As we continue to conduct research in the social business arena, it’s important to point out the trends in the space. In particular, a role that is so key to success for customer engagement (marketing and service) is the challenging (and often under-appreciated) community manager role. Lately, I’ve found a few trends that community managers (and their bosses) need to be aware of, as the space continues to grow.
Third Party Community Management Specialists On The Rise:
Here’s what we’ve been seeing based on a few briefings and interactions I’ve taken in the past few months:
- Recently, I spoke to a group of community managers at Weber Shandwick (invited by Stephanie Agresta) a communications agency, they work closely with their clients and are often representing the brand on behalf of the client who is unable to scale with limited resources. They also offer an interesting service called Firebell which simulates crises in a safe environment.
- A few days ago, I was briefed by Cap Gemini who offers BPO (Business Process Outsourcing, a term I’ve found most on the marketing side don’t know), and they are partnered with Attensity (software) to provide community management services and support.
- While many community platforms offer CM services, Liveworld (client) has focus here and, is one of the seasoned mainstays in community management and offers services (and software) to brands that seek community management services on demand.
- I’ve been briefed by Sean O’Driscoll at Ant’s Eye View and they offer a range of services at the strategy level for their clients but also offers community management and analytics services.
- A few weeks back, Chief Strategy Officer Peter Kim from Dachis group briefed Altimeter on their various strategy, implementation services, including community management as a managed service.
Altimeter Data Shows Staff and Agency Spend Top Spends
If you look at Altimeter spending data in Social Business, we already see a significant amount of revenues going to internal staff as well as agency folks, and it’s interesting to see how boutique social media agencies overtake traditional agencies in spending, I’m seeing an increase of community management staff be on demand from agency and third party side.
Expect Emerging Markets to Offer BPO Services, Outsourcing Some Activities
Last year, I went out to Manila to meet with the local web, agency, and business groups, and met some folks who work within the established BPO industry, most of these companies are known to manage the overseas call centers that you speak to for customer support. While I found they were not ready for ‘social support’ I’m starting to get briefings and hearing how they are gearing up to move into outsourced community management. Based upon my experience, I see a range of Community Management services, I’m open to adding to this, based upon your feedback:
Matrix: Four Levels of Community Management Services:
||What it looks like
||Often behind the scenes, they lead the overall strategy of how customers fit into multiple business units. Often does reporting and responsible for return on investment.
||This activity is likely to stay within the corporation as they have understanding of business goals, and key relationships
|3) Brand Representation
||Represents the story of the brand (and of course that of customers) and is often a primary face of the company in online communities on an ongoing basis.
||Often within the corporation, sometimes this role is being held by agency partners, such as “Jenny at Axe” who was a full time Edelman employee.
|2) Member Response
||Responds to frequent product inquiries such as “Do you have this or that?” or “Does anyone know how to X”
||Often this is being served by a Product Marketing Manager, Product Manager, or Customer service representative –all who have been trained and know where knowledge is. Like other customer service channels, expect more of this role to be shifted to third-parties.
|1) Moderation, Curation, Analytics
||Often behind the scenes, this group reviews content, and conducts triage for the content. They also may curate content and conduct basic reporting.
||Frequently, I’m hearing these skills are being leveraged by outsourced providers as they have minimal impact to customer relationships, I expect this to continue
Expect A Change in Community Management Sourcing:
The one constant of business is that it is always changing. Due to weak financial markets and inability for most to measure social business, scrutiny of resources is always top of mind, as a result, expect the following trends:
- An increase in offerings of community management services from “emerging” markets. While in many cases, I’ve found that community managers are often in the brand or agency side that are close to the corporate HQ, expect to see an increase of service providers from Philippines, India, and perhaps in South America. They’ve over a decade of experience managing customer service operations for brands on channels like phone –and can benefit to use channels accents won’t be a distraction to the customer experience.
- Brands to continue to outsource some community manager activities –while strategic skills stay in house. Expect that brands will outsource activities such as moderation/curation and often reporting, and rely on knowledge workers who have specific product information or key client relationships to stay close to the brand. In the case of a few companies who enter the “holistic” formation, they will enable thousands of employees to respond –spreading the role across the company.
- Backlash from embedded community managers –yet savvy will “skill up” now. While we see that the number of social media accounts a brand has to manage on the rise (data), this trend won’t be met without opposition, in fact, many voiced their concern on my Google+ page how outsourcing key relationships between brands and customers is what gets companies into hot waters in the first place. Yet, I expect many community managers to move into high echelon activities such as community programming on the content side, reporting and analytics, and learning to manage outsourced teams.
