Here are all of the posts tagged ‘listening’.
They’re also not the sort of company you would immediately assume would be ahead of the curve in terms of social media – they’re the world’s largest multi-channel home electronics retailer (similar to Currys or Comet in the UK) who have recently made moves into Europe with the acquisition of 50% of Carphone Warehouse’s European stores (and with rumours they may go further than that).
It’s also worth finding out more about Best Buy Connect, Blue Shirt Nation (a community for Best Buy Employees), how they use customer reviews, their recently launched API and looking at how they use their own forums and Get Satisfaction to support their customers.
Let’s finish with a 4 minute video looking at Best Buy’s internal use of social media followed by a 20 minute interview with Best Buy’s CEO Brad Anderson talking about the issues in detail:
A very important part of what we do at We Are Social consists in helping brands engage in social media by having meaningful conversations with people and igniting positive word of mouth. So as I was watching Loïc Le Meur’s video on ‘How to launch a product using your community’, I thought it was a brilliant illustration of why word of mouth is so important. As it’s in French, I’ll try and recap some key learnings here.
According to Loïc, traditional advertising, PR and marketing are all still very valid but are nowhere near as important as the power of word of mouth. He illustrates this by saying that when you are about to buy a product, what you want is to know what your friends think about it before you purchase it. You want to know what your community has to say about that product.
And to be honest, in some ways, this has always been the case. In the past, we would probably have asked our neighbors, colleagues or ‘real’ friends what they thought about product X or Y. Nowadays, those conversations about products and brands alike are happening online. And rather than transiently involving two or three of your friends, these conversations can now potentially reach millions of people and are permanent (as they’ll appear in Google’s results for ever). This is good if the conversation is positive and not so good otherwise.
Loïc adds another interesting point about online conversations: the years 1993-2000 were about static media – i.e. the online environment was a reproduction of traditional media; since 2000, we’ve seen the explosion of what we refer to as ‘social media’ – i.e. people interacting with people but also brands, via blogs, social networks, etc. And now, as Loïc highlights, since the beginning of 2009, the web has entered a new area. People still want to interact with their community but they want to do so in real time, via Twitter or Facebook statuses for example. Which means that when people talk about products and brands, they also do it in real time.
Hence the importance of listening and responding in real time as Robin was highlighting in his interview with emarketer ‘Social Media: Joining the conversation’. And both Seesmic & Twhirl are a great examples of brands who have understood the importance of listening in real time to the community’s feedback, to get insights into what’s good, or not so good about their products. And Loïc is the first one to say that this means sometimes he’s checking Twitter Search at 3am to read about the community feedback and to reply to it. Because Loïc knows that if 1,000 of Seesmic’s fans are convinced about the product, they’ll tell another 10,000 of their friends about how great the product is.
It’s all about ‘micro interactions’ as David Armano calls them. It’s about turning your fans into brand advocates. And it works – this is how how he managed to get Seesmic Desktop application downloaded 1.5 million times in a few days. This is the power of word of mouth.
Thinking Digital has been one of the most varied and stimulating events I’ve been to and it’s no surprise there’s been a lot of talk about social media and engaging your consumers.
Alex Hunter (@cubedweller on Twitter), who was also a panellist at the social media masterclass, had a talk of his own at the conference yesterday. Alex is head of web at Virgin Group, and a true social media evangelist. He talked about how he’s reshaping the Virgin Group website and transforming it into a social platform for Virgin’s customers. Much of his talk drew from the Cluetrain Manifesto but wasn’t just a rehash of that; he shared his own thoughts. He emphasised that people don’t want to talk to brands, they want to talk to people – and so Virgin has put people as part of its strategy, helped by the fact it’s one of the few brands already inextricably associated with a person, namely Richard Branson.
Interesting, of all the corporate blogs, Alex regards Digg‘s as the best – not just because it’s written by the guys at the top like Kevin Rose, but because there is a multiplicity of voices and they respond to their fans. But then, as a social media site, Digg know the audience they’re blogging for, and as a new brand they’re more confident in experimenting. It’s harder for non-tech brands, so I’d use Digg as one example of good corporate blogging, but not the only one.
Alex was evangelistic about embracing social media in the business word, and made it clear it works for brands big and small (citing Qype and Zappos as examples). We also got some insights in the new Virgin philosophy – they have “labs”-style projects at Explore Virgin, which has produced Virgin Eye a beautiful visualisation of mentions of their brands on the web (from over 5,000 sources).
