First, I know I haven’t been blogging as much as I “should.” I’m not the first person to have trouble finding time to blog. I am not the best at balancing my personal and professional life and time. I am not the only person who has ever made the “I’ve been too busy” excuse. I am not one of a kind, nor am I best in class.
Alright, I came clean: social application vendors, it is time that you do the same.
Gartner follows over 150 vendors in the social for CRM space. I alone have 152 files on vendors I have been briefed by, many of them multiple times over the past 2 years…and there are multiple products under each of those vendors, mind you. And the point is: the likelihood that the product I am being demo-ed is the first, the only or the best is very, very minimal.
Jennifer Lawrence's impression of any analyst who hears the words "first," "only" or "best."
And so now, the constructive part of this post.
Vendors: it is okay. You don’t need to be the first, only or best to be different. When you talk to an analyst and when you pitch potential clients, be cool. TELL ME WHAT YOU DO. Don’t give me marketing lingo. Tell me what you do and hopefully you know what you’re doing well and can hone in on it. If you don’t know what you do well, because you couldn’t possibly have an eye on an entire marketplace because that isn’t your day job, guess whose day job it is?
End users: I can only imagine how confused you are. I hear it every day from our clients. The irrational short lists. The pure confusion in people’s voices. If you look at any social application vendor’s web page, it’ll look like they all do the same thing. Sure there are some exceptions, but for the most part 80% of vendors are out there saying, “we’re a social media management system! We do it all. Marketing? Yes. Customer service? Sure. Sales? Of course, you can make millions in new revenue through social! Branding! Engagement! Analytics! Buzzzzzzzz” Here is the simplest advice I can give: know what you want and what you need. Shop around. If you’re a client, you can just call us. We’ve sat through a lot of briefings and talked to a lot of customer references (both happy and unhappy) so that we can let you know, what we know.
A message to all: know who you are as a vendor or an end user. Know what makes you unique. Understand that not everything is always going to be perfect and stay humble but emphasize your best features and where you are looking to grow.
Gartner clients, look at our vendor guides and top use cases research to gain a better understanding of what the differences between social use cases and the vendor’s that serve them. If you have some more questions, just set up an inquiry and we can talk through them.
Clients and non-clients: is there anything else that is confusing you that needs further definition? Tell me about it in the Comments section below. And now, because we all miss this…
This morning I was talking to my colleague Gene Alvarez about embarrassing things that have happened in work environments. Stains on shirts, mismatching socks and as I explained to Gene, a run in my pantyhose.
Men will never quite understand a run in the pantyhose. As women, we go through tens of pairs of pantyhose a year as they constantly rip but are the only acceptable garment for pairing with a dress or skirt. We know when we buy the ‘hose that they’re going to rip. Every morning you put on a pair of pantyhose it’s a gamble. “Will they rip today?” You come to close to some velcro, sit on a seat the wrong way, and they’re gone.
But the reason it’s so embarrassing, the run in the pantyhose, is because you never notice right away. You’ve been walking around with the run for an hour, talking to other people, when all of the sudden you look and see. No one told you, they all noticed but they all figured you knew and were trying to be polite.
All social media managers and all business leaders know there is some sort of risk to having all of their communications be so public, real-time and accessible. They also know there is a reward. They want to cover up their legs while wearing a dress. They have to! But they also recognize their is the risk of an unnoticed run. So ladies, social media managers, does the risk of a run outweigh the reward of proper dress versus bare legs and no social media presence?
Personally, I’d rather have the run in my ‘hose. It has happened to me before. Jumping analogies let me be clear, I have had a run in my ‘hose, I have never had my Twitter account hacked. But let’s talk damages now. What actually happened as a result of the BK account being taken over and singing the praises of McDonalds?
Publicity happened. Sure BK had a little egg on their face because it took them over an hour to do anything about the hacked account, but did they lose any business? No. Are people talking about Burger King? Absolutely. Has it impacted BK sales favorably? I’d bet not, but the bottom line is it didn’t hurt them and now more people are bothering to tlak about BK than they did before.