While I’m no longer in a community role (I used to be on brand side for social media), I wanted to provide my perspective from my vantage point. Lastly, remember that Community Manager Appreciation Day is every fourth Monday in Jan, every year (this coming Monday, Jan 24th 2012), and should be used to celebrate all community managers, whether on brand side, agency, or outsourced.
Update: Taking a briefing from Crowdflower that have some of these services, but it must go through their platform and API. They do crowdsourced BPO
Just 6 quarters in and this space continues to heat up with nearly 30 vendors. We’ve done over four due diligence calls with VCs in this space in last 30 days, and Altimeter are helping a couple of brands short list their vendors for RFP inclusions –brands know they need an enterprise solution.
This scope of this post is for the pure play vendors and does not include the numerous entrants that will explode into this space from the incumbent software category. To help move the industry forward, here’s my perspective on the space, all which I’m telling buyers as well as investors.
Matrix: Challenges and Opportunities Abound for Social Media Management Systems
-VC Funding for Rapid Growth
-Demand increases as brands adopt more accounts
-Overall small space, with 30 vendors, few enterprise incumbents, yet
-Low switching costs: easy to unplug now.
-Lack of market differentiation
-Rapidly changing data sets and APIs, hard to measure
-Commodity feature set
-M&A in incumbents move in, rapid exit.
-Integration yields new value
-Future state is customer intelligence platform or multi communications tool
-New entrant can ramp in 5 quarters, or incumbents can quickly build
-Incumbents will move in from many sectors: CRM, Brand Monitoring, Web Analytics, BI, Support Software, Email Marketing, Community Platform
Buyers Must Understand This Rapidly Changing Market
Corporations who are seeking to buy in this space must place their bets carefully, they need to factor in the following three future trends that are starting out now, buyers must:
- Expect only a handful of Enterprise class “Pure Plays” to Remain Standing. In most emerging technology categories there’s only enough room for three vendors: First, better, and different, and that will come to be true here as well. In the long run there will only be a handful of true enterprise pure plays that will stand the test of time. Compare to the community platform space where we see dominance from just two players now –the rest have gone into niche verticals, or platform integration strategies. Buyers must be very careful on who they choose now as unplugging these systems will be difficult as the ‘seats’ will roll out across the enterprise, and if your business units don’t like your choice, they will adopt another vendor without your agreement.
- Expect Pricing To Remain Low Until Brands Move Into Multiple Hub and Spoke “Dandelion”. Altimeter’s data indicates that the average enterprise company now has 178 corporate social media accounts,Vendors know to keep pricing low in this rapid market, given the number of entrants and VC injections, ‘growth’ is the primary goal. Buyers need to be aware that switching costs increase considerably as the company moves from centralized to hub and spoke to “dandelion”, and the SMMS tool spreads into many business units (see all five org models). Expect pricing strategies to change as your company moves into a higher adoption rate, and check contracts now. Seek packages for ‘all you can eat’ packages as your company moves into this model.
- Look Carefully at Partnerships and Investors to See How They Will Integrate. System integration will be a deciding factor for buyers, as most are realizing the need to integrate these systems into legacy support, email, CRM systems. In fact, Altimeter’s data indicates that integration is one of the top spends ($272k annually) for self reported advanced companies indicating that this will be the primary goal as the market integrates social as a horizontal. To understand, ask your vendors to show their roadmap, indicate their partnerships. Look further by understanding who their investors are, who will often broker partnerships and even foster M&A marriages. Lastly, ask about the SMMS’ platform strategy to connecting to existing APIs and how they’ll offer their own for partners to use.
To learn more, read all my posts tagged Social Media Management Systems.
Above: Click image to download the Webinar Checklist Sheet on Slideshare.
Webinars continue to be an important way companies connect to customers for education, marketing, sales, and customer support purposes. Yet most companies relegate these tasks to junior staff at the last minute, forgetting a key number of crucial steps and increase risk. While tools like Cisco’s Webex, GoToMeeting, Adobe Connect, and Microsoft LiveMeeting and Slideshare Zipcast, (Or Virtual events with On24, INXPO, Unisfair ) offer a variety of technologies, they don’t provide a strategy or a comprehensive checklist on the many components needed.
Get to know the Ten P’s
Master the Ten P’s, and notice that steps one through seven are actually before the actual webinar performance. The Ten Ps include: 1) Philosophy, 2) Purpose, 3) Planning, 4) Professionals, 5) Programming of Content, 6) Promotion, 7) Preparation and Practice, 8> Performance “Showtime”, 9) Pursuit, 10) Post Mortem
Detailed Guide for Download: How To Successfully Produce A Professional Grade Webinar, Webcast, or Teleconference
- Download this excel sheet from slideshare by clicking on the embed below.
