Social Media? DO NOT Start in Marketing

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A New Customer Experience Model

With maturing strategy models, assessment methods and new reporting and analytic tools, businesses look differently at social media compared to just one year ago.

So what did change?
Clearly marketing was the early adopter of social media, created campaigns and explored ways to capture the attention of customers and prospects. It is less expensive than traditional advertising and at the same time more effective in getting new customer attention. But at the end the successful companies started elsewhere.

A cross functional approach
Now as customers get touched by marketing obviously sales is waking up and so is service. But most importantly the changing socio economic landscape brings also executives to the table. The next wave of social media is a comprehensive and corporate wide customer experience model. A cross functional way of customer engagement means incorporating all customer touching units including support, product design, logistics, sales and all the way back to marketing.

A mature corporate social media framework, as developed by experts from the social media academy :
– Business Objectives
– Social Media Assessment
– Strategy development
– Execution Plan
– Budgets, resources and ROI
– Measure model and tune results

What is the impact:
Numerous customer studies returned all the same result: Customer service is the biggest obstacle in creating a good customer experience. The actual purchase process is the least important issue. But many companies invest more in improving a situation that seems to be a none issue while circumventing investments that need it most.

SUPPORT DEPARTMENT
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Strategic engagements in social media start therefor on the support side as we can see with companies like Comcast, Ford, Dell and many others.

PRODUCT DEVELOPMENT
====================
A natural next step is to leverage the experience in the service and support departments to drive down product development cost, get early market feedback and in particular support during the product launch phase.

LOGISTICS AND PROCUREMENT
==========================
Social media is probably the most effective and the least expensive early warning system for everybody involved in procurement, logistics and production planning challenges.

SALES & MARKETING
==================
With the experience from support, product development and logistics it is a natural to now leverage social media in sales and marketing. Why at last? Only happy customers become advocates, helper in the word of mouth campaign or any other function to help create buzz and become buzz drivers into a market. Frustrated customers do the other way around. So starting in marketing – while very counter intuitive – is probably the biggest mistake you can make when you engage in social media.

The Social Media Academy is running a complementary webinar next week Friday, July 10 helping business managers to gain insight:
“Social Media – New Customer Experience Model” Please join: Customer Experience Webinar

Axel

9 COMMENTS

  1. Great post Axel, though your reference to the purchasing process being least important confuses me – I might take that offline with you to discuss further as it may be semantics as to what you refer to as being a purchasing process to what I view as the buying cycle and how it plugs into a purchase engagement/transaction.

    The one concern I didn’t think you touched on but in my opinion is the sleeping elephant in the room is whether the marketing teams, the creative agencies, and the PR types (i.e. the early adopters you referred to) are going to accept that social media is no longer their dirty little secret and that others have arrived at the party with new ideas and ways to utilise social media (as you aluded to).

    Do you think the marketing guru’s will start to collaborate and accept input from those of us who they generally consider to be enterprise riff-raff – i.e. those of us who (a) want to set some boundaries around how social media is used, and (b) want to sell stuff?

    I have my doubts but I guess time will tell…

  2. Axel, I agree that a comprehensive approach is needed. As you pointed out, social media can have an impact on the entire enterprise, from product development to marketing to sales (somewhat) and service.

    In our recent survey we found that business managers primarily see external social media as a way to gather market/customer insight and to influence buyers. A secondary agenda is to aid in customer service/support. Managers didn’t view social media as having much leverage in helping sales reps close more deals.

    Typically in a new area some functional area takes the lead. Marketing is actually a pretty good place to start with social media, just so long as it doesn’t end there.

    Bob Thompson, CustomerThink Corp.
    Blog: Unconventional Wisdom

  3. Axel

    It is time to move beyond the breathless hype surrounding Social Media and recognise that it is just another tool in the toolbox of businesses. It is an addition to the toolbox , not a replacement for all the other tools. It doesn’t reinvent business anymore than CRM or CEM did in the past few years.

    If Ford, Dell and Comcast have problems with product quality (Ford), service quality (Comcast), or post-purchase service responsiveness (Dell), then Social Media is not going to solve them any more than closing your eyes and wishing the problems away. The only way for business to tackle their problems is to adopt a thorough root cause analysis and make substantiable changes to whatever causes the problems. Social Media may help uncover some of the symptoms of the problems, but it isn’t going to help uncover the root causes, let alone fix them.

    It is high time we recognised Social Media for what it is; an additional tool for business to use, not a wholesale rewriting of business as we know it.

    Graham Hill
    Customer-centric Innovator
    Follow me on Twitter

    Interested in Customer Driven Innovation? Join the Customer Driven Innovation groups on LinkedIn or Facebook to learn more.

  4. Graham, I agree with you to some extent. Social media doesn’t replace CRM, CEM or building high-quality products, managing costs and other business fundamentals.

