Background: This is the second blog-post in a series of conversations with Social Media change agents, Social media thought-leaders, experts and mavens to answer some of the most important questions surrounding the subjects of Social media and Web2.0 ! The emphasis of this discussion series is to address ’socialmedia’ at a ground level and talk about the real world issues that are being faced by us on both sides of the road: i.e. as actual users and as consultants/agencies in this space.
At a personal level, I am a great fan of Anna’s The Engaging Brand podcast series which has been nominated for two years as the Best Business podcast. In addition, she consistently speaks and delivers workshops on branding, motivation and social media. You can read Anna’s blog or listen to her free weekly audio show at http://www.theengagingbrand.com
Excerpts from the conversation below:
1. Which are some of the best examples of social media adoption by brands that come to your mind?
I think it depends on the sector you are in or what you are trying to achieve through social media. You can’t get away from how Dell has turned themselves from a tired brand into one which really gives the sense of listening and being passionate about creating a community.
But I also love the small companies which have embraced social media. It is easier when you have 100,000’s of customers to gain a strong web presence but a small company called Wiggly Wigglers in the UK is a fantastic example of how social media can be used to grow your brand – through Facebook and through podcasting.
2. A CMO of a small network services company believes that his organization should embrace social media because their competitor is doing a bunch of exciting things in the space. Obviously, this isn’t a valid reason for his management to be convinced and he plans to present a thorough case to his stakeholders. What he would like to know his beyond the statistics and quantifiable benefits, how can he convince them about the value part about social media adoption? Is there a brand quotient formula which measures the emotional value of a brand online?
I like to think of return on emotion. Strong brands are emotive so I work with companies on how the online presence evokes positive emotion. This can be done in many ways – click through to sale, positive response, number of comments showing engagement, links etc.
Key is to know what you are using social media mainly for – driving sales directly or creating brand awareness. Never has it been so easy to measure the impact of your work and relatively cheaply. My main message is …start! Have a goal in mind, create a measurement against that goal and then constantly monitor and evolve the approach.
3. Despite demonstrating an open-culture, several brands seem to be apprehensive about ‘online-criticism’. Today, if somebody abuses my brand online I am not sure how do I handle it? Do we have a so-called best practices book about how to handle online criticism?
The important thing to realise is that criticism happens whether you are part of the community or whether you decide not to engage. The only way to have any degree of control, is to be part of that conversation so that you can turn the negative perception into a positive awareness. Criticism is happening and now is amplified to a global audience – so the question to me is why wouldn’t you want to be part of that discussion about your brand?
Couple of things to remember
a) Monitor the conversations so that you are aware of what people are saying.
b) Respond to the conversations – however, remember it is important to have coached people how to respond.
c) Remember feedback whether positive or negative is great feedback. Be careful that you don’t read it as pure negativity instead see it as free market research!
4. The social media evangelist in a FMCG firm is facing a unique problem. The employees in his organization are actively communicating externally via social networks, reading articles on Wikipedia and doing a whole bunch of other things. On the flip side, the enthusiasm level is very low when it comes to participating on internal wiki, the company’s discussion group. Perhaps it is a mental block in their mind, but nothing seems to help. Training sessions have been conducted, users have been encouraged to participate but the problem continues to exist.
Employees engage when they are part of the solution. When you “train” people you have almost forcing your idea on to them. I would rethink the approach by asking the evangelists to be part of a team who help design the internal social media strategy and also who help deliver it to the rest of the employees.
5. Which are the key industry verticals that haven’t embraced social media yet? What are the roadblocks for adoption?
Do you know I think there are great examples in most areas. I think as these best practice examples become more known you will see the rest of the industry follow. The sectors who I believe would most benefit from a higher engagement with social media are education, government and the entertainment industry. All of these depend on the degree of the strength of the relationship between the parties.
6. Everybody is aware about the variety of social-networks having specific purpose and objective. We’ve focused social-networks for business-networking and for friends. However, when it comes to real application we don’t seem to able set the rules about when to use what. Why?
Interesting question. I think the problem is that personal branding is now an important feature of your career. There is no distinction in reality between the you at work and the you at home. Indeed many people even work at home now. For me, I view it slightly differently. Is this something I want all my friends to know, or is it something that I just want my closest friends to know? If it is the latter then it does not get to the web…..after all the web is in essence fully public.
7. Social-networks, blogs, micro-blogs, social bookmarking, audio/video sharing….the list goes on. Now what next? What is it that is going to create an impact on the world?
My feeling is that the web will now evolve through consolidation. Therefore, creating platforms as a personal space which brings together all elements which is interesting to your life. I think you can see the future in ideas like Google Wave, Facebook/Friendfeed etc