- Review with your team, then assign team members and dates
- Place this document in a central location so all team members can see, and conduct regular meetings to complete checklist
If you’re in the marketing or sales arena, the 9th P is crucial. Remember, once the event ends, your job is just starting and you must focus on “Pursuit” for sales followups, don’t just throw a lead least over the transom to sales.
If you enjoyed this document, please see How to Successfully Moderate A Conference Panel, or consider me as a professional speaker for your real world and online event. On a side note, I try not to put up any barriers up for lead generation (registration forms, sales call), I let as much go as possible, and make it opt-in. If they want you, they know how to contact you in today’s hyper-connected world.
Corporations must invest in at least five types of Social Media training for the corporation, they include: training for executives, for the core team “Center of Excellence”, for business units, for rank and file employees and often for partners.
Our research has indicated that 37% of companies have indicated that internal training is the second highest internal priority, budgets for training remain relatively small at about $23,000 for the average annual spend in 2011. In some cases agencies and vendors are providing training at low or no cost as a loss-leader in order to gain additional business –savvy corporations eat up this free training as they’re hungry for answers.
Savvy corporations should develop a refined social business education curriculum that’s integrated with new hire orientation, as well as existing employees. The curriculum must incorporate at least five types of training for success:
Matrix: Five Types of Training are often Required
||What no one tells you
||This group can make or break your program. You must educate them early to obtain resources. Get an executive sponsor first that will champion your program. Tip: They talk a lot about customers.
||Use market data including customer adoption numbers, competitive benchmarking, and business cases with ROI formulas. Bring case studies and case examples, but keep the program focused on business objectives
||Focus on business goals –not technologies.
The worst thing you can do is get into a tools discussion and focus on follower and fan count.
Read Groundswell and provide each executive with Open Leadership, written by our founder.
|Core team “Center of Excellence” aka the Hub
||This centralized group is a corporate functiona that enables business units to deploy social programs. Learn more about the Center of Excellence programs emerging at many companies.
||They are primarily program managers but must be on the front line of emerging technology in order to educate BUs They require ongoing training on new technologies and should attend conferences, workshops, webinars. They should also learn from their peers in other companies by joining Marketing Profs, WOMMA, Forrester Councils, and SocialMedia.org
||This group requires ongoing training as the tools are constantly changing. Ask tech vendors and agencies to provide free training at least twice a year in a show and tell.
|Business Units “Stakeholders”
||These groups are often located in the ‘Spokes’ of the corporation and can be HR, Support, Product, or Geos. They may not be experts at social media –but they know their business goals.
||They must be educated on the common resources provided by the Center of Excellence which includes policy, process, measurement tools, KPI frameworks. They should be educated on new technologies and should learn case examples.
||An easy entry to getting them involved is to start with them sharing what they’ve already done in a brown bag session. Tip: Don’t penalize them for failures or policy infringments, instead get them to teach each other.
|Associates, Colleagues, Employees
||The rank and file employee can consist of any employee that may be using social media in their work lives. This can include sales, support staff, professional services, or even retail level employees. In today’s modern world, assume that even if Facebook is banned from your corporate network employees are using Facebook from their mobile phones.
||They must understand governance such as social media policies, legal policies, ethics policies, disclosure best practices. Furthermore they should know who to contact if they have immediate questions. Lastly, they should be aware of the social media triage process for customer complaints.
||Regular employees that use social on a regular basis must know policies, basic triage, and primary contacts within the Center of Excellence. Don’t forget your new employees, this must be integrated in new hire orientation.
|Partners, Resellers, Franchise Owners
||This group of your suppliers, resellers, dealers, channel, franchise owners and beyond are responsible for your success in your ecosystem
||They must understand the rules and policies of what’s preferred and what’s not. For example can Franchiese partners create their own social media accounts and represent the brands? If so, what are the requirements? What content will the corporate brand provide to partners? Will content be syndicated for reuse and repurpose
||In most cases, education programs will start at basic 101 levels, provide them practical education on why social matters and teach them how to use SMMS tools and how to engage and dialog. Above all, provide scalable resources to them that help them roll this out in their already busy schedules.
Build a Long Term Learning Program –Not A One Off
- Use the carrot –not the stick, provide certification programs. Start with simple brown bag lunches where various teams are invited to share and praised for being open and social. Don’t shut them down, instead reward them for participating. Sophisticated brands like Intel already offer a training program like Digital IQ that offer online training for employees, and a certification program. Edelman offers internal agency folks a multi-tiered training program called a “Social Media Black Belt” program read interview with Phil Gomes.