    But I think social media is much more than just another enterprise tool or “channel.” It’s more akin to Gutenberg’s invention of the printing press. Social media has made everyone not only a personal publisher but also tapped into the social networking desires that all humans have.

    I think the impact of social media is far greater than CRM or CEM, which after all are technology- or methodology-based refinements of company business practices that have gone on for centuries. Great for vendors and consultants, but hasn’t changed the fact that most companies still believe they own or control customers.

    But social media is moving consumers to more of a peer-to-peer relationships with companies. Collectively consumers will “vote up” the best companies and individually a single consumer can damage a brand with a viral video. Social media has changed politics, too. Can that be said for CRM or CEM?

    I think you’re mistaken for treating social media as just a tool. If anything, social media is under-hyped. Marketers experimenting with viral marketing or companies using Twitter for customer service is just the first wave of adoption, treating social media as a channel. I think the real impact has yet to be felt.

    In the next 5-10 years, I believe it will be increasingly rare to find a successful company that doesn’t use social media to spur innovation, improve product quality and in general build closer and more genuine relationships with customers. We don’t hand-copy books anymore, thanks to Gutenberg. I believe social media will have similar transformational effects on how business is done.

    Bob Thompson, CustomerThink Corp.
    Blog: Unconventional Wisdom

  5. Paul Greenberg has just published a pair of blog posts over at ZDNet and at his own PGreenblog.

    In them he puts forward what is by far the best thinking on Social CRM to-date; no breathless hype, no fanciful forecasts, just a call to cut through the crap and get back to Social CRM basics.

    Read them for yourself and profit from Paul’s wisdom.

    Graham Hill
    Customer-centric Innovator
    Follow me on Twitter

    Interested in Customer Driven Innovation? Join the Customer Driven Innovation groups on LinkedIn or Facebook to learn more.

  6. Thanks all for the great feedback.

    @Mark – Yeph – one reason why I wrote this. It is no longer the marketers secret but a tool in every business persons tool box – not just in marketing. Only once we see social media from a holistic point of view we are able to get real traction.

    @Bob – right social media doesn’t help close more deals. It doesn’t help CLOSING. Like products don’t close, marketing doesn’t close, advertising doesn’t close… People having trouble with CLOSING in general because they still believe THEY close a deal. But that is a whole different story.

    @Graham – Like Bob I think Social Media is way more than just another tool. The issue is that the term “Social Media” is a subject indicating it is a “thing”. To me social media is a state of mind that only a few reached so far. Once we elevated our thoughts and practice social media over time – then it actually does change the way we do business much more than any “tool” as social media is a “tool” and “a way of doing things”.

    The recent presidential campaign used social media as a tool but with the corresponding mindset. The other party currently tries to learn all about the “tools” but just doesn’t develop the mind set. I consult with a very small number of customers – the shift from “tools focus” to “mind set” is the biggest challenge because if you have 20 executives and 50 directors conditioned over 20 years to think in business process automation, low touch sales model… it feels like you stand in front of Mount Everest. The only support right now – their business sucks – based on the way they do business.

    I read Paul’s CEM manifesto – All I can say: “never give up – never surrender…” I like a lot what he wrote – but it ain’t over yet. 😉

  7. It’s interesting to read your different opinions about the impact of Social Media. I have to say that I do agree with Axel (even though I am a marketing guy myself).

    To use Social Media is about being part of the recommendation chain. We can choose to stay outside and work in the same way we have for a long time – the problem is that our customers won’t. We can all see the impact that the social media has on us as private people – Facebook has 300 million registered members – these people do talk, and they will talk about different brands no matter if the brand/the company decide to join or to stay out. Isn’t it the most logical thing to be present? To hear what people have to say, to help them with questions, to make a good impression – and then in the long run build a better connection to them so that they will talk about the brand in a good way to others?

    For me the relationship building is the most logical thing to use social media for!

    /Christian (XeeSM.com/bergenstrahle)

  8. While the use of Social Media should be part of the underlying strategy of any organization in the 21st century, I agree with everyone who has suggested that Social Media is much more than a mere tool, and it requires a transformational mindset to take proper advantage of it.

    Yes, as with any other framework or technology or methodology, there can be an abundance of hype and needless pontificating, but the ways in which business can be transformed by the use of Social Media are extensive. It is not hyperbole to suggest that this is game-changing — if done correctly.

    Just sticking a “social media ready” or “social media friendly” tag on one’s product or service will not transform it in any way. Also, for all the good that Social Media can and will support, there will also be abuse — both by those who don’t really get it, and by those who get it but desire to prey upon others.

    Dealing with customers as discrete individuals rather than larger demographics blocks will require different management skills, and has the potential to overwhelm and discourage those who treat it as just some new avenue to do the same old things as before.

    In the end, those who really get it will take their companies to further, faster, than those who ignore it or approach it superficially…

    ASB
    http://XeeSM.com/AndrewBaker

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