Archive for the ‘Tips & Help’ Category

4 Ways Your Product Team Can Benefit from Social Intelligence

How often have you heard the phrase “social media is the world’s largest focus group?”

You may have heard this phrase too many times to count, but how serious have you taken it? Maybe it’s about time that you did.

Social intelligence can help companies discover what people are saying about them and their products currently, but it can also help to shape where you should be going with your products in the future.

Social intelligence is all about making sure the right people in your company are getting the right information from your social data to make better business decisions. While the folks on your product teams may not be the most social (no offence product people) that doesn’t mean that they can’t benefit from social intelligence.

Make sure they see all of the right information

Social Intelligence For Your Product Team

Product people likely spend most of their day with their heads down trying to constantly tweak and improve your products. They may not have time to sift through your company’s social media to see what people are actually saying about the products they work on. But that doesn’t mean that they shouldn’t be seeing all of these conversations.

If your company has someone on the front lines for social media, you can have them collect all of the conversations happening around your product and send them over to your product team as they come in or in a daily or weekly report. If you’re a Sysomos Heartbeat client you can even set up email alerts based around product related keywords to be sent over to your product team automatically on one of the reporting schedules just mentioned. This way the product team can still focus on their work on the actual product, but receive consistent updates on what your customers think of the product and where they think it could benefit from an upgrade.

Discover what to work on easily

It’s one thing to start handing over all of the social conversations that are related to your product over to your product team so that they can see what people are saying. But how can they know what is most important to focus on? Determining which improvements are most important to your customers will help to know where to start your focus.

Text analytics can be a quick and easy way to surface which developments will make your customers happy and either keep them using your product or wanting to buy your next and better product. Running all of the social conversations that have been collected around your product though a word cloud or buzzgraph can help to surface the words that are being used the most when people are talking about your product.

Sysomos Buzzgraph of people talking about features on Android phones

You could even look at these text analytics through different lenses to help steer you. Looking at just the negative sentiment mentions can help determine what people are having the most issues with in your product. But if you look at the positive mentions the same way, you might also discover what people love the most about your product and you may want to put some time into making that part of the product even better.

Learn from your competitors

The great thing about the processes mentioned above is that you just don’t have to get the social intelligence you need to make better products from what people are saying about you specifically. Chances are that you have some form of competition with a similar offering to yours. Well, there’s also a great chance that their audience is talking about what they like and dislike about their products too.

You can recreate the process of collecting what people are saying about your competitors products in the social media space as well. From there, you can also use text analytics to surface what people like the best about their offering, or what they really hate about it. Again, your product team can use these learnings to find new ideas to try on your own product by taking what the competition’s fans hate about their product and making it better in your own or adding something that people love that you don’t offer yet.

Better yet, if you’re a Sysomos user you can even set up tags so that you can always keep an eye on what people are saying about your competitors in real time. For example, let’s you’re Green Mountain Coffee and your main competition is Starbucks. You might want to keep a constant eye on people who don’t like Starbucks’s coffee to find out why so you can improve yours and win new customers. All you need to do is set your tags and filters so that you can monitor for mentions of “Starbucks” and coffee with negative sentiment. You can even save the filter set so that it’s easy for you to come back to time and time again.

Sysomos Heartbeat - Monitoring for negative mentions of Starbucks coffee

Don’t be afraid to ask questions

Once the product team has decided on what they want to focus on, they can go back through all of those collected social posts and find out who was talking about what feature. You can then start asking questions to get deeper into what the customers would like to see, or how they would improve on something they don’t like.

I’ll never forget when a product I use religiously everyday made a big change and forced all their users into this new upgrade. For me, it just wasn’t the same product anymore and I took to Twitter to let the world know. To my surprise, the next day their lead developer contacted me and asked me what I didn’t like about the update. We then went back and forth on Twitter for about an hour as he asked my questions and I told him my opinions. The best part was that in their next update I could see that he had actually taken some of my suggestions and built them into (or returned some of them) to the product. This not only made me like the product again, but also kept me loyal to them as I knew they cared about what I said.

There’s a lot that your product team can learn from social intelligence to make your products better regardless of if they’re active social media participants or not. The information is all there, you just need to know how to access it all.

Want to know more about how to get the right social intelligenece to the right people in your organization? Contact us and we can help.

4 Ways Social Intelligence Can Help You Retain Customers

Experts say a customer retained is 2-3 times more valuable than a newly acquired one. Whether you sell a product or service, keeping your customers happy post-purchase is a huge and important task.

With the advent of social media and Internet savvy, socially active consumers, there’s a huge opportunity to strengthen your customer retention strategies.