- Provide employees with remote access education to watch replays. While in person training and learning is a valuable process ensure that training modules are available online on the intranet and available to employees on a regular basis. This provides employees with an ongoing internal content library. Encourage employees who attend conferences to share their conference and trip notes in this centralized location growing the annotated knowledge base.
- Provide a recurring learning program. Social is causing a cultural shift inside of companies and as a result recurring training is going to be required. As a result, provide an ongoing learning program with regular internal and external trainers that can help move the corporation along quickly. Slate dedicated program budget towards this program, and if you’ve an internal education academy tap into their ongoing resources.
Love to hear your tips on how companies are learning, kindly leave a comment below, these are just based upon my observations helping companies roll these programs out.
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.
Often, our industry can appear complicated, and yearns for simplicity. One such technique to glean simplicity is to develop frameworks which the corporate social strategist can then apply to achieve their business goals. I’ve been working on this “ROI Pyramid” framework for a few months now, and am ready to share in greater detail than on my keynote at LeWeb (slides and video) where I introduced this to the public for the first time.
[The novice provide executives with engagement data --causing themselves to be stuck in the churn of obtaining more followers and fans --without a clear business goal]
140 social strategists around the globe at enterprise class size companies indicated their top internal objectives for 2011 is to “Create ROI Measurements”
Measurement, the Number One Priority, Is Important to Social Business
In our recent research report on the buyer of social business, (read research report: Career Path of the Corporate Social Strategist) we learned that measurement is one of the most important aspects to social business, in fact the top priority stated by 48% of corporations was “Creating ROI Measurements” for internal programs, (see data).
- Experimental mediums require proof they work. The corporate social strategist is constantly being challenge as they grasp more budgets to prove their efforts and teams are making a difference. In addition to proving these new mediums are worth the time spent, the corporate social strategist is being challenge by their peers in incumbent positions who may be giving up effort and budget to support social efforts.
- Down markets put greater scrutiny on spending. As spending across the board reduces in a recession, focus on proving new efforts is required by all parties involved. Those that can effectively measure improvements can make the business case they can truly obtain more budget.
- The Corporate Social Strategist Must Develop Frameworks Now. Most corporations are already forming in the “Hub and Spoke” formation (see data) which means a small cross-functional team is helping a variety of business units. Establishing a standard way of measuring now is important before corporations move into “Dandelion” where measurement strategy fragments into spokes.
[The seasoned professional provides executives with business metrics first. They know fans and followers aren't a business goal, but what you do with them is]
Yet, Measuring Social Media Is Challenging
While we learned that measurement is the key, we found (see data in slide 20) that 65% of corporations are using engagement data as the top used metric, with only 22% using product revenue as a metric.
- Excess variety of data options, and disparate platforms. Due to the thousands of applications, dozens of social networks, and millions of combinations corporations are stymied by how to make sense of this disparate space. In addition to the variety of choices to deploy, each has a different set of ways to measure from fans, engagement, followers and the like.
- Technical limitations vast in a fast changing environment. As if the choices weren’t staggering enough, there are significant challenges to measuring. Corporations are unable to apply web analytics tools on third party sites they don’t have ownership on, and therefore are often relegated to manually counting data, or relying on one of the 150 brand monitoring platforms to scrape it for them.
- Hard to tie engagement to bottom and top line efforts. In addition to being a new program, understanding of this disruptive set of technologies causes friction. Additionally, social media is frequently known for driving awareness (second to ads) through WOM then through customer engagement through interactions –yet rarely tied to transactions or ecommerce which often occur on a disparate platform.
Apply the Social Media “ROI Pyramid” In Your Measurement Strategy
(Above: First, recognize there are three types of role, all who need different types of information about your social business efforts)
(Above: Secondly, understand the high level types of data they need in order to be actionable)
(Above: Finally, assemble this information using the metrics and creating formulas. The above are just examples, as customization within every corporation is required)
Matrix: Understand the Social Media ROI Pyramid
||Who it’s for
||How to generate
||What no one tells you
||Executives, and everyone else who supports them, which of course, is everyone.
||This is a roll up formula of Social Media Analytics. Use tracking software or referral traffic to infer how customer engagement moves down marketing funnel. Existing CSAT methods should also incorporate social channels, and measure a sample of sentiment from customer communities. Cost reduction is a formula based on reduced costs and time in these lower-cost channels.
||The pyramid is smaller at top as their are less metrics to give to busy executives. There’s really only three: increased top line, reputation, and reduced costs. Compare these lower cost channel to existing marketing efforts to get additional budget, and benchmark over time.