Competitors showed their humanity. Did McDonald’s jump on the opportunity to say, “hey look, even Burger King likes us?” No. They did the opposite actually and expressed their sympathies for the situation. In a political and competitive world, to me that was a refreshing sentiment.
We more publicly entered into the risk versus reward conversation. Clients ask us all of the time if the data privacy and security risk is worth it when contemplating a social for CRM strategy. So I ask, is the potential for a run in your pantyhose, worth the reward of cost savings on marketing campaign impressions? The increased revenue from coupon-holders entering your establishment after opting in to a Facebook deal? Do you know what the reward even is?
I’m sorry for Burger King’s social media manager, and Jeep’s, but I’m sort of happy this happened because now I want to challenge everyone reading this post. Do you know what you’re trying to accomplish with social? If it’s CRM, what are your marketing, sales and service objectives? How are you determining if you’ve been successful? And hey, what are the risks associated with what you’re doing OR not doing? If Burger King didn’t have an official Twitter handle, you can bet someone else would have created a mock one for them.
Two things to think about and comment on if you would:
If you were Burger King’s social media manager, what would you have done differently?
Have you (honestly) bothered to draw up a risk vs. reward scenario for your social presence?
The grammatical and spelling errors in this post…I know.
I recognize even writing this blog post and the nature of my job alone makes me somewhat of a hypocrite for writing this, but the idea struck and I had to.
So today I’m sitting at my desk and a particular group of sales guys walk by. I see them every day and every day they’re just bro-ing out. Totally loving each other, ripping on each other, being a little too loud, lots of movement. They never travel alone and there are a lot of “yeah man”s. It’s amusing to watch.
I realized the same thing is going on in our industry. It’s a social media “bro” fest. We’ve got a ton of bros, that I’ll categorize into two groups: the “it’s all about experience” bros and the “Twitter is too noisy” bros.
This picture just cracked me up.
The “its all about experience” bros are all just “going rogue” maven-ing it up together, spreading the good word about how “the man” is right or wrong for how they approach social within their business or maybe how large firms *cough cough* cover social in the wrong way and how they’re all so right and the rest of the world is wrong and how nobody understands because everyone else is stupid.
STOP putting pictures like this on the internet where they are readily accessible to the public. C'mon!
Enough already. We know, we all know, that there are components to social business which we simply can not measure in numbers or direct profits. WE GET IT. But guess what, it is what executives want to see. And guess what x2, those executives are allotting the money to fit your clients bill. So guess what, sometimes people communicate about a numbers game. And I get that if you are the day to day practitioner, trying to please your execs and your social constituents is an almost winless game, but please recognize bros as bros and just consider checking out some other sources before defining your social media reality.
And on the other side of the equation are the “Twitter is too noisy” group of bros, the people who only care about numbers and have never tweeted about a mysterious stain on their shirt or the madness happening in the cafeteria, at the bar, or while walking through a park, you’re a bro in your own right. You’re in the group of bros that is too cool for social media, the “frivolous” part anyway. The part where we do things aside from talking about our jobs and what we’re trying to sell. The part where we leave embarrassing comments for our friends on their Facebook walls. The part where we’ve posted frameworks to Pinterest.
The message I’m trying to get across is this: strike a balance and recognize that just because someone doesn’t use a social network specifically for what you’re using it for doesn’t make them wrong, or stupid, or frivolous. You’re not smarter than everyone else because you’re trying to sell or really, prove how smart you are on a public social network. In fact, I would almost call this bro-type of behavior, on either end, obnoxious – just as bros are in real life.
I don’t have thousands of followers on Twitter. I have more friends on Facebook then most other “social media experts” (I’m cringing right now.) I only check LinkedIn sporadically. I am probably on YouTube every day. I share what I want and I have a bunch of different constituencies who I am confident are all smart enough to read through the noise they don’t want. But guess what, these people know me. Strangers I’ve interacted with on Twitter know more about me than those sales guys probably know about each other. Engaging on social and preaching the good word of social media is more than being loud and giving one another pats on the back. It’s about day to day interaction and connection with people who you never would have connected with before that makes social channels special.