This isn’t just dabbling, however. Virgin plan to relaunch their website as a social platform, opening up to allow people to talk about their brand and products and upload their own content. They’ve been savvy to link up with Digg and Facebook Connect to utilise existing social media properties rather than reinvent the wheel. They have also put an impressive effort into research – a year and a half listening, researching and creating before launching their new social platform to make sure it fits the people who use it. It was an impressive example to others: not just in how to embrace social media, but how important it is to know the community you want to build around.
eMarketer have released a new report, “UK Social Media: Joining the Conversation” which is a useful compendium of the latest stats on social media usage in the UK, along with some spot-on commentary and advice from the author of the report, Karin von Abrams:
No commercial enterprise can afford to ignore social media
As part of her research for the report, Karin conducted an interview with me which she’s been kind enough to let me publish here:
Understanding how to behave in social media is easy: be nice or leave.
A succinct, simple truth that applies to social situations, both on and offline. However it’s more than just a catchphrase. As background, Faris explains the interplay of relationships, trust and relevance:
Social media is centred on people talking to each other, one to one and one to many, establishing and reinforcing different kinds of relationships.
Advertising has clung to the idea that communication is about the transmission of messages, but most communication transmits little semantically. The function of the interaction is phatic — it establishes and reinforces relationships. Status updates don’t transmit data — they keep relationships alive.
Brands need to find a way to be relevant in social media. Research from Universal McCann has found that people are more likely to believe a random blog post than a TV commercial. As consumers spend more time consuming each other’s content, share of mainstream media will erode.
But thinking about social media with a media buying mindset isn’t going to help. As Russell Davies has observed:
Blogging is mostly a social thing, social norms apply, especially between bloggers. But, naturally enough, when brands want to engage with bloggers they act as though market norms apply; to most brands, blogs are just another media choice.
Social media isn’t media, it’s social, and as Faris remarks, people are both emotional and rational:
Economics has espoused the myth of homo economicus — a rational being, who makes cost-benefit analyses in every situation and will respond to a monetary incentive with an increased
propensity to perform an action. This is nonsense. You can test this: next time someone cooks you a meal, to show your appreciation and encourage this behaviour, leave a tip.
Social and commercial behaviour don’t mix. Acting commercially in social spaces can seem insulting, which is perhaps why corporations have found it difficult to act socially.
Or, as Russell Davies puts it:
When social exchanges and market exchanges are mixed up people get uncomfortable.
This is “an entirely different behavioural grammar for marketers,” so Faris outlines the approach brands should take, pointing out that “the media may be free, but building relationships takes huge amounts of time and attention” which is crucial advice we agree wholeheartedly with — consider the way you relate to your friends and family as you read Faris’ concluding quote from Scott Monty, head of social media at Ford:
It’s not about campaigns; it’s about commitment.
If you’ve got the time, you can listen to Faris talking about these issues in his presentation Be nice or leave: A guide to being social.
Three years into its existence, the recent media frenzy around celebrity Twitterers, including Stephen Fry and Jonathan Ross, and Barack Obama’s successful use of the medium in the run-up to the US election, has seen the popularity of the “microblogging” site increase 27-fold in 12 months.
Advertisers could learn a lot from celebrity Twitterers using the site to shape their personal branding, creating a close, one-on-one relationship with their fans without constantly filtering their thoughts through a PR sieve.
Robin Grant, the managing director of the social media agency We Are Social, which advises Fry on his use of Twitter, explains: “The advice we gave to Stephen centred on being himself and having genuine conversations with people. It’s the same for brands. It’s about being human, showing your real personality and allowing people to connect with you on an emotional level.”
The article then gets quite bizarre, with Flo Heiss, the creative partner at Dare giving this advice about who should sit behind a brand’s account:
It could be a real person, such as a receptionist, or character made up by yourself
How about an imaginary friend who’s a receptionist, Flo? On to David Bain, an ‘internet marketing consultant’:
it’s cleverer when you don’t anthropomorphise it. What if an inanimate object was to Tweet, for example?
Why is it cleverer David? And what would it say? Amelia Torode, managing partner at VCCP:
It has to be a friendly, chatty brand. A brand such as Coca-Cola would be too large in its entirety. You need to work less at a higher-brand level and go down to the actual campaigns or smaller brands under the umbrella in order to start up the conversation.
