It’s hard to believe that this desire to thank those on the front lines in digital mediums between customers and companies took off so quickly. The first year, it was just a murmur online and now it’s spread on its own to physical events around the world. I had nothing to do with the first group (Boston) leading the first ever physical event, but then quickly suggested that other regions (even my local area SF) to step up.
Blogs, Tweets, Pictures, and Videos of CMAD around the Globe:
Below I’ll curate the interesting voices around the world at the 2nd annual Community Manager Appreciation Day.
Kindly leave a comment below and I’ll aggregate into this post.
What’s success? In year 3 and beyond it just happens on its own, and I don’t have to promote if further, people forget that I spurred it. The real testament if our friends at Hallmark are able to get behind it.
And most importantly, a sincere thanks to those Community Managers are forging the relationships between customers and companies using these new technologies.
Stats how the day unfolded online from Alterian, see blog.
Spiceworks, an online community for the IT community literally rolls out the red carpet for Nic, their CM, more details, and read Nic’s perspective (be sure to read the various comments from all threads).
Want to hear what the job is really like? CA’s Community Managers show how they reach thousands of customers each day, more info here.
R. Trent Thompson joins EasyWater as Director, Digital Marketing As director of digital marketing, Trent is responsible for EasyWater’s online corporate brand and integrated marketing efforts worldwide.
Rod Trent joins 1E as Social media manager of social media and communities
Allan Gates joins Radian6 as Director of Public Relations oversee all PR activities for the social media monitoring company
Rebecca Rae joins PushON as Social Media Architect Building social media campaigns for both PushON and their external clients
Brian Watkins joins Symantec as Senior Social Media Manager corporate social media strategy
Shalabh Pandey joins Nokia as Head of earned media (South East Asia and Pacific) focusing on Strategic framework development for Social media marketing, Organic Search and content discovery, digital asset optimization and integrated engagement marketing.
Paul Fabretti joins Origin as Director of Digital Strategy Tasked with totally integrating social media into the agency digital offering to create a fully integrated digital offering.
Doug Merritt joins Baynote as CEO, Merritt will lead Baynote as the company begins a period of significant investment and rapid growth within the emerging personalization and digital marketing optimization sector.
Brad Hogenmiller joins Infuz as Director of Social Media drive internal and client social business strategies and tactics
Justin Levy joins Citrix Online as Senior Social Communications Manager Oversee social communications and strategy as part of the corporate communications team.
Lindsay Lebresco joins Lilly Pulitzer as Social Media Manager Manage the brand’s social media strategy & execution as well as all community management.
Yesterday, on a client call, I was asked if Quora was going to be relevant, and what businesses should do about it. I’m sure I’m going to get asked this more often, so I’ll put my answers down for all to see. If you’re not familiar with Quora, it’s a Q&A website where people can ask questions and others can answer and respond. If you’ve seen LinkedIn or Yahoo Answers or similar features from Community Platforms, and even Get Satisfaction to an extend, you’ll find a theme. Quora officially launched 6 months ago in a limited beta, and is founded by Facebook’s former CTO with backing by Benchmark capital, all positive signs for company vitality.
What makes Quora Notable:
A Social Network for Questions and Responses. Like a social network, individual are often putting their real identities and offer extensive features for surfacing the ideal responses up, these features are more advanced that the typical ‘vote up or down’ responses. The service is interesting, as it seeks to surface the most valuable and relevant answers, but I found that many of my questions didn’t get enough responses to warrant usefulness over every interaction. There’s a unique blend of checks and balances that allow for the question, summaries, and votes for answers to be surfaced, much like a wiki for Q&A.
An Advanced Set of Features That May Confuse New Users. The user interface offers as lot of features, but some which are complicated. As I started to probe around and ask questions, it wasn’t clear how to create a question (you actually have to put it in the ‘search field’, an action not native to most users). Secondly it wasn’t clear what the difference was between a question and a post (which is like a blog post). A few times, I found the service slow to load pages, likely due to the next point.
Technology Influencers are Currently Present, Spurring Growth. A certain type of technology and web influencer is present (see this frequently updated list), giving fuel to their early but rapid growth. I’ve seen this before. First with Twitter, Friendfeed and now Quora. While this group may not be an influencer group of CPG, Retail, and other industries, they are an early indicator of technology adoption. For example, in his natural penchant to find and evangelize new services, Robert Scoble, has become a poster boy for this product, much how he did for Friendfeed, further bolstering the growth. To really see if this is the service that will explode, we’ll need to watch how it shapes the SXSW experience, a conference I use as a bell weather for next-generation technologies
Like All Social Sites, It’s at Risk to be Gamed. Quality responses are likely to surface the highest, yet like all voting websites, search engines, and social networks that allow for followers and friends, those with more connections to the network will be able to assert more influence over content, visibility, and ability to ultimately sway others. The Quora service seeks to balance this out by trying to surface the most relevant content at the top. Yet, I assert that those with more popularity will always be able to influence their responses to the top, as you can read in this discussion here, here, and of course on Quora itself. (Update: Later, Robert proved my point as he was lashed out for gaming Quora)
How Businesses Should Respond to Quora:
Businesses Accounts Not Allowed…Yet. Now, If you’re involved in supporting your customers in the social web, either you’re a brand manager, or a community manager, your job is to go where customers are online and respond to them. While Quora doesn’t currently allow business profiles on the site (see how the Mashable account has been suspended) you should expect in the future that this would be a potential revenue stream for Quora to offer ‘buy outs’ for Q&A just as LinkedIn has done in the past.