Resist the urge to pop your collar, that is all I ask.
The holiday shopping season is upon us with Black Friday descending upon the US next week. In a blaze of glory we wake up at 4 am and run to the mall to get a discount on a TV and some sweaters at 40% off.
While you develop your plan of attack, and I literally mean plan of attack for getting in and out of stores at the pre-dawn hours, odds are you’ll check out some product reviews and determine which products you should look to get the most bang for your buck. This will ring especially true for those of us who will wait for Cyber Monday to do some online shopping, avoiding physical lines that wrap around city blocks.
See as we’ve discussed before, more than 30% of consumers consult online product and service reviews before making a purchasing decision and as we’ve discussed before a lot of their reviews are fake, false, bologna, spam, disingenuous – get the picture? After doing some initial research on this topic, my colleague (Ed Thompson) and I decided we were going to dig a bit deeper and find out what review sites like Yelp, TripAdvisor, Expedia and OpenTable are doing to protect our, the consumers’, best interest and provide us with the most honest, accurate reviews possible. These guys aren’t the only ones trying to address the issue of fake reviews. Social software vendors like Bazaarvoice, Reevoo, Trustpilot and Yotpo work with popular consumer brands who host reviews on their own sites, like Target.com, to thwart phonies from posting reviews. We’ll get deeper into the muck in our formal written research set to publish over the next few months, but in the meantime here is what you need to know about how these sites and vendors who have your best interest at heart (we hope) are working to be sure the reviews you see come from real peers and not marketers.
There are two main ways to go about this:
1. With the help of text and sentiment analytic algorithms
2. With the help of humans: employees and the site audience
Both the automated and human detection look at things similar to what we as the consumer would look at to see if a review is fake and it goes deeper than the intuitive “one of these things is not like the other“:
Has the reviewer ever posted to our site before?
What other types of product has the reviewer looked at?
Is the review overly extreme – positive or negative?
When looking at a series of reviews: were they posted almost simultaneously? Back-to-back-to-back?
How similar are the reviews to one another? Are they specifically mentioning the same criteria?
But this is all stuff you can look up online. You don’t need my blog to tell you this. What I want to do is return a sense of decency and calm to my jaded audience (who is jaded because I have asked them to question all that surrounds them on social media.)
I want to tell you who you can trust this time. You can trust people you have a personal relationship with. For example, many review vendors and review sites are asking members to create an ID using their social profile. Take a look at which companies or products your Facebook friends endorse. Ask them about the endorsement. Take the review site’s methodology into account. Anyone can contribute to Yelp or TripAdvisor, giving those sites a larger sampling of reviews to pull the average of. But OpenTable, Expedia and Reevoo require you’ve made a reservation for a service or purchased a product from a business before you are asked for a review. There will be less reviews but the reviews which are there were written by people who’ve actually purchased the product or invested in the service.
Nothing is foolproof. Rival hotels could book a night at one anothers’ establishments for the privilege of posting a negative review, but this more costly approach is a deterrent as compared to the quick login and seamless post on a free review site. TripAdvisor and Yelp are doing their due diligence to prevent fake reviews from ruining their good name and personally, I know I look at those sites before making a purchase. The advice I’m giving is to take an average. Look at multiple sites. We’re not using dial up anymore, it’ll only take a few seconds.
There are two points of view that matter when it comes to social marketing execution: the vision of the strategist and the execution of the LOB professional. Execution should be based on strategy as well all know but frequently the mindsets of these individuals are so far apart that recognizing mutually agreed upon success becomes near impossible. Without taking anything away from the strategist, I hear way too much focus put on strategy and not nearly enough put on how we’re actually going to bring said strategy to fruition. Saying “Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, Flickr” in a project plan does not make it an execution plan. If you’ve never been in the position to execute on a social strategy, this may be French to you (unless you speak French, then think of it as Japanese.)