|Social Media Analytics
||The Corporate Social Strategist and the internal stakeholders and internal clients (leaders of the ‘spokes’ in the hub and spoke model)
||This is a formula based on Engagement Data (the tier below), there are no industry standards, so pick one and benchmark over time
||We’ve identified there are 16 analytics, but there are many more in existence, you’ll have to create these formulas on your own
||Those who are deploying social media: community managers, developers, designers, agency partners, IT.
||This data is already created by many social tools, and a variety of analytics are already available to gather this info from brand monitoring to the analytics provided by Facebook and Twitter and others. Don’t forget to include traditional web analytics. Read our research report on Social Marketing Analytics to learn about the existing formulas.
||Don’t ever give this to executives until you’ve first given them business metrics or expect many months focused on ‘more followers’ without a business purpose.
(Above: Here’s a single slide with all three columns of info on it which you can use as an instant reference)
Five Steps To Start Using the ROI Pyramid Now
Corporations must develop a standardized way to measure first based on business goals. Next developing a standard way that the entire company and agency partners can think about measurement is key in 2011 as social business will fragment to every customer touchpoint.
- Start with a Business Goal in Mind. Expect significant challenges to occur if your social media efforts don’t have a business goal, so clearly you should first start with a purpose. It’s easy to spot when this happens as the goal will be on getting ‘more fans and followers’ rather than moving the business needle forward. Start with a clear business goal and define ‘what success looks like’ or don’t start at all.
- Give the Right Data to the Right Roles. Not all roles require the same types of data, and be sure to give the right type of data to the right segment. While all the formulas of the pyramid should be accessible by the corporation, understand the viewpoints needed from each vantage point.
- Frequency and Quantity of Data Varies in Pyramid Tiers. Recognize that executives need reports less frequently that the deployment teams, hence their size on the pyramid. Also, there is more data needed at the bottom tiers than at the top, remember the top tiers are roll-up formulas from bottom tiers.
- Know the Customization of Formulas is Required. This industry lacks any form of standards, so don’t wait years for an industry wide formula to appear as it likely won’t even apply directly to your business needs. Invest the time to create the social media analytics needed to support your business goals now, which you should expect will take massaging over a period of time.
- Benchmark Over Time and Cascade to All Spokes. The specific numbers aren’t as important as the trend lines over months, quarters, and years, yet in order to obtain these, you must start now. Looking at how these numbers trend over time will provide more insight to the teams involved.
I look forward to hearing how you implement this framework in your measurement efforts, let’s open up the discussion in the comments below, please share this with your teams, agencies, partners, and staff. Thanks to Christine Tran and Asha for design help. Feel free to use these slides, flickr images, just provide attribution to Altimeter Group.
Most Companies Lack a Positioning Strategy
Companies must be deliberate in their positioning efforts –rather than rely on the same way that’s been done in the past. Frequently, I meet with young technology startups that focus purely on the technology and features –and completely miss what problem they are solving. Similarly, I meet with large brands that are positoning at the brand and product level –yet forget to connect with their customers in their existing lifestyle. I’ve used this framework in a variety of client engagements, and want to release the high level here, for you to use in your positioning strategy.
Positioning Matrix: Lifestyle, Pain, Brand, Product, or Features
||When to use
||An effort positioned at the the desires and experiences in the buyers life –not connected to products
||Works well in regulated industries (Wells Fargo, Amex, have deployed in this way), or companies who sell component products. Great for deploying at a new market when you’re trying to introduce a new concept or offering. Also strong at clinching competitive marketing space.
||While an ‘associative’ effort it may not be closely tied to the products and not drive prospects down the marketing funnel.
||Focusing on the trials, tribulations, and pain in a buyers life or work.
||It’s key to pointing out to customers the challenges that may exist in their life, then quickly move into product positioning. Use this to connect to a prospect in the wider mouth of the marketing funnel, this is often a first hook.
||If a company only positions against pain they may not move customers down the funnel, quickly follow up with value statement and product introduction.
||Positioning directly on a company’s brand, much how Coke does it.
||A company that has an existing, established, brand promise can lean on this reputation as a standing point. Standing on a brand promise –and the associated tagline –works well in reputation driven industries.
||Positioning against brand works for Coke and Pepsi, but it’s required millions over decades to have this level of recognition –most cannot hinge entire effort on this level
||Focusing on the product itself, such as discussing a new car –but not it’s features.
||Use when your brand is established and releasing a new product set, use this level to sub segment into a new product category.
||Many tech vendors that brief me start at this level but forget to focus on ‘why’ this product exists as they’ve built a company around a technology –instead of around a customer need
||Focusing on features such as speeds and feeds, this positioning competes at sub product level.
||Used to compare in a crowded market when there are established players and little deviation at brand or product level. Often used in consideration and buy stage of a product.
||This is granular and may not be effective in new markets, or markets where consumers only care about the outcome of buying the product.
