With the changing landscape of marketing communications, particularly with the recent explosion of social media, it's always worthwhile to take some time away and reflect on it all.
I was fortunate enough to attend the Social Media Results conference in London recently to hear from some of the world's biggest brands, including: Adidas, Google, American Express and Vodafone.
I made sure to take note as these brands are living proof that ROI (return on investment) can be made from digital media. The development of social media monitoring tools has made this even easier for marketers to assess which activity delivered the results, and more importantly, which activity failed miserably.
The cynics among us would believe that social media success only rings true for larger organisations due to their global audience, substantial budget and high levels of brand affiliation, but it was reassuring to hear that this is not the case.
Global brands have set the tone for social media and the same principles can be applied to all organisations, irrespective of shape, size and marketing budget. It's up to the smaller organisations to ensure they can fit this mould by aligning their social media strategy with their overall business objectives.
In terms of measuring social media, it was refreshing to hear Cisco Systems recommend organisations to measure for improvement and not ego, as I believe too many companies make social media into a numbers game by constantly tracking fan and follower growth, rather than analysing factors like engagement levels, sentiment and number of customer queries resolved.
A surprising highlight of the day was BT, recently ranked as one of the Top 100 Social Media brands of 2011 by Headstream. What fascinated me was the catalyst that made them jump on the social media bandwagon. It was only once a senior employee spotted a celebrity complaining about their BT connection publicly on Twitter, discovering that this tweet was sent to a follower count stretching 100,000, and then witnessing the backlash unfolding as Twitter users echoed the same frustrations, that they decided to act.
BT Care now live by the motto of "taking our conversations to where our customers are" and deal with over 4,000 unique customers each month on Twitter alone. Their digital marketing strategy also covers Facebook, YouTube, community forums and live chat via their website, and customers are reaping the benefits of real-time responses as a result.
This is helping to meet the growing need of modern consumers as we are collectively becoming more impatient and demand instant results – meaning that emails, call centres and snail mail are no longer sufficient for managing all inquiries.
Adidas also shared insights into how they manage their 11m Facebook fans on their Adidas Originals Fan page. By continually analysing what a 'Like' means to customers, they realised that it indicates an interest in fitness, that you are a team player, and that it is a form of self-expression to shape how you want to be perceived by Facebook friends.
Adidas monitor this by segmenting their fan base into categories – influencers, multipliers, fans and foes – and review patterns within each group to monitor what they're reading, when they're reading it, and to track what content is driving engagement and getting shared. This form of customer (fan) relationship management allows them to continually monitor and improve their social media presence.
Adidas ended on a point that resonated a lot with me: "Don’t be afraid to make mistakes." I couldn't agree more. Embrace it, experiment, and learn from your mistakes. Even better if you can learn from other people's mistakes!
I look forward to seeing how SMEs in Scotland develop their social media presence by applying the same methodology set by global brands, and adapting it to suit that of their own business model.
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