Execution requires specificity: owned properties, timing, planning, content creation, content curation, permissions, cross-teaming, reporting, etc. It is essentially getting it (or you know what) done.
Strategy requires vision and a greater understanding of how the business makes money or saves money so that they can set up the social strategy in a way that impacts the business in one way or the other. Again, I am not taking anything away from the work put into execution; what I am saying is that these are the dominant thoughts in each party’s brain and that is why we have a gap.
So what’s the point? This is something I even look to do for myself I’ll have you know. I didn’t seek to play the role of the strategist although that is where I am if we want to get philosophical about the analyst’s role. I like to execute, I find it to be challenging, stressful, anxiety-provoking and ultimately rewarding. So what I try to do is find a place to do both: get the experience of someone who executes so that I can take on the role of strategist. I think of it this way: if I never took the time to try and understand the pot holes along the way to social execution on behalf of a business (which is vastly different than having your own Twitter handle) how could I possibly offer any realistic advice on strategy to a company who is going to have a former Jenny Sussin sitting there trying to get it done? Strategists: do it yourself first. Understand why you can’t only have one Twitter handle for a multinational corporation. Understand why I’m not going to make a Facebook page for every marketing campaign we run. Understand why it doesn’t make any sense for us to have a corporate Pinterest account.
My buddies who are over there tweeting and blogging and creating 400 Facebook pages: reel it back in. Listen to what the strategist is saying about how your work impacts the corporate image. Stop rolling your eyes when I ask you to use the same bit.ly every time you post about a new offer on our corporate web site. Understand that your top priorities need to be balanced with everyone else’s.
It’s been two months since I’ve last blogged. Many corporate executives, celebrities and politicians aren’t even blogging for themselves. They aren’t even tweeting for themselves (although I think Chelsea Handler is because she thanked me one time on Twitter and I felt the truth in it.)
While I may not be Justin Bieber (take a moment to acknowledge how sick you are of him…and continue)
Jimmy Fallon as Justin Bieber
I feel like there are times, in this case the last two months, where I am straight up too busy or burnt out to blog. I don’t want to give you half of me – I may be a delinquent, but at least I’m not a phony and I will never let someone blog or tweet on my behalf. Can I get an AMEN?!
Let’s get down to business: phonies. Holden Caulfield wasn’t down with them and while I’m no longer an overly dramatic teenager, I can say I’ve got beef.
Some of you may have seen the recent press release Gartner had issued that centered on some research the smarter British version of me (Ed Thompson) and I had done a few months back on the number of social media-based likes, comments, fans and reviews that are phony. I had some Twitter conversations over the last week with some of you so I’ll explain a little bit to you all who don’t have access to Gartner research but need a little more Sussompson (that’s a combo of Ed and I.)
Here’s what you need to know:
Consumers’ increased reliance on social media ratings and reviews will see enterprise spending on paid social media ratings and reviews increase, making up 10% to 15% of all reviews by 2014.
Increased media attention to fake social media ratings and reviews will result in at least two Fortune 500 brands facing litigation from the U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC) over the next two years.
Consumer perception of tightened government regulation and increased media exposure of fake social media ratings and reviews will increase consumer trust in new and existing social media ratings and reviews.
These aren’t random numbers but very conservative extrapolations of surveys and studies from Econsultancy and Cornell University. I’m not trying to freak anyone out because I check Yelp and TripAdvisor on the regular, but from the consumer perspective, the audience I’m trying to reach in this blog post – look at more than one source, would ya? Look through the reviews for the product/service/trip you’re looking at. What is consistent? What doesn’t fit in with the other reviews? Are there pictures? How detailed are we getting? Catch those phonies.
What if you’re reading a CEO’s blog? What information do you know about the CEO? Is there anything remotely personal or relate-able in what is written? Are there long running references, maybe mini jokes for the consistent reader? Don’t allow yourself to be delusional, and I say demand genuine engagement from your resources on social media.