Let’s stop here though. If you’re looking for a blog post focused on how to monitor and track what’s being said about your brand or product online, you can find these in other helpful Sysomos blog articles. :)

Today we’re going to talk about social intelligence, which is defined as the step beyond listening and reacting to Tweets, Instagram posts and the like. In an earlier post, Amber succinctly defined social intelligence as:

But in the case of “social intelligence”, we really are referring to the next generation of how social data informs your enterprise far beyond “brand watching”, listening or monitoring.

So, how do we take this concept and apply it to customer retention? In my opinion, customer retention is synonymous with customer care and customer satisfaction. A socially intelligent organization is one that has taken steps be able to act in a timely fashion on customer feedback and ensure that in all steps of a customer’s journey that they feel loved and adored.

Use your social fanbase as your most valued focus group

Thinking of a new product or feature idea? Is your company trying to decide amongst two or three features and you want to check in with your community?

I am an Engineer

The beautiful thing about social-powered focus groups is that they can be impromptu, fast-flowing and even fun!

When structuring your focus group, be sure to ask specific questions that will inform your business processes. As a team, decide what aspects of the decision you’re willing to crowd-source and be specific with the asks.

Also, think about how you’re going to collect opinions. Will you use a hashtag and manually collect responses or would you rather use a tool such as PollDaddy?

To honor the time investment given by your community, be sure to report back after the poll on how your team will make use of and act on the data.  Most of all, thank them!

Go beyond listening and build a team capable of taking action

Any brand can hire a community manager or agency to respond on Twitter to praise, complaints and feedback. However, it’s the socially intelligent organizations that build teams composed of people empowered to take action.

When a crisis hits, responsive action is the name of the game. So, in addition to monitoring and responding to complaints, your brand should construct a small group of rapid responders from marketing, fulfillment, customer service, legal and an executive sponsor to help push actions through.

Team With Medals

Also, on a regular basis, the community team should be sending regular reports to stakeholders in your organization about feedback gathered from the online community. These include metrics such as inbound mentions, top complaints, and praises and individuals that were specifically mentioned on social media.

Remember, it’s the small things that count most

Socially intelligent companies are online not only to push a marketing message and inform the public about products, but also to make sure customers are being listened to and respected. As a result, any community manager or department should have a good system in place for keeping tabs on top clients and most vocal advocates.

In my former position as an influence marketer at Republic Publishing for Nokia (now Microsoft), I used social intelligence to make sure our influencers were remembered during life’s milestones in a personal way. Despite having an influencer population of 400 people, we worked hard to recognize and reward our brand advocates and influencers.

Whenever a milestone was mentioned such as an anniversary, child’s graduation or similar event, we recorded the upcoming milestone in a shared notebook. By using surprise gifts such as a bouquet of flowers or a Starbucks gift card on Father’s day, we made efforts to ensure each of our brand influencers felt valued.

In your organization, you might take action by congratulating a subscriber on their 1-year anniversary of using your service or by sending them some company swag when they report being a repeat customer. Evaluate your online audience and construct a plan to delight and honor your fanbase.

Predict what your customer wants next

Every day, social data exposes customer’s opinions – good and bad. Here at Sysomos, we ingest multiple petabytes of data every day.

So, after monitoring and collecting data of what your social community is saying, the socially intelligent company will then move to an analysis and predictive phase by analyzing the conversations.

For example, say an electronics company releases a blockbuster toy. After 3-4 weeks of monitoring social conversation, a pattern appears of numerous complaints about battery life. The next step would be for that company to take this feedback to the engineering group to push for a larger battery to be potentially included in the next version of the electronic gadget.

Furthermore, moving along the social intelligence continuum, social data can be used to predict what your customers are looking for next. How do we build actionable information from social data? One technique is to look at mentions of your brands and products and discover what words are being said in relation to your proprietary terms. An integrated digital marketing organization can use search data from Google to help extrapolate this.

On the social data side, we can use Buzzgraph from Sysomos MAP to do the trick. For example, say you are a small-town microbrewery that just expanded your brewing capacity and you’re wondering what beer you should brew next.

By analyzing your brewery’s name in a Buzzgraph, you can surface social posts and unearth questions such as “Does Vagabond brewing make an Irish stout?” If you see this pattern over and over again, perhaps stout should be the next beer on Vagabond’s available sign. J

Sysomos MAP - Buzzgraph around community management

Wrapping up

As you can see, there are many ways social intelligence can be applied to customer retention.  What’s your favorite way of ensuring your customers are forever fans?

