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Welcome to the trough of disillusionment Social CRM, we’re happy to have you.
So, how did we get here?
First we made “social” into a term that made us gag a little. The “we” in this situation incorporates businesses large and small, the media, and especially application and service providers including those of us writing this blog post. “Social” meant everything from text messaging, to web chat, to mobile apps, to screen sharing, to web conferencing, to (for the guy I met at a conference that time) basic selling techniques such as phone calls and shaking hands. What we really meant was social media or social networking, but why split hairs at this point? What’s done is done and now it’s all “digital” anyhow.
Then we neglected to really recognize that social CRM meant social for CRM, not a separate business practice consisting of posting whatever we wanted to social networks. Marketers have become spam bots and customer support teams have found a new place to send links to self-service sites. No one has actually cared about the customer’s experience so much as they have not having hours of meetings with another team in the organization so that this stuff is unified.
And finally, we found new shiny objects: “digital,” “mobile,” and “the internet of things” among the most popular.
But we shan’t be bitter. No, we shall wade in the trough and consider how we can get people to think of us as an integral part of managing the farm rather than a nice-to-have.
Here are three quick tips to get out of the trough:
Make social mean something – why is this work critical to our organization’s success? Quantify it. Yeah, I said it. Use numbers.
Stop keeping social in a silo – if you have a social “team,” I have to assume you also have an “email” team, and a “phone” team.
Define what you really want when you say “social.” Placing things on social media? Engaging with people on social networks? Developing a group messaging app?
Every year, Gartner develops a piece of research called the Top Use Cases and Benefits of Social for CRM. We look at what our clients are doing, and the innovative use cases we’ve seen from vendors, and we compile a list of approaches to social for CRM along with a companion case study/customer example from the past year. This has been one of our most popular documents in the space over the years, and candidly, it has never been difficult to produce.
Until this year.
For all of the pronouncements in the market about social successes and companies having it figured out, I have been pulling my hair out looking for case studies that show actual business value. I don’t care about the number of followers someone has, or if they’ve expanded their reach.
I do care about how this has impacted your business: have you made money? Saved money? Improved customer satisfaction (which will eventually get us to $?)
I have to wonder: are people measuring anything or are they still just playing around? Are the application providers in the space enabling that immaturity or are they doing anything to help? Of the 100+ vendors we cover in the space, about five have GOOD case studies and so it’s no surprise people question its survival.
Has anyone found any substantiated case studies from 2014? If so, prove me wrong!
The irony of a research analyst responsible for covering business use of popular social media to connect with their consumers, posting a jaded consumer’s perspective is not lost on me. But over the last year, I’ve noticed that I have stopped tweeting as often or checking Twitter at all outside of major news events. And this morning I asked myself, “why?”
I checked my Twitter dashboard this morning and with the exception of my @mentions feed and my direct messages, 9 out of every 10 posts was meant to market to me (the 1 out of 10 exception was news.) And maybe it’s the people I’ve chosen to follow or the keywords I’ve chosen to follow that are the real problem; but I can’t help but think this is the “noise” that those who don’t tweet often associate with the medium.
Twitter was meant to be a forum for dialogue. Quick quips, but quips that encouraged response and engagement. Now every tweet I see points me to some blog post (noting that I will post a link to this blog post on Twitter and LinkedIn,) or someone retweeting a compliment that received. It’s just unfortunate to see what has happened and how it truly in the fears that were expressed by my peers when marketers really invested in the network a few years back.
So, how do we fix it? We re-appropriate our time. Twitter may become more of a news site, less of a social network, for me. But what do you do as a business when you see a blog post like this? How do you “fix” what you’re doing on Twitter so that you don’t get written off by the jaded consumer?
Speak with specific people, not at them. Mass messaging works for some things, but not for others. If you want to show people you’re there of be a part of the community, then talk to the community members. Buy in from members makes you a community member, not using a hashtag.
Get some context. Use social analytics to determine the what and why and who of the conversation happening on Twitter. Experimentation isn’t always the name of the game. Your consumers see so much irrelevant garbage on Twitter. Don’t add to the trash heap.
Stop taking people off of Twitter. Let’s say someone has a service problem that they express concern for on Twitter. If you link them to your self-service site, you are not helping them. You are being corporate again. Have a dialogue with the person over their medium of choice. Don’t expect them to listen to your marketing noise on their channel and then come talk to you on your channel.