If you’re reading this from the business perspective and what you should be doing about it – you’ve unfortunately or fortunately got to have access to the full research on Gartner.com.
What do you think? Do you think we’re being too conservative? Too crazy? Are you frustrated with obviously fake reviews? Have you ever been duped?
PS – As always, spelling errors and grammatical errors are always abundant. I know.
So Jimmy Kimmel does this thing on his show where he’s started having celebrities read mean tweets that were posted in regards to the celebrities. These are definitely worth watching as they’re super funny, but there is something else Mr. Kimmel says that brings up a good point: people regularly say/write things that they don’t take accountability for.
I imagine a conversation taking place between between the guy who called Will Ferrell “dum” and Will Ferrell going something like this:
WF: “Dude, why did you call me ‘dum’?”
Guy: “No, I mean, it’s this joke my friend always says. It was an inside joke. It was like, this inside joke we have.”
WF: “You didn’t even spell ‘dumb’ correctly.”
Guy: “No that’s part of the joke. I know how to spell ‘dumb,’ I spell things every day so it’s not that I don’t know how to spell ‘dumb.’ I was really tired and I had spent the last 8 hours writing and then the ‘B’ key on my keyboard is stuck and I sent the tweet out for review before it was published and the reviewer missed it too.”
Here is the point I am making: no one knows how to admit they’re wrong anymore. I’m guilty of it too, we all are. We’re all willing too take credit for something that goes over well, but not for something which is controversial or just straight up wrong. This is something I see coming to the forefront even more often with corporate social media. Some of you may be familiar with YouTube’s recent decision to ask users to use their real name in an attempt to clean up spammy comments.
People were up in arms! “How could they?!” One person even commented on the PC World article I’d linked to above that they don’t want their name associated with something they chose to do in their spare time. Then don’t do it! This goes for corporate social media as well. Everyone wants to be involved, but at the end of the day, no one wants their name attached to the channel because what if something goes wrong? If something goes right, we can all take credit and claim it was our idea, but if something goes wrong, someone went rogue, it wasn’t our fault.
I have been there, and I get that you don’t want your name associated with a page that you don’t have final say or control over — but then the answer to “whose name do we put on this?” is the person who will take accountability at the end of the day. You want to know why executives get paid so much money? Because at the end of the day, there is no where else to push the buck and they need to take accountability for the actions of their constituents (See: every CEO ever fired.)
My advice for today is to learn how to gracefully accept fault as well as praise. Remember:
Feel free to point out all of the grammatical errors in this post, in the spirit of my rant on accountability.
The reason I’d asked people to comment on that last post by filling in the blank was that I want them (and the other lurkers) to recognize why their colleagues/employees/boss don’t think their social strategy is brilliant.
Here were some people’s initial responses to Twitter: “What a random load of crap!” “Who really needs to know that I am having a coffee?” “Why would I want my SMS to be public?” “Why would anyone need something like this?” I think one of the most interesting responses was “I posted some stat about how x% of people tweeted once and never did it again…and then didn’t post again for 8 months.”
From my experience both personally/professionally and in speaking with clients, many of us get a similar reaction when we’re trying to explain our concept for a corporate social strategy to our colleagues/employees/boss. The “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it!” However to them we say something like “ignorance isn’t bliss,” or “our competitors are doing it.” Those arguments unfortunately don’t stand up in “court” and at the end f the day you look like this guy/gal:
Each of these initial perceptions correlates to a common misconception people have about business use of social software (both internally and externally facing, across every which use case in every industry in every region —> it’s that scale.) So let’s start with our first one:
“What a random load of crap!” AND “Who really needs to know that I am having a coffee?”
First recognize what is actually being said. What they’re really saying is: “where is the value in having masses of people deliver constant updates?” So answer the actual question. Don’t pretend some of the updates won’t be personal, they will. So where is the value? How do I extract it?
“Why would I want my SMS to be public?”