(Photo credit: orinrobertjohn and thejesse)

Listen To The Top Content Marketers On The Content Pros Podcast

Content Pros

When you work in any field, it’s hard to stay connected to the thought leaders and advanced topics that you typically have to go to a conference to be exposed to.

A new podcast for content marketers has been launched by our own Amber Naslund, SVP of Marketing for Sysomos and Chris Moody from Oracle Marketing Cloud.

Rather than focusing only on theory and high level thinking, Content Pros is twice-monthly podcast that features interviews with heavyweights in the content marketing answering the questions you want answers to.

Content Pros is 8 episodes in and has featured amazing shows with the likes of Jason Falls, Ann Handley, Jason Miller and many other luminaries. The shows are about 30-40 minutes long and a fantastic mix of fun conversation and hard hitting tips and topics that will enlighten you with every episode.

Also, for each Content Pros episode, the website features a visual note taker for every episode! They’ve partnered with Chrysallis Studios to create videos capturing the key points of Content Pros episodes.

Here’s an example:

Personally, I love podcasts because I can listen to them while on a bike ride, driving or walking to work.

Content Pros is available in iTunes, on Stitcher and via your favorite podcasting app. Sysomos is a proud sponsor of the podcast series we hope you subscribe today!

5 Takeaways From The PreCommerce Summit You Can Act On Now

W2O's 5th Annual PreCommerce SummitLast week we had the extreme pleasure of sponsoring The W2O Group’s 5th Annual PreCommerce Summit. This is a gathering of some very smart people to talk about what’s driving markets and people today. The event was a whole day of speakers from across a wide variety of industries that had something interesting to teach everyone in the audience. Topics for the day ranged from data across all industires to biases in our minds and workplaces to to the internet of things to telling better stories and even a fun fireside chat with Al Roker.

While everyone that spoke at this event had something interesting to say or teach the crowd, we picked out 5 things that we thought everyone in any industry should learn and can think about. In no particular order, here they are:

Try doing different things” – Mike Marinello, Head of Global Communications, Bloomberg

Mike Marinello’s talk at the PreCommerce Summit was actually about the need to be able to measure everything they do so they can show the value of it. That said though, Marinello said that his company isn’t afraid to try new and different things to attain their goals. When they know exactly what they’re measuring towards, they can try interesting new things because they will know which of them works and which don’t. Not everything is going to work in terms of helping to achieve your goals, but you’ll never know what else will if you’re not willing to at least try new and different things.

Use your data to tell an important story” – Chuck Hemann, Global Analytics Manager, Intel

As the Global Analytics Manager, Chuck Hemann sees a lot of data every day. He knows though that not all of it can be fully used all the time. That’s why he tells his team to pick out the one or two points of data that they think are most important for what the company is trying to achieve and tell that data’s story in a way that everyone will understand. Why is that data important? What does it mean to us right now? What does it mean we should be doing in the future? Data is very important to companies today, but you can sometimes have way to much data. Know what data is important and don’t just show numbers to people, use that data to tell a story and make people understand why it’s so important.

Engage or die” – Ray Kerins, SVP, Head of Communications and Government Relations, Bayer

Ray Kerins works in the world of pharma, which is notorious for having a lot of restrictions around what they can and can’t say. However, in a world where everyone and anyone has a voice, Kerins knows that if him and his team aren’t joining the conversation along with those other voices, whatever they say will be the only thing heard. Kerins talked about how he believes engagement is the way to get your story heard by everyone, especially those talking about you. If you don’t engage with those people that are talking about you then those people will own your compny’s story, not your company. So, engage or die.

Tech isn’t the big disruptor, business models are” – Mike Edelheart, CEO, Pivotcon

Too often we hear “this new app/software is going to change the game.” But how often is that actually the case? During his talk at the PreCommerce Summit, Mike Edelheart was quick to point out that tech can sometimes help to change games, but really it’s the business model behind what the tech is doing that’s the driving factor. Yes, Netflix was a technology, but it was really it’s streaming movies and TV shows anytime anywhere business model that changed the game. Same with Uber. Uber is an app, but it completely changed the business model for how people can get from point A to point B quickly and efficiently. So if you really want your company to be the next big industry disruptor, maybe don’t think about that app you have to build and think about how you can change the way you’re doing business to do it better.

Stop thinking of marketing like war and instead think of it like a garden” – Daina Middleton, Head of Global Business, Twitter

Daina Middleton started her talk by pointing out the fact that a lot of marketing terms are very similar to war terminology. Marketers talk about their stratagies and tactics to get their messages out. But in a world where marketing has turned into cultivating relationships and communities, maybe we need to think of marketing more like a garden. Relationships don’t just happen because you have a good marketing campaign. They happen because you need to put time and effort into slowly gaining trust and then nurturing that so that you can form an actual relationship with people. It’s very much like a garden. Your garden doesn’t grow overnight because you found the best soil or water. It grows over time because you put time and effort into it. Middleton actually has a formula for participation that says Discovery + Engagement + Connection = Participation, which is what makes up a real community. And all of these things take time and effort, but are much more worth it in the long term.