Use this Framework
- Use value statements in your positioning –at each level. Positioning at each level still requires a value statement that answers “What’s in it for me?” for example, lifestyle is the opportunity to connect, gauge, or interface with peers.
- Use all levels in a coordinated effort. This framework isn’t about using only one level at a time, but the sophisticated marketer will deploy all levels and know how to amp up one of the other at the right moment.
- Funnel your prospects through the phases. The savvy will know how to shift prospects to the various levels at the right moment, and customers will arrive into the marketing funnel at different levels –know how to advance them to the right level at the right time.
At a recent engagement, I was asked to list out the benefits and risks for companies to participate and not, as you know, from our research on how companies connect with customers, the Engagement DB research found there are four types of companies: Wallflowers, Butterflies, Selectives and Mavens –clearly not all are doing it.
The scope of this matrix “Social Business” is when a company and their employees engage with customers in the social web, where customers, competitors, and prospects are already talking. In 2010, it’s assumed the conversation in your market in the social web is already happening.
Like all investments, there are risks and rewards, use this matrix to help decision makers understand the downsides and upsides by participating.
For more like this, see all my posts tagged ‘matrix’. Feel free to use this matrix in your work, kindly provide attribution.
Cowritten by Chris Saad (@chrissaad), and Jeremiah Owyang (@jowyang).
Situation: Twitter’s new redesign advances their user experience
Twitter has announced a new redesign today, yet by looking at the news, there hasn’t been a detailed breakdown of these two leading social networks. Overall, Twitters new features start to resemble some features of a traditional social network, beyond their simple messaging heritage. We took the key features from both social website and did a comparison and voted on the stronger player.
Above: Click image to see notes about the new Twitter features.
Comparative Matrix: Feature Showdown Between Facebook and the New Twitter
|1) Content Stream
||Intelligent stream provides relevant content based on Facebook’s proprietary algorithm called “Edgerank” that surfaces more relevant information than a straight ‘stream of data’. Participating in a conversation, will propagate that conversation to friends of friends
||Twitter does not provide any intelligent filtering or sorting in the default feed, instead it’s sorted by reverse chronological order. Although filters and lists are available, these require manual setup.
||Our call? Facebook. Facebook’s content strategy and feed (the main attraction for a social utility, is far superior than Twitter’s rudimentaryam
|2) Discussion and Reaction Management
||Facebook’s conversation features thread the discussion and comments inline in the stream, keeping conversations in context
||Users have to click on a tweet to see the reactions to that tweet in the newly expanded right column. Includes retweets and @ replies. Other participants that are not following each other do not see each others’ comments before participating.
||Our call? Facebook. FB’s sophisticated newsfeed model encourages peer to peer conversation, is different than Twitter’s broadcast model which encourages asynchronous responses.
|3) Profile Features
||Facebook is slowly reducing the profiles features by removing heavyweight features like ‘boxes’ and ‘canvas apps’ streamlining the experience.
||Is beefing up their profile pages with ‘follow recommendations’ and ‘you both follow’ features, in order to encourage more interaction. Their dead simple features make it easy to self express, and offer a limited profile
||Our call? Twitter. While both these players are both meeting in the middle, with Facebook getting lighter, and Twitter is becoming more robust, Facebook’s features are excessive to most users, and simplicity trumps.
|4) Application Platform
||Facebook has treated the platform as a proper product with developer relations (although often with challenges) viral distribution of the newsfeed, and developer ecosystem relationships. The application features are designed for third parties to quickly integrate using tabs. Over the past 12 months, Facebook has aggressively changed their strategy to encourage developers to spread the APIs to third party sites (vs only embedded on profile pages) , expanding Facebook’s colonies to the open web.
||This loose strategy has been adhoc with simple APIs without formal development initiative with no hooks to integrate apps into Twitter.com. In fact, Twitter only recently hosted their own developer conference this year. The relationship between Twitter and the developer community remains torrid, as they buy or build features from the developer community. For example, the latest release today, threatens the functionality of many existing clients.
||Our call? Facebook. FB is focused on a land grab for third party real estate, Twitter appears to be cannibalizing their own B2C developer ecosystem.
|5) Multi Media Integration
||Media, such as video, is loaded and embedded right in the stream, as well as in stream playing. Third parties that inject media into the stream will embed into the service at will.
