Large companies are struggling internally to support customers in social channels. Why? It’s a long term commitment, goes against existing support avenues, and is a major cultural shift. I want to kick off an opportunity to tell your story of customer service, why? If support in these mediums is making your life easier as a customer, it’s important you provide companies with this feedback, so they can add to their internal business case. If you’re a customer, and have been supported, service, helped, or thanked by a company and their employees in social channels, here’s your chance to tell them:
It’s easy, go to Twitter, and Tweet to the brands that have helped you, and tag it #socialsupport. You can see the river of mentions coming in now.
If you work for a brand monitoring or listening platform company and want to run a report for me, I’ll be happy to post your data findings after a quick review. While there are very quantitative ways of measuring improved customer satisfaction, reduced response time, and lowered support costs, there’s nothing like good ol’ fashioned qualitative feedback.
Social Software Is In the “Cambrian Explosion” Era
Last weekend, I visited New York’s Museum of Natural History and Sciences. I’m always fascinated by the dawn of life, and often draw a lot of parallels from the era of many new organisms and how many evolved and many who didn’t adapt to their environment. In fact, the metaphor works very well in the fast moving social software space, as we’re currently in the Cambrian Explosion, where many new species are appearing (I’ve mapped over 100 community platform vendors, and E&Y has found over 125 social monitoring firms). The barriers are so low for entry, and with a recession in place, we’re seeing an explosion of new firms. Those that combine and create new value evolve and will eventually move to land, those that don’t make the right partnerships or develop sophisticated solutions for enterprise buyers will become the extinct “Trilobites”
Community Platforms and Listening Platforms Combine To Create SCRM Suites
Lithium, a community platform, has announced their acquisition of social media measurement company Scoutlabs. This combination paves the way for social point ware software to evolve into a greater suite of enterprise social software which can evolve to Social CRM. Expect more of these acquisitions and partnerships to occur over the coming year. Ray Wang, my business partner, maps out what the Lithium and Scoutlabs acquisition means.
Next Generation Consulting Firms Will Rival Complacent Incumbents
On a similar note, Dachis Group, which has a hefty war chest of $50mm backed by Austin Ventures, has made some strategic acqustions in the social business arena. Aside from key hires from Forrester Research (like Peter Kim, Tom Cummings, and Cynthia Pflaum) have joined the team along with Caroline Dangson, Dion’s enterprise consulting group, Xplane, Headshift, and most recently the Enterprise 2.0 Adoption Council, a group of end user pioneers. This star team has the makings of a next generation consulting firm, and can have a powerful impact as they go to market.
Many Social Software Providers Will Become Extinct “Trilobites” –Avoid Them Now
This is just the start, expect more consolidation, and market changes, to protect your bets from investing in a Trilobite, it’s important you pay attention to the trends at hand.
- Continued acquisition of social point products to build SCRM Suites. Expect more VC funding into this space for point product social software firms to acquire supplementary vendors to increase user base, and increase the number of SCRM use cases. Lithium wasn’t the first, Jive Software acquired Filtrbox, a social monitoring firm, but they didn’t have the large enterprise footprint that Scoutlabs currently does. We also saw Twitter client CoTweet be acquired by direct/email marketing firm Exact Target. Tip: Watch for the investment pattern at the VC level to see how they pull their portfolio together. It’s commonly known that VCs will make introductions between their portfolio investments and encourage them to partner and eventually align.
- Expect a new class of social business consulting firms to emerge. Dachis Group has assembled the right team, and has first mover opportunity to beat McKinsey, Deloitte, and system integrators to the punch. They have thought leadership, research, strategy, implementation, and support. What’s missing? Expect them to acquire or build an enterprise software suite that connects disparate systems together (much like Salesforce Chatter). Despite their huge talent draw, their biggest challenge won’t be going to market (it’s mainly green playing field) but the internal culture strife as many independent voices, egos, and styles are forced to work together. I must say, if they can pull it off, then they can help their customers with the same problem.