At A Minimum, Monitor The Discussions. While corporate accounts are not currently allowed, personal accounts are, and most people who are in Quora work at a company and you see them answering questions about their company. Send your Community Managers (you have them, right?) into this emerging Q&A sites as they would other sites, to monitor and respond if questions go awry. Glean intelligence by creating an excel sheet and creating a list of the top asked questions related to your brand and use to fuel internal discussions around why these questions are asked, and cascade to the appropriate product and service teams to fix. Likely if one customer is asking questions in Quora, it’s an indicator others are too. The savvy will use this information to identify leads, such as those following the keywords related to your brand.
Advanced? Engage by Providing Helpful Responses. The advanced community managers should be responding to questions related to the lifestyle or workstyle of their brand to demonstrate thought leadership and ability to engage in discussions, adding value to the community. If questions about your product are answered on other websites, leave a summary respond and point to the original repository of correct information. Tip: I provided just a link to one of my blog posts where the answer was, and some users asked me instead answer in text, then link. As always, be sure to indicate where you work and that you are an employee of the company, as transparency gleans trust. The goal? To give the most helpful answers so they rise to the top of the question thread.
Update Jan 22: I met the Quora founders last night at the Techcrunch’s award show, Crunchies and asked him point blank “When will there be services for companies” and he told me that isn’t a direct focus right now (as they’ve indicated). Although he didn’t say it directly, we should assume ‘Corporate’ accounts won’t be available sometime until they have massive consumer adoption, and also because they have considerable funding to tie them over to build a great service. This further reinforces my recommendations to you above to monitor and respond now.
Companies Who Start With Implementation Are At Risk.
In a frantic hurry to catch up with customers, companies often jump into social media without having a plan, which is a classic “leap before you look” approach. Soon, they find they are unable to scale as more customer adopt the tools, and are not ready for a long term engagement with customers even around negative conversations. While companies feel compelled join the conversation now to respond to customers, they should not throw out business planning. To avoid this predicament companies should step back and approach social business like any other business program: with a plan.
Instead, Follow A Pragmatic Process.
Start with gaining intelligence, by first getting educated about how business is changed, then develop a plan that aligns with the needed resources. While many of these phases are an ongoing effort, and have overlap to each other, this process is a designed to help corporations who don’t know where to start to use as a checklist. Education, Research, Measurement should be ongoing efforts across the entire program, but in order to get started this pragmatic set of steps are an ideal way to start. This process described below isn’t a new one, it’s a classic pattern found by most seasoned program and project managers, but I’ve added specific ‘social business’ questions to assist.
Process: A Pragmatic Approach to Social Business
Questions to Answer
Where to find resources
Become informed on the impacts of social technology to your customers, employees, and comapny
How have customers changed their behaviors? How has business changed due to this power shift?
Conferences, Books, Analyst Firms, Thought Leaders, Webinars
To document the changes in your specific market, and tools
How do my customers and employees use social technology? How will they in the future? What tools are most used? What are my competitors doing?
Socialgraphics studies, Research firms, Marketing Research departments
Defines specific goals of what is to be accomplished
What are the business goals? How will we measure success? How does this support the company and customers mission?
A combination of aligning to your executive leadership, agency partners, and your corporate social strategist
Defines specific resources needed in what timeline
How much money do we need? What skills are needed? How much time is needed? When will we complete this? Which vendors do we need?
Agency partners, project managers, community managers
Initiating the plan
How will this be integrated into existing efforts?
Community managers, developers, agency partners, technology vendors.
Ongoing support of efforts
How will we keep this long term effort going forward? What resources and staff are needed for continual program growth?
Community manager, agency partners, technology vendors
How effective was our effort?
How well did we perform? What can we do better? What didn’t work, what worked and why?
Analytics and measurement groups, brand monitoring vendors, agency partners, and business intelligence providers
Improving the effort after understanding how it has been deployed
How can we improve this effort going forward? How can we integrate it?
All teams, but most importantly expand beyond the social team into the rest of digital marketing, events, and real world experiences.
*Caveat: Many of these items such as education, research, and measurement should not be started then abandoned, but instead are an ongoing part of the overall program.
To get started, print this post out and use as a checklist for each of your social business initiatives: communities, blogs, Facebook pages, and beyond. Ensure that your strategy and plan has each of these elements in line as well as answers the resources required for each. In our recent webinar in Getting Your Company Ready for Social Business we discuss the importance of having a plan.
