Here are all of the posts tagged ‘corporate communications’.
Cristina Aced, a freelance journalist and consultant from Barcelona who wanted to know how a social media agency works in London, has spent three weeks with us here at We Are Social. She shares her point of view on the questions brands should ask themselves when embracing social media.
Should a company have a blog? Well, I’d reply: “It depends”. I usually say that it’s not a must to have a corporate blog (or a corporate Facebook profile, i.e.). It makes no sense that a firm has all these 2.0 tools if they are only a tactic. Of course, I think it’s important to monitor social media, in the same way firms follow what happens in mass media, but I defend they don’t have to create a blog just for the sake of it (as we explained in this study published in 2007). Web 2.0 is more than a fad; it should be part of an overall business strategy. The key questions firm should answer are: why do we want a blog?, what are our aims?, how can we integrate it with our strategy?
Yesterday, I was listening to a Spanish radio programme called “L’estiu en un blog” (Summer in a blog, COMRàdio), and they were talking about corporate blogs and how companies use them. They spoke about social media agencies and they quoted We Are Social as an example of best practice. It’s cool to hear the local radio in your hometown speaking about the international agency where you are spending a few weeks (The podcast is available here, but only in Catalan).
Some colleagues ask me if the way of working in social media here in London is different to Spain. I think processes are very similar: the research, the same tools for social media monitoring etc. However, the critical point is strategy. Here, in London, both agency and clients rely on (and believe in) strategy. In Spain, there are professionals able to formulate a social media strategy, but clients still don’t understand the meaning of this. Most of them consider Web 2.0 as just as another tool. That’s the problem. I think I’ll miss the willingness to learn and to understand the new reality that clients have here in the UK. I like the way We Are Social works: brainstorms, working as a team, but most of all, their strategic approach.
I love this 2.0 philosophy, this conversational way of doing things. We Are Social really is a conversation agency, just as they define themselves. It’s my last day here, but the conversation will go on, as the internet breaks boundaries of time and space. Welcome to the age of conversation…
In a world where media is global, social, ubiquitous and cheap. In a world of media where the former audience are now increasingly full participants. In that world, media is less and less often about crafting a single message to be consumed by individuals and is more and more often a way of creating an environment for convening and supporting groups. And the choice we face, and I mean anybody who has a message they want to have heard anywhere in the world, isn’t whether that’s the media environment we want to operate in – that’s the media environment we’ve got. The question we all face now is how do we make the best use of this medium, even though it means changing the way we’ve always done it.
Forrester have just released a new research report called looking at how companies should organise to best deal with social media, which as well as giving the data above, answers the questions “Which roles do we need” and “Which department is in charge”.
They recommend that the best approach to organising for social media is for companies to form “a cross functional team that includes representatives from different departments and groups and is responsible for social media strategy and implementation” – which we agree with. Social media crosses all organisational boundaries, and as we said back in January, the most effective engagements tend to be when we’re working with a combination of the Marketing, PR, Customer Service and Research departments.
The biggest challenge brands often have to overcome isn’t technology but managing cultural change within the enterprise. With an ever-increasing number of brands engaging in social media marketing in recent years, companies need to not only be properly budgeted but also well organized. Once brands experiment with social activities, they must then organize from the inside out — or risk not properly staffing or responding to customers. Brands need to integrate social into their companies by developing a safe place for employees to experiment, creating a process to manage and measure these programs, and integrating social into other marketing and enterprise systems. Above all, brands must organize their companies in the hub-and-spoke model [a cross functional team], which allows business units to be flexible with their social programs — but provides a grounded center that enables the company to act efficiently.
Update: David Armano asks Is The Hub And Spoke Model Adaptable?
You may remember that Peter spoke at Disruptive Media in Stockholm in early December. During the conference he was interviewed by the Editor of Sweden’s Internet World magazine, and the resulting article hit the presses a couple of weeks ago (original version in Swedish).
He talked about the need for organisations to be open and honest about the way they act and communicate with the people who care about them – whether they be customers, suppliers, shareholders or the general public. Talking to these people on their own turf, whether that be using blogs or other forms of social media, is a good way to start.
I’ve been bugging Peter to blog about this himself for a while, but he’s obviously too modest about his new found fame in Sweden.