||Twitter’s new media features requires users to click and open separate screen –although embedded media plays in panel. A business dev relationship must be established for media to be detected from target URLs. For example, only partners of Twitter that have approved media will be able to play embedded media in the Twitter stream.
||Our call? Facebook. Facebook makes it easy for users to consume media, and for publishers to spread it. They make it easy.
|6) Location Platform
||Facebook recently launched ‘Places’ feature and data, that allows for users to checkin upon arrival at a locale. This is manual and opt-in behavior for each checkin.
||Twitter offers opted in users offers each Tweet a location payload. Each Tweet is an implicit checkin.
||Our Call? Twitter. Twitter is more lightweight and could have more location data per opt-in user, hopefully increasing context in the future.
|7) User Experience Design
||Facebook’s continues to streamline their formerly confusing experience, yet limits the amount of self-expression beyond text and media content.
||Twitter remains simply, but allows personalization in the form of color palettes and BG images, yet lacks depth in profile descriptions (interests, networks, and other personal info).
||Our call? Twitter. In the world of information overload, Twitter now has a nice balance between self-expression and simply to use and consume profile information
||Facebook: 4 wins.
Twitter: 3 wins.
Our Verdict: While Facebook Leads, Twitter’s Redesign Strengthens as a Challenger.
Facebook’s features offer a more robust user experience, and they have a longer history of developing the right relationships with media, developers, and their users. Twitter, a rapidly growing social network has launched a series of new features (described by the founder as “smooth like butter”) that provide users with a snappy experience and enhanced features.
Twitter is Evolving Beyond Just A Simple Messaging Systems Into a Full Fledged Social Network. We tallied the important features of this launch and to their overall expansion strategy and have concluded that Facebook’s features continue to hold dominance over Twitter, despite the noticeable improvements. While we don’t expect that Twitter wants to become ‘another Facebook’ they should play to their strengths and remaining nimble and lightweight yet allowing for developers and content producer to better integrate into their system. One thing is clear, Twitter is enhancing their simple service with more features, which moves towards the feature rich experience Facebook offers.
CMOs must approach social technologies in an integration fashion
Although social technologies have been capturing marketers time for over four+ years in corporate, they’ve often been operated in a silo as experimental, or a separate deployment from traditional marketing. Yet the savvy marketing leader knows that reaching customers is increasingly becoming challenging as their touchpoints continue to fragment.
To reach the fragmented customer, marketers must apply an integrated approach. As an industry, we should dispel notions that social marketing and it’s subsequent tools should operate in a silo, but instead sit horizontally in the marketing organization as they impact so many different forms of marketing tactics, approaches, and mindsets. Furthermore, this has considerable impacts as social media organizations are founded and lead as they approach hub and spoke models to serve a variety of internal clients, as well as connect with customers in real time.
CMO Matrix: How Social Technology Must Integrate with Traditional Marketing, a Horizontal Approach
||Why It’s Important
||Opportunities of Social Technology
||You can’t effectively reach consumers till you know about them, and market research is a key function for any corporation. For some time, market research was limited to focus groups, consumer testing, and survey based methodology. This includes both traditional marketing research groups as well as competitive intelligence groups.
||Now, with the advent of social technologies, at least three forms of opportunity have emerged: 1) Using brand monitoring technology to harvest what consumers are already saying in social channels, 2) Harnessing the crowd to find out their real time reactions, see how Communispace and Passenger have done this. 3) Using innovation tools like Salesforce Ideas, UserVoice, GetSatisfaction to build products in real time with consumers.
||The corporate website is a source of product factual information, and pro-brand materials. This is the master repository of a brand, it’s products, and services.
||Social technologies are being integrated in three phases: 1) Standalone tools like communities are built, but not integrated, 2) Social login systems like FB connect and Open ID are increasing conversion rates 3) Social context is being developed so content is served up on the fly from social data. See my keynote at Gilbane’s CMS conference on social and corporate website integration.
||Marketing must influence internal stakeholders, including sales, field marketing, and product teams. The intranet is a key internal repository of information, this would also include any associated email communications.
||Social technologies are being deployed internally like PBWorks, Socialcast, Basecamp, and Yammer without the consent of IT. The opportunity to use these tools to allow teams to find experts, information regardless of region or time are ripe.
||Email, one of the primary forms of digital communication is often a highly trusted source when customers have opt-in. When you look closely, email is a social network, see how Google wants to do it. In fact, the root information requirement for Twitter and Facebook is a verified email.