- Don’t expect a Social CRM suite to emerge that “does it all”. Expect many vendors to line up behind the Social CRM monikor, but don’t expect them to be successful. In fact, as a buyer, you must ask them “how many times have you integrated your existing systems with a SCRM system” to find out how successful they really are. Use The Altimeter Research Report on Social CRM to find out about the roadmap, use cases, and vendor short list. We published it at no-cost under creative commons, and it’s already received over 41k views (says slideshare).
To learn more about Social CRM, join the SCRM pioneers Google Group, where we’re having an active and thriving discussion on pain points, use cases, early practices, and even guest speaker interviews (like Comcastcares). Disclosure: Lithium, Jive are clients of Altimeter, we hope that you’ll trust us more by our disclosure policy.
Left: American Eagle’s flagship retail store in Times Square allows shoppers to post their photo to the marquee for their “15 seconds of fame”, you can even read how some shoppers, like Bryan, from Birmingham, posts his photo for the whole world to see.
Smorgasbord of Digital at Times Square Makes it Hard to Stand Out
After finishing my keynote at PRSA, I’m here in New York’s Times Square, and witnessed first hand the closing of the square yesterday during a false alarm bomb scare (it was just an abandoned cooler, thankfully). After the Square was reopened a few hours later by NY’s finest, I got to sit down, and take in the digital sights and sounds. Although I’ve been here many times, Times Square is an amazing experience, no where else in the world can you see so many logos, brands, and ads bombarding you in full color digital experience. It was interesting as I took in the many logos that have been my clients over the years, and watched as even caused the night sky to feel as if it were dusk.
American Eagle’s “15 Seconds of Fame,” Attracts A Crowd
One particular marquee took my fancy, the American Eagle screen. This massive screen has two facing sides, giving a multi angle experience in blazing LED color boards. In between the “Summer of Love” campaigns showing scantily clad pubescent teens surfing and dancing on the beach, they showed how regular consumers (most are non-models, as you might guess) get the opportunity to go into the store, and have their picture taken in front of a beach setting and then be displayed in front of millions of people as they walk by. You can read about the details by agency R/GA and from Bloomberg. I’m going to assume innovation of digital screens will start right here in Times Square, then spread to other venues. This personalized experience allows actual customers and tourists to display their picture along with a short message to others. We should expect this will eventually evolve to allow personalized messages in store to appear.
Expect In-Store Screens To Evolve from Static To Customized and Social
What could the future hold? Expect stores to ask you to “Connect using Facebook Connect” to your mobile device as you step in the store. By doing so, you can receive customized recommendations on your phone and on digital displays. Expect that your friends that have been here, will digitally indicate which clothes are right for you. Expect digital displays to recommend what’s best for you based on what your friends ‘like’ (see how Levi’s is doing it on the web) then spread to in store. While far fetched, see this video of how Cisco expects to improve the buying experience. What about the risks? Expect privacy to be less important to millennials who don’t mind sharing their experience with others, and early prototypes to show customized content –without revealing a person’s full identity on an in-store screen.
Get Ready as Digital Displays Represent Consumers:
Yet with all of these changes coming in the future, I advise you to start here:
- To Do: Start With Your Website If you’re a retailer or chain restaurant, start experimenting now with how social can create a new experience on your website. See the case study on Levi’s as well as a detailed matrix of the different ways to integrate social on your site. Experimentation will take time, so start with a more controllable web experience before cascading to the real world.
- To Watch: Mobile Devices and Location Based Services: Watch innovation happen with digital displays, Microsoft Surface, Razorfish, and Cisco’s “Future of shopping” video, have all made early moves to demonstrate their experiments on this space. Before spreading to in-store digital displays, see how mobile social networks like FourSquare, GoWalla, and Facebook play to this space. See how Bing’s recent announcement on social shopping will become that ‘glue’ between web and the real world.
- To Plan: Our Pragmatic Research Report: The Altimeter Group’s Michael Gartenberg (mobile and device expert) and myself (social and customer) will be publishing a report on this topic in the near future, in the spirit of our previous reports under “Open Research.” Stay tuned at our blog, exciting times ahead, both on the computer screen, mobile screen, and digital screen in store.