Am I going to stop using Twitter? No. Not today. But no one wants to play in a spam playground.
A wise woman once told me never to mistake activity for achievement and while I heard her, I never really understood her before I came to work for Gartner.
At Gartner, I have the opportunity to observe from afar, or in other cases from a bit too close, and recognize what is going right amongst our clients, and what is going wrong. And there is one thing that continues to go wrong within our client base, within “case studies,” and within media coverage of the business use of social media: the discussion of metrics.
Fans, followers, likes, comments, re-tweets, views, engagement rate, impressions…these things tell us nothing in isolation. There are activity metrics and they’re easy to measure. Easy to measure doesn’t mean that they’re bad, but alone they tell us nothing about our productivity towards a goal which impacts the business.
There is a way to make activity metrics more useful: make them relative. This doesn’t mean that saying in January you acquired 40 new fans and in February you increased that to 80 – metrics like that still don’t tell you much of anything. Instead, take a look at how many impressions you have from a Facebook ad as compared to the newsprint ad you bought. Compare impressions to cost. Is your cost per impression for equally targeted advertising less on social media than it is in traditional media?
Relative activity measurements help companies with things that matter like cost savings or increase in revenue generating opportunities, or even the ability to do predictive analysis when correlated to other data sets. And hey take it from someone who didn’t want to hear it, if you can do something to track conversions but you think it will minimize viewership or consumption of your content (like putting up a registration wall,) remember that unless YOU capture that lead via social media, you can’t prove that the lead came from work that YOU did. And so YOUR budget is going to get cut.
If you’re reading this post, I want you to take 10 minutes (block your calendar) and write out what you’re doing on social media and how it impacts your business. If you want to share, great, but if not keep in mind that this activity is for YOU to help YOU.
When I was a wee intern, building out social media pages for the products and campaigns I supported without rhyme or reason, I built an Orkut page for both myself and one of the campaigns. For the particular campaign, I was trying to reach developers and coders particularly in India and so I was exposed to the Facebook-esque network which was Google’s first run at social networking and gained some popularity in India and Brazil.
For those who don’t recall, the cupcake craze, as it’s called, started in the early-to-mid-2000’s, a similar time as the social media craze. Now I’m not saying that Google and Crumbs came together in 2003/2004 in an evil conspiracy to upset all Brazilians who are living in America a decade down the line by pummeling them with bad news (But come on, wouldn’t that have been crazy?) But I am saying that there is certainly a lesson to be learned here.
When a craze hits, we as business leaders jump!
We want to get involved. We want to make this craze into something we can capitalize on. We live on the hype and we ride its wave. But we need to start looking at the craze a little bit differently. What is the want/need behind a craze? With cupcakes we wanted something sweet, cute, delicious, and reminiscent of our childhood. With social networks we wanted a way to connect with people persistently even when we’re “offline” and we also wanted to brag about ourselves just a little bit.
Zach Galifianakis on “Between Two Ferns”
So if now we think of Crumbs and we think of Orkut (and we think of the Brazilian national soccer team,) can’t all of these businesses/products/things be replaced? Cupcakes can be replaced by donuts, Orkut can be replaced by Facebook, the Brazilian soccer team can be replaced by Germany, but it doesn’t just end with a single transition. If we assume a business can be run on those initial needs: sweet and reminiscent or persistent connection, why can’t something else just work its way to the forefront? Donuts become Dunk-a-roos, Facebook is replaced by a network exclusive to smart watches, and Germany loses to the Netherlands/Argentina in the 2014 World Cup final.
Build for the need, not the network, and no matter where the line of transition leads, you’ll be prepared.
It’s somewhat obvious that not all of today’s social networks, or yesterday’s for that matter, are going to make it in the biz, so in today’s post, I want us all to make some social network predictions based on what has happened to the members of N’Sync.
From L to R: Justin Timberlake, Lance Bass, Joey Fatone, JC Chasez, Chris Kirkpatrick
Our five boy banders are:
Justin Timberlake – N’Sync’s number one member in terms of vocals, dancing and tween-heartthrob status, Timberlake has done well for himself as a solo artist collaborating with the likes of Timbaland and Jay-Z. Formerly attached to Britney Spears, Timberlake has had a series of high profile relationships before settling down with Jessica Biel. The hair and accessories were horrible, but they’ve gotten much better and I think they’ll continue to do so. Sometimes he let’s the other members of N’Sync hang out with him on stage at the MTV Music Video Awards, but not usually.
