfaction rates. Both will have dedicated teams.Voices from customers cascade into social channels, and in both cases customers will likely share their experiences to their friends in social channels. Expect that contact centers in India and Philippines to quickly gain steam in this area, cut deals with one of the 145 brand monitoring companies, and offer these pilot programs to their clients. Lastly, expect that studies emerge that show the cost savings by heading off customer complaints early and responding to them before an incident goes ‘viral’ or reduction in low cost social channels vs higher cost call channels emerge.
Update Dec 11: Although Dell gave me an invite to come to the grand opening, I was unable to attend due to travel, they’ve now launched their Social Media Listening Command Center, see above.
Anthony Poncier joins USEO Director Consulting Director specialized in social collaboration strategy
Barbara Maldonado joins Legacy Marketing Partners as Social Media and Mobile Strategist Lead agency efforts in the integration of social media and mobile extention of client campaigns.
Brian Molstad joins 7Summits as User Experience Architect and Web Analyst. He’ll focus on delivering agile and effective user experience architecture and web analytics
Jessica Itzel joins MGH as Social Media Marketing Account Coordinator Jessica is in charge of daily Facebook and Twitter management for her clients, helping with social media marketing initiatives, social media monitoring, and assisting with the Baltimore Buzz Brigade program for Visit Baltimore.
Kerrie Lapworth joins FreshNetworks as Head of Production wgere Kerrie will head up the Project Delivery team which includes Project Managers, Information Architects and User Experience experts.
Loren King Shields joins TEKNO101 as Vice President, Marketing and Digital Strategy. Loren will lead the company’s initiatives to provide a suite of solutions designed to make college better, easier and less expensive for students and their families.
Jon Russell joins Amadeus IT Group as Social media consultant out of Bangkok office forming part of the global team managing overall company social media strategy.
Background: From Three Software Classes to Fifteen (Sixteen) in 4 Years From When I first started as an industry analyst about covering this space there were really only three classes of companies: Social networks like Facebook, community platforms, and existing BBS and Blogging software companies. Fast forward a few years, this space has grown tremendously with an influx of new types of software vendors as well as specialization from a growing market.
[The social software space has ballooned into a disparate set of technologies, data types, and over 1000 vendors confusing buyers. Despite the explosion of innovation, expect a ‘Social Business Suite’ to appear that consolidate many of these features for enterprise buyers]
Categorization is crucial in managing this rapidly evolving space
It’s very difficult to completely segment this space as many of the vendors cross into multiple categories so I’ve separated it into major function groups. If you’re completely new to this space, I’ve created this easy to understand slideshare comparing this ecosystem to a marine ecosystem. Here’s my take on how I see the categories taking shape within the Social Business Software Suite, while there’s 15 now, I know this will only grow over time.
Update: Added the social commerce platforms as a category under platforms
The Stack: The Social Business Software Suite Category Name, Short Description, Frequently Heard Vendor Names
Listening and Learning (2):
Brand monitoring: These listening and learning tools provide data to brands by filtering data via scraping and APIs then sorting by keywords. Frequently mentioned vendors include Radian6, Alterian, ScoutLabs, Visible Technologies, Cymfony, there are over 145 known vendors.
Social Analytics and Social Insights: Beyond just monitoring these vendors offer insight to what the data actually means by trying to identify influence patterns, conversion rates, and thereby making pragmatic recommendations on what brands should do: Frequently mentioned vendors includes Crimson Hexagon, Crowd Factory. This space is quickly going to become crowded as existing Business Intelligence software vendors move in like SAS, Oracle, Sap, Qlikview. See how I segment these vendors into specific sub classes.
Social Platforms (7):
Social Networks (organic): There’s a large group of social networks all across the globe but Facebook continues to take dominance in adoption. Yet don’t discount other systems, as when you look closely, Google, Yahoo, MSN, AOL are also social networks, and will continue to innovate as well as aggregate.
Community Platforms (private or white label): Having tracked this space for a few years now, and these tools allow companies to have their own ‘branded’ or ‘private label’ Facebook for their customers. Often used for customer facing, it’s also extended to partners as well as employees. You’ll find vendors that straddle this as well as the Collaboration Platforms as the component features are easy to interchange. Commonly heard vendors are Awareness, Mzinga, Jive, Telligent, Ingage Networks, Kickapps, Pluck, Lithium, Liveworld, and to some degree, recent counts have placed this space at 125 vendors, it’s a commodity and most have evolved past offering these features only.
Collaboration Platforms: Primarily for internal use within a company, these vendors are quickly extending to also involve partners they allow for teams to work together regardless of distance, time, or organizational models. Frequently mentioned vendors include Sharepoint, Jive, Telligent, Atlassian, SocialText, PBWorks, and recent entrant BroadVision’s Clearvale. Furthermore, a subset of vendors has emerged dubbed “Insight community vendors” that allow brands to build communities and derive intelligence and reporting from their reactions and behaviors.