 

These are just a few things that we learned at the 5th Annual PreCommerce Summit, but they are also things that we think every company can start thinking about and act on right now. For a full run down of what every speaker had to say during the PreCommerce Summit, check out the W2O blog.

John Oliver Gets Spreading Information In The Social Age

Last Week Tonight with John OliverYou can debate back and forth for days on whether Last Week Tonight is a news program or a comedy and entertainment show… or even both. But one thing you can’t debate is that John Oliver has been instrumental in opening the eyes of his viewers to subjects that they should probably know more about.

And when we say viewers, we don’t just mean the people who watch his show live on HBO, we mean everyone that has seen the numerous clips from John Oliver’s Last Week Tonight since it debuted at the end of April this year.

Yes, the show we’re talking about is an HBO program, which means that viewers need to subscribe to HBO through their cable company to see the show live as it airs on Sunday nights. However, what John Oliver’s show has done that not many other shows do, especially ones on premium cable subscription channels, is found a way to make his interesting content very sharable by putting all of his segments up on YouTube.

And this is why we say that John Oliver gets it. He knows that if you want your content to spread it has to be three things; interesting, entertaining and sharable. Last Week Tonight is all three of these, which is why it got so popular so fast.

We used MAP, our social media monitoring and analytics software, to dig a little deeper on the social phenomenon that is is John Oliver’s brand of entertaining news.

Since Last Week Tonight debuted at the end of April this year, the show’s name or John Oliver have appeared in over 818,000 social media posts.  Mentions have appeared in 14,496 blog posts, 17,346 online news articles, 26,152 forum postings and 760,222 tweets.

Sysomos MAP - Activity Summary

There has also been, over the same time period, 11,973 videos posted that have John Oliver or Last Week Tonight mentioned in their titles or descriptions. And, to add to that, only 83 of those videos come from the show’s own YouTube channel.

Sysomos MAP - Video Activity Summary

While the number of mentions that John Oliver and Last Week Tonight have received since their show debuted is by no means an astronomical number, it’s really what was in those posts and how many people saw them that mattered. And what was in them, was videos from their YouTube channel.

You see, John Oliver and Last Week Tonight knew that not everyone has an HBO subscription. So they made their content easy to find and share somewhere else, the world’s second largest search engine, YouTube. And it’s been working for them.

We pulled up some of the stats from the Last Week Tonight YouTube page. What we found that the channel has over a million subscribers. Even better though is that the 83 videos posted to the channel have amassed over 150 million views. That’s not bad since the channel has only existed for just about 6 months.

Sysomos MAP - YouTube Channel Analysis

Even more impressive is when we looked at which of his videos were the most popular. The top five most popular videos from the channel weren’t the short funny little two minute videos. All five of them were the show’s longer form feature stories that average around 14 minutes in runtime.

Sysomos MAP - Most Viewed Videos On Last Week Tonight's YouTube Channel

Even more interesting though is when we go back to the social mentions of John Oliver and Last Week Tonight we started talking about. When we look at those mentions on our popularity chart, which plots out the mentions over time, we can see a bunch of large spikes in conversation. All of them, including the largest spike on August 18th, happen on Mondays, the day after the show airs on HBO. People would literally be waiting for the videos to go up the next morning so they could see them and share them.

Sysomos MAP - Popularity Chart

So, what can you learn from John Oliver and Last Week Tonight?

The main take-aways we see here is that there is no magic length for how long a blog post or a video should be to optimize how much your content gets shared through social media. Your content should be as long as it needs to, as long as you can keep it interesting, entertaining and make it easily sharable. If you can do that, people will be anxiously waiting for your content so they can see it and share it.

And now, just for fun and so those of you not familiar with the show can understand what we’re talking about, here’s one of our favourite clips from the first season of Last Week Tonight (of course it has to do with the internet):

 

More On Timing Your Social Media Posts…

TimingYesterday here on the blog, Mark wrote about a an infographic that told people the best times to post to different social networks. The makers of that infographic, SurePayroll, are not the first people to try to tell the world about these “best times to post.” Buffer, the app that helps people share articles spread out over time, has made posts about this before and we even put out a report a few years ago that contained information on when Twitter users are most active, which could give you a good idea of when to post.