Update: Facebook worked with Hershey’s to display Mother’s day photos in Times Square, see pics.
In an effort to recognize the changes in the social media space, I’ve started this post series (see archives) to both track and congratulate folks who get promoted, move, or accept new exciting positions. Please help me congratulate the following folks:
Also, my submission form has changed to a new URL, the former Google form was giving me problems, so please use this one going forward. Lots of movement in the social business category, including a few key hires at firms that get the social business landscape and quite a few submissions continuing to come in on the form.
- Giovanni Rodriguez Joins BroadVision as Chief Marketing Officer. I’ve known Giovanni for years, and consider him kind hearted, a strategic communications professional, and an excellent choice for this role. I’m wishing him success.
- Katlen Tillman joins ZAAZ as Associate Director of Social Media to support the Director of Social Media to build Zaaz’s social media practice.
- Chip Hunnicutt joins Crosman Corporation as Web and Social Marketing Manager Responsible for all social/online marketing for all divisions of the company.
- Jacob Maslow joins AllergyBeGone.com as Marketing Director Marketing, focused on Blogging/Social Media.
- Scott Meis joins Waggener Edstrom as Sr Digital Strategist in order to work with clients creating digital and social communications strategies.
- Mark Somol joins Mzinga as CFO, Somol will oversee all aspects of the company’s finance, corporate development, and strategic initiatives.
- Will Reichard Frost Mortgage Banking Group as Director of Social Media Business Strategies Developing, implementing and managing social media business strategies, including the use of social networking, blogs and social advertising campaigns
- Matthew Carter joins SOCIALtality as Vice President of Marketing Building awareness through both traditional and social media channels
- Bill Robb joins SAP Director of Social Media Marketing Defining SAP brand’s social media strategy as well as consulting with and enabling Global Marketing to use social media to support efforts.
- Julian Ward joins We Are Social as Managing Director Starting up We Are Social’s new Sydney office
- Heather Ann Snodgrass joins We Are Social as Strategy Director Starting up We Are Social’s new Sydney office
- Paolo Mottola joins Eddie Bauer as Social Media Specialist where he will Develop and execute social media strategies and activities which directly support Eddie Bauer public relations and marketing goals. Responsible for managing Eddie Bauer and First Ascent social media channels, including First Ascent’s BornOutThere blog.
- Lex Bradshaw-Zanger Leo Burnett (Dubai) is the Head of Digital Full integration of digital to the agency
- Stan Magniant joins MS&L as Group Manager, MS&L Digital EMEA Head of Digital PR EMEA, MS&L Group (part of Publicis Group)
How to connect with others (or get a job):
Several people have been hired because of this blog post series, here’s how you can too:
Submit an announcement
If you know folks that are moving up in the social media industry, submit to this form
Seeking Social Media Professionals?
If you’re seeking to connect with community advocates and community managers there are few resources
This list, which started with just 8 names continues to grow as folks submit to it. List of Social Computing Strategists and Community Managers for Enterprise Corporations 2008 –Social Media Professionals.
Job Resources in the Social Media and Web Industry
Web Strategy Jobs powered by Job o Matic (Post a job there and be seen by these blog readers, these affiliate fees pay for my hosting)
Read Write Web keeps announcements flowing at Jobwire, although is broader than just social media jobs
Facebook group for community manager group in Facebook
Jake McKee’s community portal for jobs
Chris Heuer’s Social Media Jobs
SimplyHired aggregates job listings, as does Indeed
ForumOne Jobs for Social Media and Community
Teresa has a few jobs, some around community
New Media hire has an extensive job database
Social Media Headhunter
Social media jobs
Jobs in social media
Altimeter Group’s list of social media consultants and agencies
Social Media Strategists and Community Managers for 2010
Hiring? Leave a comment
If you’re seeking candidates in the social media industry, many of them are within arms reach, feel free to leave a link to a job description (but not the whole job description, please)