Enterprise Microblogging Platforms: A subset of collaboration technologies these features allow employees to quickly connect to each other with micromedia much how Twitter first formed. Commonly mentioned vendors include SocialCast, Yammer, Gist SocialText, Chatter. Although I started a list, my partner Marcia Conner specializes in this space, and has an upcoming research report on this topic, follow her on Twitter to learn more.
Blogging Platforms: While a common feature in community platforms the dominant platforms include WordPress, SixApart, Squarespace and a variety offered at other companies like Google’s Blogspot.
Innovation Platforms: Often a feature of the above platforms these tools allow companies to collaborate with customers to build better products. Early entrants includes Salesforce Ideas, UserVoice and open source Pligg.
Social Commerce Platforms: A late entry, but these vendors provide social promotions, social recommendations, group deals, loyalty programs, social badging, gaming, and the reporting and intelligence behind it.
Aggregation and Integration (3):
Social Inbox Aggregation: Tightly related to Microblogging tools, these technologies aggregate an individuals social streams from a a variety of sources via social connections into a single page. Much how Facebook offers this on the newsfeed we’re seeing similar features from vendors like Chatter, SocialText, Gist. Often these features are integrated into Microblogging tools or Collaboration platforms. There are a handful of vendors in this space, plus countless features embedded in other platforms.
Identity Brokers: Integration of social networks and corporate websites are already starting to happen. As a result, brands are stymied by the complex ever-changing set of social logins, profiles, graphs, and APIs to manage. A new class of identity brokers are much like a router and make connecting simple for brands. The most common vendors include Gigya and Janrain.
Aggregation and Curation Solutions: Curation and aggregation are the next set of technologies to emerge as social networks and websites start to integrate. This efficient solution aggregates the discussions about a particular topic back to a single webpage, bringing relevance back to the corporate site. On my blog, I’m using tools like Disqus, and at work we’re experimenting with Echo.
Publication, Sharing, Connection Technology (3):
Applications in Social Networks:There are over one million of existing applications within Facebook alone, and other social networks like LinkedIn, Twitter continue to allow third parties to develop. This disparate landscape represents a few solid hits and thousands of long tail apps that will never get used more than a few times.
Social Media Management Systems. This recent entrant spurred out of the need for individuals to manage their multiple disparate identities and information from a variety of social networks. For example, a single individual may have accounts on Flickr, Facebook, Twitter, Posterous, YouTube, etc. Now, as brands have moved into this space, each sub product or region may have separate iterations of their identity making management a nightmare. Commonly mentioned vendors includes CoTweet, HootSuite, Sprinklr, Objective Marketer, Expion or SpredFast. Expect rapid acquisition of this product set if they can’t evolve beyond simple features into a suite. There are 19 social media management system vendors in this space.
Sharing Tools: These dead basic technologies allow an individual to share content they find interesting to their social networks. Not much more than a feature, these have spread into a variety of other systems (mainly community platforms or email vendors) or we’ve seen acquisitions. Commonly mentioned vendors are Sharethis and Addthis.
Infrastructure/Core Functionality (1):
Social CRM: This set of technologies and strategy enables companies to use a variety of the above technologies to predict and anticipate customers by aggregating content. Many vendors have SCRM claims, yet we’ve yet to see a single vendor that spans the gaps across all the use cases. Read the Social CRM report to learn more. Update: I changed this category to “Core Functionality” at the suggestion of Ray Wang, my partner on the research report.
The Future: Expect Consolidation Into a Social Business Suite
It’s been an incredible ride to watch this space grow, and I know that we’re still very early in this nascent industry as we’ve not seen a clear dominant platform in this space. Yet as we advance towards maturity, here’s what we should expect to see:
In a sea of choices, buyers will demand consolidation. Even among the fifteen classes that I’ve segmented out, there are sometimes over a hundred vendors in each of these classes. As the choices increase buyers will continue to demand a ‘do it all’ system that offers more than one system. As a result, we’re already seeing a land grab by some of these vendors to build a single system.
Vendors torn between building, partnering and being acquired. If you’re a vendor that’s attempting to offer multiple offerings, you’re on the right track. Any vendor that’s only focused on one of these is unlikely to survive the long haul as the buyers who I’m speaking to are frustrated with the massive amount of choices.
Slower incumbents will use a war chest to buy innovation –few will innovate. Expect incumbant enterprise software vendors to head towards the acquisition approach, and then glue these together. Secondly, we’re seeing some vendors like Jive, Lithium, Exact Target, make some key buys (Filtrbox, ScoutLabs, CoTweet, respectively) in order to expand to a suite of services.
In my upcoming report on the social strategist role in enterprise (you can find out how to get a copy here) I’m asking specific demand and buy side questions from the buyers. More data to be revealed shortly.
Disclosure: I work with many of these vendors, yet unlike most analyst firms, we do our best to disclose, as a result, we hope you trust us more. Thanks to Doug Camplejohn for letting me know about an inaccuracy I had with one of the vendor acquisitions, Exact Target acquired CoTweet.