Sussin Score: LinkedIn
Lance Bass – I’m going to be transparent with you, he was my favorite in N’Sync’s glory days. Lance Bass was always unassuming and just did his thing. He got a lot of attention from the ladies and kind of just went with the flow. Years after dating Boy Meets World’s Topanga, he came out as gay. Lance isn’t popping up on random TV shows and we don’t hear of him making music, but he keeps just doing his thing and being himself.
Sussin Score: Pinterest
Joey Fatone – he was the bad boy of the group as you can see by his spiked red hair and accessories. Often times he wore no shirt sleeves, and other times they were there and mesh, but one thing we all know is that he was a big Superman fan (the 90’s cat video.) Fatone shows up randomly on broadway or pulling cameos on TV shows or even appearing in hair loss commercials. The guy has little shame but seems to have staying power.
Sussin Score: YouTube
JC Chasez – formerly a top 2 N’Sync member in terms of vocal ability, notoriety, and 12 yr old girl crushes, JC left N’Sync while still in some control of his career. He dated Tara Reid when that was popular and he had a few singles. He made some bad hair and wardrobe choices over the years and after becoming somewhat unimportant, he does do some behind-the-scenes work now.
Sussin Score: Facebook
Chris Kirkpatrick – Crazy hair. No one knows if he has a good voice but he fit a role. Perhaps he danced well? Anyway, a couple years back Chris was interviewed and said that he thinks N’Sync will definitely get back together some day. He’s slightly delusional but I think if a 90’s tween saw him, they’d still be excited from a reminiscent perspective.
Sussin Score: Friendster
Here’s the thing: we don’t get rid of boy bands. They come back for reunion tours and we wish they wouldn’t sometimes but guess what? Even Chris Kirkpatrick has fan sites to this day. Social networks are in flux, but that doesn’t mean the networks/boys won’t still show up in some way, shape, or form from time-to-time.
So let’s do a Pac-man and Dot table for market re-cap thus far…
Keep in mind some of those big deals, were for the purchase of more than a social app, but a broader set of apps. Now, the argument could be made for something being more a dot or a sub-dot than a Pac-man, but we’re not here to argue those things. We’re here to see what has happened to these acquisitions, objectively. For the sake of including meat for dinner, let’s only talk about acquisitions that have marinated for nine months+ (I figure if it’s long enough to grow a baby, it’s long enough to make some progress.)
So what’s the point? It’s the same point we’ve been making for the last two years (seriously, look at the old blog posts.) Pac-man eats the dot and hopefully it uses it as the fuel needed to beat out the ghosts, aka competitors. Or in other situations, it’s the end user who has hunger pains after the acquisition.
There are so many things about social media engagement that are deemed to simple to write about anymore. Well ladies and gentlemen, let’s get tacky!
Tacky, or weird?
I know people are struggling with developing their individual social networks and their organization’s social networks and so in my first blog post of 2014, let’s talk about one of those things that everyone is afraid to ask about: how to organically build out your social network. What do I mean by organic? I mean not buying followers, not following people in hopes that they’ll follow you back in a move of courtesy.
You might say, “hey lady, you only have 1,800 followers.” And I might say, “I’m cool with that,” because for me, it’s okay to only have 1,800 followers. If 1,800 people are interested in what I have to say, that is enough pressure for an individual person. I’m not trying to sell anything via social media. I’m trying to meet and bond with cool people and for such an objective, a pot of 1,800 people ensures I am always amused.
But if your objective is a business objective – how do you even get to 1,800? Here is my rule of 3 for individuals and organizations looking to build out their social networks: for everyone one original post you create, you must retweet/share something someone else said, and comment on something someone else said. And here is why:
Create an original post because you want to show you have a mind – and that mind can come up with something unique. Maybe something unique is something about your business, maybe it is something you’re thinking of, the bottom line is this is your post to do what you want with.
Retweet or share to show you’re the kind of person who is willing to proliferate someone else’s message, if you think that message is a good one. This is the whole “you scratch my back, I scratch yours,” concept. We’re all a littler narcissistic folks. Pet an ego.
Comment on someone else’s post to engage with them. Building a real, meaningful network means you need to have a reciprocal feeling of relationship. So talk to the person! Start up a dialogue. Ask a question, make an observation. Encourage people to communicate with you, not at you. Set expectations that when someone enters into a relationship with you, you engage.