Seeing things like this give people a good idea as to when the majority of Twitter users seem to be most active, which could be a good place to start testing if those times work for your brand. However, I’ve personally always been a proponent of really knowing your audience, which means finding out what times are best for THEM specifically and not just everyone.

An example I’ve used many times when speaking to people about this topic is brands that focus on a younger demographic. While many reports and infographics show that peak times to tweet are somewhere between 9am-3pm Monday through Thursday, that’s not great timing for brands to reach teenagers as they should be in school at that time and (hopefully) not checking Twitter.

So, after reading yesterday’s post, I decided to put my theory to the test and to show the world.

In both our MAP and Heartbeat software we have a great feature that we call “Best Time To Tweet.” This feature looks at all of the people following a brand (usually your brand) to see when these specific followers are most active on Twitter. We then lay out a graph for you showing these levels of activity and suggest that some of these most active times of your followers would likely be the best time for your brand to tweet.

I picked a couple of interesting brands to highlight as an example below and show that each brand will have a unique best time to tweet that they can only really know by understanding their audience. The graphs below show that followers of a Twitter account are more active when the squares on the grid are a darker shade of blue.

In the sense of fairness, I started by analyzing my own Twitter handle. I live in Toronto and do a lot of my tweeting with the world during business hours. So, it was no surprise that a lot of my followers are active during those times too. As you can see, most of my followers are very active between 9am-5pm(EST) on weekdays.

@40deuce@40deuce's Best Time To Tweet

I then looked at our @Sysomos handle. While we have a lot of followers from around the world, it still seems that our followers are most active during business hours as well.

@Sysomos@Sysomos's Best Time To Tweet

But what about consumer based brands? Their target audience and followers may not be people doing business during business hours.

I started by taking a look at @CocaCola, a brand known around the world. Coke has no specific demographic as they want to reach anyone interested in a refreshing beverage from around the world. When I analyzed their Twitter followers, it appeared that they were most active in the afternoons, which is probably a good time for people to take a break and grab a Coke. So for @CocaCola, it might be best to tweet at people looking for that break.

@CocaCola@CocaCola's Best Time To Tweet

To test my theory about kids being in school during what others say are the peak times to tweet, I looked at the @DisneyChannel, a channel with children’s programming all day in the US. As it turns out, their followers are being most active on Twitter between 1pm-10pm(EST). That shows that their fans start to become active on Twitter when school is ending, so for them to tweet in the morning may not make sense, but hitting up that after school crowd would.

@DisneyChannel@DisneyChannel's Best Time To Tweet

I then started to experiment a little bit more with this.

The next brand I decided to look at was the @WWE, who has a very active Twitter account all day every day. When I analyzed their followers it turned out that they are most active on Monday nights between 8pm-10pm. That also just happens to be the time that RAW, their flagship TV show airs. So, for the WWE, it pays for them to be the most active while people are watching and tweeting along with RAW.

@WWE@WWE's Best Time To Tweet

Next, I looked at @TacoBell, the Mexican fast food chain. Now, Taco Bell is known to have a stereotype of having a special affinity from a late night crowd of teenagers and college students. However, it may not actually be such a sterotype. When I analyzed their account to see when their followers are most active, it turned out they were tweeting the most between 8pm-midnight almost all week long. So, rather than shrugging off that stereotype, it may actually be better for them to embrace it and to tweet when their followers really are most active.

@TacoBell@TacoBell's Best Time To Tweet

Some friends of mine on Twitter suggested that @EAT24 is a great brand to follow on Twitter. I had never heard of them (because they are US based and not in Canada where I can use them yet), but they’re an app that makes ordering pick-up or delivery food easy for people across the US. As it turns out, being an app for food they want to be available when people are hungry. When I looked at their followers, they were most active from about 11am-1am(EST), all times when people are hungry and thinking about ordering food. Interestingly, Friday afternoons are when their followers are most active, which also just happens to be when people are thinking about ordering food for Friday night after a long week when they don’t want to cook.

@EAT24@EAT24's Best Time To Tweet

Lastly, I decided to get a little worldly. I looked at the account for @Westpac, a bank in Australia. Australia is currently 14 hours ahead of my Eastern Standard Timezone. So, when I analyzed their followers to see when they’re most active it wasn’t surprising to find that their best time to tweet was in the middle of my night.

@Westpac@Westpac's Best Time To Tweet

Now, these are just a few brands on Twitter. Every brand will see that their fans or followers are active during different times of the day. Also, different social networks see activity at different times of the day. For some of these networks where you may not be able to see follower analytics as easy, testing may be the best way to find out when your best time to post to them would be.