||Email marketing companies are starting to offer ‘sharing’ features so recipients are encouraged to quickly share the information with their peers, as well as offering brands SMMS systems to manage this information. Expect the Facebook inbox and email marketing to quickly merge in coming years,
||A mature practice that attracts buyers and prospects during their core information seeking phase, SEM is critical to reaching the information starved through well placed sponsored information and advertisements
||We’re also seeing an influx of social advertisements appear as the social graph is infused in search results. Example: We’re starting to see the content our friends recommend in search engine results, and Facebook’s foray with social ads.
|Search Engine Optimization
||Fine tuning websites so they are the first choice in organic search results is both a science and art by experienced practitioners.
||Social media tools, esp blogs and ratings and review sites like Yelp score high in organic search due to many incoming links and freshly updated content.
||Often the bulk of most marketing budgets, advertising is key in many phases of the customer journey, in particular driving awareness and consideration.
||Like SEM listed above, advertising can become more efficient in the future by tapping into social profile data (who is this person) and their social graph (who do they trust) to serve up relevant content. As Facebook spreads their features all over the web (analysis), expect a new form of advertising to appear based on social data. Twitter’s “Sponsored Links” bodes similar experimentation
||Marketers drive associative branding and qualified leads through sponsorship opportunities.
||Social helps in two specific ways: New influencers have emerged such as ‘Mom and Dad bloggers” creating more niched inventory with deeper engagement to sponsor. Furthermore, all traditional sponsorship activities can use social marketing for further engagement.
||While over a decade old, online shopping has continued to be primary low cost driver for the brick and mortar company.
||The mainstay integration has been consumer ratings and reviews from the aggregation of the crowd, often powered by vendors like Bazzarvoice. Yet expect new forms of eCommerce to evolve as an individuals social graph is connected to eCommerce tools. See how Levi’s has done it, and attend our conference, the Rise of Social Commerce.
||While in it’s infancy, marketers may use these tools to connect with consumers as they are on a specific location, during a certain part of the day, with greater context.
||Now, as consumers indicate their location and time while on the go, marketers may reach them using a variety of contextual information, advertisements, and harnessing what their friends have done before them in the same locations. See how Starbucks sponsored mayorship in Foursquare to increase both loyalty and WOM.
||The pioneering mediums in the electronic communication realm, these mediums provide content in a one way format.
||Programs (radio hosts, newscasters, and stations) are using social technologies to infuse a two way relationship with listeners by finding new content in social channels (Watching Twitter) as well as integrating the voices of the audience, and empowering communities to build around them. Perhaps more importantly, this creates new forms of inventory for these mediums to enable brands to sponsor or get involved with.
||From newspapers, magazines, to flyers, nothing creates an experience like holding physical paper in front of you.
||Nearly all of these publications have associated social media properties, from Facebook fan pages, to supplementary blogs. In fact, if paper adoption continues to decrease, these social tools provide a low-cost method of publishing and interacting with their audiences. Magazines like Dwell have launched thriving online communities and nearly all national and many global newspapers have adopted social media in their online resources.
|Field, Persona, Channel, and Regional Marketing
||Marketing teams are often segmented by regions, or to sit with sales units in the field, or even to target specific consumer types, like moms. This segmented marketing approach is key for deeper context in approaching unique markets.
||Like in other forms, don’t expect a one-size-fits all approach, each audience type will have a different penchant for social media technologies, which we call socialgraphics. Expect a tailored approach using social technologies to emerge for each of these groups as you reach different audiences.
Executive Recommendations: Shatter the silo and integrate social across all marketing efforts now. The above matrix demonstrates that social technologies are already being integrated in the overall mix, yet marketing leadership is at a standstill on how to integrate. Approach the space in a pragmatic method, follow these three steps:
- Start by organizing your company in a Hub and Spoke, Dandelion, or Centralized model. Our research shows that companies are organizing in at least five different models. Whether you have a centralized team or a hub and spoke, develop a way for an internal team to assemble (often cross-functional) to share and learn, then serve internal stakeholders. Companies must know the 43+ points to get social business ready, watch our no-cost webinar and slides to learn more.
- Cascade training and encourage sharing to reduce risk and decrease time to market. Social technologies are still new and come with high degrees of risk as brands continue to have misteps in a new form of marketing. Yet to reduce risk, empower those that have already experimented to share with others, reward those that quickly fail and get back up, and provide a constant stream of training from external partners.
- Require your marketers to integrate social technology up front –not as last minute additions. Marketers are not in the mindset of combining social technologies in existing events, campaigns, or traditional marketing. Instead of being reactive and adding this as a last minute consideration, enforce a line item in marketing plans to include social integration up front.
I look forward to your additional comments, perhaps I’ve missed some key integration touchpoints, please leave comments below.