It’s quick, it’s easy, and now you don’t need to be embarrassed about asking. The truth is, we talk to clients about this a couple of times a week.
You don’t need to comment here if you don’t want to admit you looked at this – afterall, we are being tacky. But do, do me a favor: come find me at an upcoming event I’ll be at and let me know if you found this valuable. I promise not to rat you out Here is where I’ll be:
by Jenny Sussin | December 18, 2013 | Comments Off
Almost 18 months back, I wrote a blog post on the pac-manning of the social application market. The big vendors were gobbling up the small vendors and trying to outsmart their competitors. Yadda, yadda, yadda, it hasn’t stopped. And so while the mega vendors cobble together their social offerings and the entrepreneurs stay on as GMs or leave to start new companies, the people left in the lurch are the customers.
I know this isn’t a new story. M&A has been around since the beginning of business-time and changes in business performance have been a result ever since.
So in the spirit of the holiday season, let me present a seasonal take: a Christmas tale for each of our three characters: the acquirer, the acquiree, and the customer.
You are the modern day Santa Claus and you’ve earned it. What you’ve provided your customers over the years are gifts that help them keep their companies alive (and sometimes coal, but hey!) You’ve cobbled together a rag-tag bunch of reindeer to help you deliver your “gifts” via sleigh over the years but you’ve just found this new reindeer with a bright red nose to help light your way to a successful Christmas. As you bring this new reindeer, Rudolph, on board you need to keep one very important thing in mind. If you break Rudolph’s helpful, holiday spirit or if you are too busy teaching Rudolph how to guide your sleigh, to actually let him guide your sleigh, your customers who would ordinarily receive your gifts are going to be displeased and might stop believing in Santa Claus.
Rudolph with your nose so bright, everyone is going to want you to guide their sleigh tonight. At first the other reindeer laughed at you but the customers found you to be so interesting, useful, shiny and new that the other reindeer had to pay attention. Now Santa has courted you and you’re heading to the North Pole, the envy of all of your peers. Don’t forget it was the customers who got you there. You might have a shiny nose, but they figured out how to use it and they were so ecstatic about your nose that Santa took notice. When Santa brought you to the North Pole, you weren’t you anymore…and that is okay because you’re working toward a greater cause…but don’t lose emphasis on who helped you get where you are in an attempt to fit in or trump Santa’s other reindeer.
Sorry bro, you’re just a kid and life is a nightmare. We can hope Santa does the right thing, but sometimes Santa is just in the bright-nose collection business and doesn’t recognize Rudolph for anything but his good looks. But if you’re patient and give Rudolph, Santa and the other reindeer time to get to know each other, you may get more gifts, better gifts, coordinated gifts with no repeats. The question you have to ask yourself is do you have the time to wait for that dream to become a reality or should you start looking for a new reindeer?
There have been a lot of news articles and a lot of blog posts about Twitter’s change to it’s direct messaging rules – gist is, you can set your Twitter profile to allow people to direct message (DM) you even if you don’t follow them.
I’m not trying to repeat anything anyone has already said, so I’ll link to a couple of articles right now that will explain more if you want more:
Instead what I want to let our clients and readers of the Gartner blogs know that there are 5 quick things to keep in mind regarding this change and how it impacts your business.
This won’t stop customers from complaining publicly. People aren’t going to DM you instead of tweeting your transgressions out loud. That isn’t nearly as satisfying for them.
If someone complains publicly, you need to at a minimum begin your response publicly. If you need to take something to a DM or offline, you should, but you should also recognize that the Twittersphere doesn’t know you just called that menace @jsussin who complained about her lost luggage unless you tell them you’re going to call her.
You’re still going to need a multichannel customer service strategy. DMs don’t take the place of email and people will never view them as, as secure as email. And they’re not. You still need to work on that customer engagement center.
Individuals don’t need to open up their DM box to you, even though you open it up to them…but even if they do, don’t abuse it. Links aren’t the only thing you can send in a DM that can be spammy and you don’t want to get yourself a bad reputation, do you?
The DM should still be used lightly. In a world where we’re hell-bent on personalization, we’re going to want to send coupon codes and individualized messages to our customers. There are still times you want to shout from the rooftops that you love someone and propose to them on the jumbotron. He/she may still want to show off that affection to their friends. Keep that in mind.
And with that my friends, do your thing. If you have some more quick tips that you want to share, or if you have any comments or questions, use the comment thread!
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