Advertising Age reports on a study of 400 CMOs (that’s Marketing Directors in English):
Only 16% of respondents said their companies have any routine system in place for monitoring what people are saying about them or their brands online.
The survey comes, however, as big marketers are paying growing attention to monitoring and leveraging social media. Procter & Gamble has a Social Media Lab that’s about 18 months old, and Unilever last month hosted a word-of-mouth summit at its US headquarters dedicated largely to understanding how social media affect its brands.
Another big marketer, Johnson & Johnson, became acutely aware of the trouble social media can cause when complaints on the microblogging site Twitter led it to pull the plug on an ad campaign for Motrin in November.
One problem for marketing executives is that they’re not clearly in charge now of managing the customer experience, customer loyalty or social media today, given that public-relations, sales, consumer-affairs and research-and-development departments all have a stake in those areas now.
Donovan Neale-May, executive director of the CMO Council, said marketing should take the lead in overseeing the customer experience and satisfaction. And he said addressing deficiencies in tracking and analyzing consumer feedback and buzz may be the key way CMOs can stake a claim to leadership.
This accurately reflects reality as we experience it – we work into both Marketing and Corporate Communications Directors on different clients. Although the most effective engagements tend to be when we’re working with a combination of the Marketing, PR, Customer Service and Research departments, there’s clearly a land grab in progress. It’s those that commission us whose careers’ are seeming to benefit – and not just for the mercenary reasons the CMO council gives, but because they’re the ones doing the valuable learning as social media changes the face of business for ever…
“Corporate communications have radically changed” says Andy Sernovitz, chief executive of the Blog Council, an organisation for heads of social media at big companies. “It’s no longer just companies talking to the press, and customer service talking to customers. All these other people showed up in the -middle. They may not be press and they may not be customers, but suddenly their collective voice is bigger than the traditional channels.”
The essence of social media is conversation. Rather than a one-way stream of information, where companies make announcements to the press and customers, social media enables a great deal of interaction, where companies are in constant dialogue with the public. “We’ve seen a shift from doing things the old way to now having conversations with our customers,” says Jeanette Gibson, director of new media for Cisco Systems.
The above comes from an article in today’s FT, about as mainstream a business publication as you can get, a sign that perhaps Europe is beginning to hear the siren call of the changes that social media is bringing to business. Again, Twitter is on the agenda:
Companies are using Twitter to douse public relations fires before they erupt. Scott Monty, head of social media for Ford Motors, used Twitter to appease users who were angry after the carmaker sued an enthusiast website that was selling unauthorised Ford merchandise. When fans of the enthusiast site posted angry messages, Mr Monty “tweeted back” to explain the company’s position.
Bonin Bough, who was appointed director of social media for PepsiCo last year, also used Twitter to defuse a brewing crisis after the company released a series of advertisements depicting a cartoon calorie character committing suicide.
We’d not disagree with this – in fact we’ve been pioneering this approach on behalf of Skype since last year (and Scott Monty is a friend of the family, so to speak), but the focus should be on the overall conversation, of which Twitter is yet just a small part – forums and blogs are likely to remain the most significant venues for some appreciable time (this will vary, of course, depending on the sector you’re in – for example, if you’re Sony BMG, MySpace won’t have lost its significance just yet).
However, Melissa Bounoua’s article in Forbes earlier in the week makes a valid point:
Most European companies haven’t even heard of Twitter, and some might think it’s a time waster. A spokeswoman for energy firm Total says that Chief Executive Christophe de Margerie has no idea what Twitter is. British Telecom says it doesn’t have a Twitter account and doesn’t plan to open one. Nestle’s communications manager says using Twitter “just never came up within the group strategy.” In general, experts say Europeans don’t latch on to new social networking technologies as quickly as Americans.
I’d swap ‘Europeans’ with ‘European companies’ – as far as the general population is concerned, Europe is ahead of the US – with a higher proportion of the UK population using social networking and Twitter than the US (and the rest of Europe broadly comparable) and all of Europe but Germany and Austria way ahead in terms of blog readership.
However, despite the FT’s urging, her analysis is sadly correct when it comes to European companies. We are here to help…