So, we want to know, how do you know when the best time to post to a social network is for your fan base? Let us know how you determine it in the comments.

What Goes Viral?

stock-partyThis past weekend, a teen from Mississauga did what lots of teens have done in the past: announced a get-together on Facebook. Somehow, this innocent announcement of a small, private event spiralled out of control. The word spread via social media, the party eventually developed its own hashtag, and even a paper flyer went out (put together by persons unknown).

The teen’s parents ended up calling the police when droves started arriving at their home. For four hours, if you can believe it, police stationed themselves at the house and turned prospective partygoers away. The cops even sent out their own social media messages, warning visitors that they’d be met with a police cruiser upon their arrival. They claimed their word prevented even more visitors. But still.

This party gone wild is yet another example of a social media message inexplicably going viral and having real-world consequences. There are other viral instances no one wants: the politician saying something sexist, the athlete caught on video, drunk at a party. Marketers, meanwhile, would love to know just how to command an audience in the millions for their story, video or image.

So academics and social media groups have put their minds to studying the phenomenon; trying to crack the viral code so those who want to go big can do so. Here’s what the research says:

-Positive material spreads faster than negative, according to one study. Rage has the most velocity, according to another.

-Evoke emotions: shock, awe, pity, alarm. Further to the above, really — emotional content is what people want to share.

-Be practical. Service-style information gets traction. Makes sense: we all want to know how to do stuff like get healthier, live better and make more money.

-People share what they think others want to know or hear about. This really puts the social in social media.

-Studies are showing that long posts attract the most links. Meanwhile, multimedia content is more likely to go viral than text-based material.

-Be funny. Humour has been working in traditional advertising for decades. In online content, it’s key for everything but the most serious content.

If that seems like a lot of bases to cover, that’s because it is. In truth, we don’t yet fully understand what turns a get-together into the biggest party in town. But we’re getting closer to understanding the odd modern phenomenon that is viral content.

 

Want To Win On Twitter? Think Like A Good Host

By Jeff Cann, 

It’s often said that social media is much like a cocktail party: intimate, engaging, and an opportunity for the host to meet new people and give guests a truly memorable evening. For a brand, social media is not much different. While it was once impossible to imagine that your favorite running shoe company or baseball team could ever talk to you personally, brands and customers now have that opportunity each and every day.

So that all brands can be incredible hosts, I would like to share three best practices for throwing the best Twitter cocktail party you can.

1)     Don’t always talk about yourself. 

A very quick and easy way to audit what type of content your Twitter handle creates is to look at the proportion of Tweets that are Re-Tweets, @Replies and Regular Tweets.

McDonalds

MAP - from-mcdonalds

What should your mix look like?  Because different industries will see different levels of engagement, as well as utilization of Twitter as a customer service channel, there is no magic formula. But ensuring that you’re proactively and reactively engaging with customers and potential customers more than you’re broadcasting news about yourself is always the first step to becoming a good host.

2)     Work the room and play to your audience

One thing all of your customers have in common is the fact that they have purchased your product or service. While this may bind the whole crowd together at a very basic level, there will always be very distinct groups and interests within that crowd, making a one-size-fits-all approach not only difficult, but largely ineffective. Cocktail parties are no different. Guests all share something in common, but groups of folks can and will congregate and engage in very different conversations. In a nutshell, it’s the job of social analytics to show brands who these groups are and what the people in those groups are talking about.

Heartbeat - Scripps - Food measure

Using the Communities report in Sysomos Heartbeat, brands can uncover who the most influential community members are, and what the theme of their group’s conversation is. By leveraging this information, you can provide value to the group’s conversation and spend your time (and resources) wisely by targeting the folks who know the most about a topic.

3)     Host your party at the most convenient time

Depending on where you are in life, a 6pm cocktail party may be infinitely more appealing than one that starts at 11pm. A brand’s audience is no different.  So if you’re going to host a party, you may as well do it at a time that works well for the majority of your guests.

rolling rock

MAP - Rolling Rock

Given that your followers are your guests, look to make announcements, host online chats and execute campaigns based on the times when their base engagement rates are highest. Sounds simple, but it will give a big boost to your chances of success.

 

While social brings with it new challenges and opportunities, the overall objective from a marketing standpoint has never changed: get the right message to the right person at the right time. Following the three best practices above will ensure that you’re not only a good host, but that your brand is positioned for success and capitalizing on the tremendous opportunity that social represents.