Not quite as unhinged as Flo and David admittedly, but I’d point to the examples of brands like Burger King, Southwest Airlines, Whole Foods, Starbucks, JetBlue and even VCCP’s client O2, who are having meaningful and useful conversations at the higher-brand level. As usual, our friend Faris Yakob talks sense:
Previously we had a model of buying attention from media companies. Now we’ve got direct relationships so we have to earn that attention – we have to earn it by being entertaining, useful and also nice.
To be honest, there is no ‘right approach’, but there are some general principles that apply (as expressed by myself and Faris above) and then there is the hard won experience at the coalface, learning what works and what doesn’t, that brands doing it themselves (and the agencies like ourselves helping them) have acquired. Most importantly your approach should be built around, yes, you guessed it again, the business objectives you’re trying to achieve.
This diagram from Fallon’s Aki Spicer of six different potential participation strategies brands could use is a useful thought starter (each of which of course might be used in combination or not at all), but even the approaches I deliberately ridiculed above could be valid in the right circumstances. Fictional characters can work really well as part of a campaign as VCCP’s own Compare the Meerkat work shows, and I’m sure at least one of Zappos’ receptionists is on Twitter. Even inanimate objects might have their place – in fact I’ve been trying to persuade Kew Gardens to get their plant life on Twitter for a while now.
But deciding on a strategy is only the first and easiest step. The hard work is the day after day of micro-interactions with real people, and striking the right balance between the opportunities and risks presented by having a real person as the voice of the brand, which I touched upon in the hotly debated post on learning to speak human. David Armano brilliantly investigates this dynamic in The Age of Brandividualism and his recent follow-up, Battle of the Brands (both of which are required reading here at We Are Social towers):
For each brand on Twitter, there’s an individual (or individuals) behind that effort. It’s both business and personal. The two have become one. The tactic comes from a fundamental truth when it comes to the social spaces on the Web. People want to talk to other people. They want transparency. They want to know who they are talking to.
The potential reward of course, is the ability to spread surprise and delight, turn negative word of mouth into positive and to really engage people with your brand at an emotional level. There is no greater prize…
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.
At We Are Social towers, we were rudely awakened on Thursday morning to a brewing Twitterstorm to deal with. Robert Scoble was Twittering to his 53k+ followers live from the Davos summit. Here are the edited highlights:
Scobleizer: @AnthonyHocken I hear Stephen Fry’s Twitter account isn’t done by him but rather is done by his PR firm. Lame if true.
Whatleydude: @Scobleizer I believe a PR firm helped @stephenfry set up his account (@wearesocial) …but us Brits can assure you, it *is* him.
Scobleizer: Getting lots of pushback on Stephen Fry from people who say he’s actually doing his own Tweets.
mbites: @Scobleizer yeah @stephenfry is the real deal
wearesocial: @Scobleizer @stephenfry is doing his own Tweets! We helped get him set-up and gave him initial advice, that’s all. Could you please RT?
Scobleizer: RT: @wearesocial @stephenfry is doing his own Tweets! We helped get him set-up and gave him initial advice, that’s all.
Scobleizer: @wearesocial glad to help clear that up. A PR company exec told me it was done by PR. I love Twitter took minutes to clear up incorrect info
vendorprisey: @scobleizer Surely the next tweet should read, sorry @stephenfry ?
Scobleizer: RT @vendorprisey: @scobleizer Surely the next tweet should read, sorry @stephenfry ? (My answer: yes. I’m sorry).
This may seem like a Twitterstorm in a teacup, but the threat to Stephen’s reputation (and ours) was real. It was essential that we acted fast to establish the truth before it spiralled out of control (in the end we were able to nip it in the bud within an hour). In fact, it was a microcosm of how we pre-empt and deal with situations like this on behalf of any of our clients:
- Make sure you’re already respected members of relevant communities and have built strong friendships in them before any crisis erupts.
- Listen carefully to the conversations relevant to your brand at all times
- When appropriate, respond quickly in an open, honest and human way
Those friends mentioned in point 1 are the ones who are likely to come to your aid when it matters, just as ours did above – remember that their voices may carry more weight than your own, especially in these cynical times.
This is an approach that works for clients large and small, both in everyday conversations about their brands anywhere in social media and when confronted with much bigger crises than the one above. It was battle tested during Skype’s China crisis last year and passed with flying colours.
If you’d like to know more about how we helped Skype handle that situation or our how we help brands with online reputation management, conversation response, corporate blogs or advocacy programmes, then don’t hesitate to get in touch.