I was fortunate to attend yet another Forbes exclusive CMO Summit in sunny Palm Beach Florida at the Breakers Resort. Last year in 2009, we heard from CMOs that they had plans to increase their spending in social media –and they were preparing for growth, and I’m here to discuss the trends heard direct from the mouths of CMOs at this private, high quality event. Here are the recurring trends I heard from this group of top CMOs in this private event.
Macro Trend: CMOs to plan for Growth and Prepare Investments
We kicked off the event from a macro viewpoint from Steve Forbes himself (I was pleased to enjoy a dinner with him, and learn from his global insights), noting how growth has started to occur, and how Chief Marketing Officers will shift away from planning to accelerating growth.
Yet are Struggling with a Myriad of Challenges
CMOs aren’t in the clear yet, they are plagued with a myriad of challenges such as loss of reputation, constant struggle deploying and measuring social media. A variety of jockeying still occurs within the CSuite as the CMO depends –yet has to prove efforts to CFO, and technology platforms from the CIO. Above all we heard that brands now must “stand for something” beyond just revenue numbers –positioning to the core of what a brand stands for must be revisited.
The Consumer Continues to Allude Marketers
The room certainly felt how the customers has changed, they use different communication channels, and want different forms of media. We heard that marketers are engaging customers with short form media and content referred to as “Snackable”. As consumers have shifted their habits to talking to each other using social tools, brands must be ready to tackle the tough conversations and be sure they have a “thick skin”.
Social Media, the Unanswered Medium
We heard from a variety of CMOs that have had successful –and unsuccessful — endevours with social media that they are beyond whether or not it matters, it was a recurring theme throughout the event. Yet what challenges CMOs with social channels is integrating it with other efforts like the TV spot, traditional advertising and the corporate website. CMOs are seeking how social media efforts can now be aggregated into the overall marketing dashboard –not a one off.
CMOs Investment in Innovation Pays off During Recession
Marketers recognize that while they’re going to anticipate growth, innovation was required to develop new techniques and harness the communication of others. In particular, As companies must act more human like, we heard that some marketers were enabling the rank and file employee (and alumni) to tell the story for them –beyond corporate communications and brand advertising.
Aspirational: Some CMOs yearn for the CEO role.
Despite CMO tenure lenthgting to 34.7 months from a mere 25 months, we heard that some CMOs seek to transcend their go to market role. We heard from a closing panel that some CMOs had a strong penchant to assume the Chief Executive role within a corporation and were given advice to sit on aviary boards of non-profits, marketing boards, then board of directors of other companies, as a pragmatic path to the CEO office.
These high level trends should be taken into consideration by the Corporate Social Strategist, as they start to define their program for the 2011 trends for social business.
Below is my research agenda (which includes my research team Christine Tran and Andrew Jones) for the customer strategy group here at Altimeter Group. I’ll cross post this from the ‘Research Tab’ on the upper right of my blog.
Research, A Subset of the Web Strategy Mission
While I’m best known as an “Industry Analyst”, I choose that title as that’s easiest to understand, overtime, I hope to do away with that title. Although research is the foundation for all my activities, recognize that it’s only part of how we help clients in their education, research, strategy, and planning. My career mission, (which is greater than any job I work at) is to help companies connect with their customers using technologies. This has been the motto of this blog for the last 5 years (obviously with a focus on web) and I’ll continue this over the course of my career.
About The Approach: Open Research
I don’t publish numerous reports, but instead, I publish fewer reports and focus on going deeper with greater market impact. Because we publish this under Open Research premise (for public consumption under creative commons) these reports spread further, and have more market impact and influence to improve the industry. (see slideshare numbers in links below). These research reports are expensive to do and take months to create, yet we’ve figured out a model that the more you help us spread the reports, the more we can do.
2011 Research Agenda: This research agenda was chosen based on what we heard from buyers (we have data to backup why these initiatives are important), and also mixing with our own insights on where the market is headed.
How to Spend on Social Business by Maturity (completed)
How companies build and manage Customer Advocacy Programs (underway, and workshop available)
How companies prepare internally for social business
Social Media Management Systems (SMMS) Vendor Comparison (Q3, 2011)
Social Media and Website Integration (Q2, 2011)
Social Stack Framework/2012 Social Business Trends/Forecast (Q4, 2011)
Note May 31st: I’ve removed mobile marketing, and added the first report, and updated dates)
Each of these research items represent advisory, speaking, and webinar opportunities for clients. Caveat: While the reports in Q1 and Q2 are locked in, this market changes so quickly so the Q3 and Q4 items may change to meet the needs of the market.
Do you want to brief us for this research?
Research requires ecosystem input, and If you want to brief us, please send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org and include in the subject line ‘Customer Strategy Research’, and we will review.
Below is a list of some of the previous research we’ve completed, please explore the links to see the vibrant discussions and market impact from each report.