 

Since joining Sysomos during its startup days in 2009, Jeff Cann has experienced the impact and spread of social across virtually all industries and job functions. With 14 years of client service and client management experience, including seven years exclusively in web and social analytics, Jeff brings a unique data- and client-focused lens to Sysomos. In his current role as Sr. Director of Client Experience, Jeff manages a team of Social Media Specialists responsible for client usage, adoption and success of Sysomos applications. 

Getting Close to Customers is Easier Said Than Done

By John Sanchez

 

CloseToCustomersWith Sysomos hosting an upcoming event in San Francisco about the link between social media and customer intimacy, I’ve been thinking even more lately about what “customer intimacy” really means. And it occurred to me that the term is really just the latest incarnation of a time-honored approach to delivering great products and service: Get close to your customers.

During a recent leadership meeting, I asked a group of our executives to stand up, put a hand in the air and repeat the phrase “we’re getting closer to our customers” five times while turning in circles. I’m proud to report that some members of the team took to the exercise with great enthusiasm—predictably, they were the Sales folks. Finance was a bit less enthusiastic. HR played along, but they were keeping an eye on me.

When we completed the exercise, I asked everyone to put down their hands and look to their left and right. Then I asked: “So are we any closer to our customers?” I’m pretty sure it had the desired effect.

The concept of customer intimacy is not new. In fact, you’ll find a virtually endless array of research, books, case studies and testimonials on the topic. While I find it curious that there’s still an endless appetite for even more “new” and “original” thought on the topic when so much excellent work always exists, the main takeaway for me is this: customer intimacy remains incredibly relevant today because it’s an objective companies truly want and need to attain.

I’m familiar with enough of the research to frame up a discussion about customer intimacy using all the usual jargon. But I think it would be far more helpful to share a few practical lessons about what it really takes to pursue customer intimacy—based on what I’ve learned over the years simply by rubbing elbows with the people we in business call “customers.”

  1. A fish rots from the head. Leadership is a privilege, and leaders set the tone for the organization in a million different ways. In the end, every resource a company has stems from the good will—and patronage—of customers. Customers can take their business elsewhere for any reason at any time. A company’s most senior leaders must sincerely understand and humbly demonstrate their appreciation of customers if there is to be any hope of influencing front-line staff to walk their talk.
  1. Common sense is not common. We all intuitively seem to understand what if means to receive exceptional service and how it looks when we deliver it. Yet consistent execution against this standard is the exception, rather than the rule. The path to “that very hot place” in the world of customer experience is paved with the best intentions. It’s true that the best and most memorable service experiences feel spontaneous. But the accompanying reality is that extraordinary, branded customer experiences—the consistent, intentional, differentiated and valued experiences that delight customers so much they’re willing to pay a premium for them—are the product of meticulous planning and hard work.  Companies that enjoy intimacy with their customers and provide exceptional service understand that it doesn’t just “happen.” They’ve worked tirelessly to plan, build processes, track and measure in order to ensure that their product or service meets or exceeds expectations.
  1. Service starts at home. We can’t expect that an organization’s ability to deliver service to customers would exceed the degree to which it regards its own team members and supplier-partners. A leader who walks by a team member she sees every day and fails to acknowledge that person’s humanity probably expects that team member to answer every call professionally and cheerfully. If internal systems for reward and recognition, coaching and feedback, payroll, or benefits are lacking, it’s a good bet that many of the steps along the customer journey—such as new customer onboarding, product sales and service, invoicing, and all the background processes that support them—are flawed as well.
  1. All the lessons learned before kindergarten from people like Dr. Seuss still count. Laugh if you like, but “please” and “thank you” are still the magic words. And if you keep frowning like that, there actually is a chance that your face may stay that way forever. We can find a great deal of wisdom on how we should listen to and try to understand customers in the digital age by reading, re-reading and applying lessons from Horton Hears a Who. Moreover, Yertel the Turtle nicely lays out the consequences for leaders who don’t listen to their team members—and for companies who don’t listen to their customers.
  1. Customers’ needs are simple. Soon after I first started working at Harrah’s Casino, I was assigned the task of observing service levels at our famous seafood buffet—under the watchful eye of a mentor of mine named Paul. We were running a special promotion that night, so the place was packed, and there was a long line of customers waiting to be seated that was getting even longer. Paul, an experienced pit boss who had cut his teeth at the Flamingo back in the early 1960s, had a sharp eye and an even sharper tongue. He immediately saw the problem and motioned for me to help as he quickly stepped in to seat customers and get the line moving. Later on when the line cleared, he set me straight: “Kid, customers only want three things: perfect, now and free. We mostly ain’t going to give it to ‘em free, so we’d better do the other parts great.” There’s really nothing I can add to that.
  1. “Try, try again.” I intentionally left off the first part of this proverb (“if at first you don’t succeed”) because even if you do succeed, it will be fleeting. Just as perfection should never get in the way of better, good is the enemy of great. Customers, competitors, the environment and technology are in constant flux, so solutions must be agile enough to anticipate and quickly change.
  1. Technology evolves to serve people, so it should be used only if it helps your customers. This week, I interviewed a candidate for a role at Sysomos. He mentioned that before his day had even started, he found that he’d been invited to a pub event, noticed that someone had a poor experience on an airline, and discovered that many people were exchanging views about the abdication of the King of Spain. Our candidate received all of this information, and contributed his own perspectives, over social networks. For him, social media is second nature—it’s simply how he communicates. So user, beware: trying to leverage social networks to become intimate with customers before you’ve attended to the basics is like trying to e-mail before you’ve achieved a basic level of literacy. Even worse, it will reveal what you don’t know and increase the chances of poor communication.  What’s clear is the fact that social media makes it much more difficult to “fake it” if you are not committed to customer intimacy and service.