The question here is centered around two misconceptions. 1: Every conversation I used to have via email, text or phone will now be posted to a social network. 2. Social software doesn’t have privacy settings. Do yourself a favor and correct these. On the first one, explain when each channel is to be used. Put a little work into considering when which channel would be used — think about the employees who will have to be executing on this.
“Why would I need something like this?”
You don’t need my help figuring out how to broach this one, but this is something I want you to understand. If this was the perception of people who are regular tweeters now then imagine speaking to them three years ago and THAT is who you are dealing with. Get to work.
“I posted some stat about how x% of people tweeted once and never did it again…and then didn’t post again for 8 months.”
You as the social media manager should be providing stats so that people don’t think that it is their job to be the reporter. Tell them what you want them to do on the network. Hopefully you don’t have a company full of reporters and have some doers.
So I obviously left some questions to be asked as it is the business I am in, but I’d love to have the commenting section open for peer debate. Gartner clients, feel free to reach out through Inquiries and set something up if you’d like to discuss this one further.
I remember the first time I heard about Twitter. It was 2008 and a new colleague had just moved over to the team I was interning for. He was tasked with teaching our team about collaboration technologies and so I humored my boss (because I was an intern and hadn’t started acting out yet) and hopped on the phone with this guy.
“Have you ever heard of Twitter?” We went over to Twitter.com and I thought to myself and said out loud (I’ve never had a good filter:) “So this is a site where you just post Facebook status updates?”
This is the first in a two part blog post. What I want to know first – without any sort of justification about what changed your mind – is what you thought when you learned about Twitter for the first time.
Fill in the blank: When I first heard about Twitter, I thought ______
Remember Pac-Man? He used to eat all of those little dots until there were none left and he could run freely? Of course there were the ghosts but sometimes Pac-Man would eat a special little dot and then he could eat the ghosts too. This is the social CRM market.
In the past two weeks there have been three significant acquisitions in this space involving players previously included on the magic quadrant for social CRM [clients only] aka “the big dogs” in this space.
What’s a dot to do? Why does Pac-Man insist on eating these dots? Pac-Man needs these dots to not only score points (make more $$) but he also hopes he’ll eat one of the magic dots and be able to turn on the ghosts (his competition) instead of having the ghosts following his every move, looking to take him down. Making sense? If you’ve lost me already, you may want to call this post quits and try back another day.
One of the most interesting things a vendor has ever asserted to me is that the social CRM space is a “land grab game.” Eating littler dots might not mean making as much money, but it still clears away the dots, getting Pac-Man closer to his goal of total domination of the puzzle board. Pac-man understands he can’t ever be the ONLY hungry guy on the board, but he wants the ghosts to know he has a magic dot/trick up his sleeve.
So let’s talk dots: Vitrue, PowerReviews, Buddy Media. Why would Pac-man eat these dots? These dots are each strong competition for another competitor in the market. Vitrue and Buddy Media were competitors in the social marketing, specifically Facebook marketing, space. In terms of Bazaarvoice buying PowerReviews, let’s put it this way: if Bazaarvoice was Pac-man, then PowerReviews was one of their ghosts.
This may win funniest cartoon I've seen in a while...
So let’s talk about “the” ghosts: Oracle, Bazaarvoice, Salesforce. They’re all Pac-man and they’re all ghosts, it depends who you talk to. They’re all looking to expand their social CRM business. In the case of Oracle and Salesforce, they’re trying to complete an offering and remain competitive with one another. In the case of Bazaarvoice, they had the opportunity to eat a ghost.
CHILL WITH THE PAC-MAN, SUSSIN, AND TELL ME WHAT I NEED TO KNOW
I’ve told you, we’ve told you, and we’ll say it again: this market is going to continue through a period of consolidation for another 12-18 months. What you, the reader, are going to do about that depends on your position. If you are a client, I would urge you to take a look at some of the First Takes on these acquisitions (looking for upcoming notes by Adam Sarner and Gene Alvarez) where we go a bit more in depth about what each acquisition means to the Pac-man, the dot and the ghosts.
Let me know what you think in the comments section here. Also please call out my typos, I know you all love that.
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