If you’ve read this far, you may be scratching your head, wondering: “How can it be this simple, especially given all of the continuing discussion on this topic?” You may even be tempted to discount these seven principles as obvious platitudes with no underlying value. But as Ockham’s razor tells us, in the absence of certainty, the simplest explanation is often the most apt.

Talking about getting closer to customers while you turn around in circles won’t get you any closer to achieving it. But taking action to bring these seven principles to life in your company is guaranteed to take you a long way toward realizing the goal of customer intimacy.

 

John Sanchez is EVP of Global Operations at Marketwired—the parent company of Sysomos—where he leads the organization’s customer engagement and lean process redesign initiatives, and also oversees the client support teams that service Sysomos-powered products across the enterprise. A decorated combat veteran and graduate of both the U.S. Military Academy at West Point and the Wharton School of Business, he has over 26 years of experience in engineering, operational and financial roles in diverse industries.

Sharing Resources To Grow The Role Of The Community Manager

Today I’m at CM1, a conference for community managers, taking place in Toronto.

Just think that 10 years ago there was no role at a company called a community manager. Today though, many companies have community managers (or sometimes they call them social media managers) and we have whole conferences set up around learning and growing for people who do this.

I did a quick search for the terms “community manager” and “community management” over the past year using MAP, our social media monitoring and analytics software, and found that they were mentioned in 1.1 million social conversations. If that isn’t proof that this is an important role, I’m not sure what is.

Sysomos MAP - Activity Summary

Sysomos MAP - Popularity Chart

But what is a community manager?

A lot of people still see this role as “the person who plays on social media all day.” While a lot of community management is done via social media because of the access that the social web has opened to people, that’s not really a great definition for what community managers do.

My personal definition of a community manager is that they are the person (or people, depending on the size of your organization) that act as the bridge between the people inside your company and your customers, community, fans and friends outside of your company. A community manager should be the person in your organization that has their pulse on what’s going on on with your community and can relate that information to the people that need it inside your company. At the same time, they need to be informed about what’s happening inside your company so they can share that information with people outside that are interested. The community manager needs to be fully immersed in everything that is going on.

Now, that’s just my definition of what I think a community manager should be. Every company will define this a little bit differently, but it should seem somewhat like what I said above. But your company and you have to decide how you will approach community management yourself.

I had the pleasure of being the opening speaker at CM1 the last time the conference was in town and I put together a presentation that can help you decide what kind of community manager your company needs and how you will do it. Here’s my slides for you to look over yourself (they’re better with me speaking over them, but you’ll get the point):

As a community manager myself, I feel it’s important for community managers to talk and grow the role together. That’s why I’ll be taking notes and putting together a Storify of some of the great content I’ll be learning today about community management and will share it here on the blog next week.

In the meantime though, here’s a few more resources that I like to learn more about community management:

  • Community Manager Chat – This is a weekly Twitter chat that happens every Wednesday at 2pm(EST) where community managers gather to discuss tips and best practices around a different community related topics every week. To join the chat, keep an eye out for and use the hashtag #cmgrchat on Twitter.
  • The Community Manager – The Community Manager is a website dedicated to all things community management. There’s a lot of great articles on this site around brand communities, so check them out at http://thecommunitymanager.com/
  • The Community Roundtable – The Community Roundtable is a members only group where professionals focused on growing communities for their brands can interact with each other to trade stories, ideas and more. While this group may have a member fee, it may be worth it as there’s a lot of great brands and professionals you can learn from that already members. Check the group out at http://www.communityroundtable.com/

That’s just a few good resources I know of. What are some good resources for community management you use or know about? Please share with us in the comments.