Headstream had the enviable job of chairing Brand Republics Achieving Maximum Value from Your Social Media Strategy conference (#brsms) in London last week (01 July). It was a day full of insight and practical advice thanks to an excellent selection of speakers, and a format that included plenty of interactive panel and workshop sessions. Here are some of the highlights:
The day kicked off with British Telecoms Vincent Sider . This is the second time Ive heard Vincent present, which confirmed my first impression that hes one of the smartest thinkers in the social arena. Responsible for developing and implementing a social media customer service strategy for BT Vincent gave a sneak peek of Debatescape, the bespoke listening tool BT has developed to service its social customer service efforts.
He made the interesting point that however sophisticated the technology, nothing can replace human analysis when it comes to sentiment tracking, and that sentiment analysis remains the biggest issue when it comes to online listening.
Vincents big idea is that game mechanics (by which he means the behaviours of recognition, reward, and building status over time seen in multi-player computer gaming environments) will become the model for the whole of the social web. Individuals will build their profile and status over time, and brands that enable these individuals to realise their goals will be the ones that succeed. He gave an example of Knorr Canadas Salty (link) campaign that created a community, enabled dialogue and rewarded participation.
Vincents steps to successful social activity are: Plan you story. Listen. Publish. Listen and reward. While Id argue that that listening should be the first activity, the reminder to listen again and then reward is very apt. A lot of brands miss this step.
According to Vincent underlying all activity should be one fundamental principle: Listen and engage with kindness. Forget that and problems occur because, you arent kind, or you dont deliver.
Next up was Trevor Johnson, Head of Strategy and Planning Facbook, EMEA. Trevor is always worth a listen and made a strong case for the benefits Facebook brings to brands as an advertising and engagement platform. Pointing out that earned media only happens in social media, he said only Facebook provides the opportunity for brands to integrate people into adverts with social context formats e.g. ad copy which shows if you friends have liked this, or video tailored with an individuals profile picture.
Trevor pointed out that engaging a community through a Facebook brand page has allowed Starbucks to create dialogue with nine million people. He also sounded a note of caution around leaving the responsibility conversing with this community to a junior in the organisation.
Your comments on Facebook should be as important to your CMO and senior marketers as your latest television ad is, its the same profile of communication, as Nestle discovered. (Nestle reference is to the brands recent disaster handling its Facebook community.
Citing the examples of Spotify, and Levis Friends Store using Facebook Connect to allow individuals to import their social graph into the website experience, Trevor concluded that Facebook is all about serving information based on peoples friends, to make experience richer.
Overall, a fascinating insight into Facebooks direction of travel. The company remains way ahead of anyone else, and even the likes of Google are still in catch-up mode.
Headstreams own Chris Buckley then presented his thinking on the principles that brands should have in mind when embarking on social media strategic thinking. He touched on the importance of appropriate behaviour in social spaces, win-win relationships and introduced the concept of social currency.
After a series of roundtables to give practical advice to delegates on social strategy, thanks to everyone who joined mine, the afternoon session was dominated by some excellent panels.
It was a particular highlight to have Will King, founder of King of Shaves, involved in the panel on building communities around content. Hearing a business owner and entrepreneurs perspective gave some clear focus on the business imperative for being involved in social.
One of his killer insights, covering both his approach to business overall, and social, was: Your biggest competitor isnt actually your competition, but not knowing what youre doing, and why youre doing it.
His point was supported by the ever effusive Maz Nadjm ,Skys Community Project Manager, who impressed on the audience the need to identify What is important to you and what you stand for, before embarking into social media activity. Having established why you are getting involved the next step is to secure internal buy-in, a task that shouldnt be underestimated. Maz spends 70-80 pct of his time educating internal, and external, audiences on the benefits of social.
Next up was that perennial favourite How to measure the ROI of social media! Fortunately the excellent panel; Nadine Sharara, Head of e-Commerce at Space NK, and Ricky Chopra, Speedos Digital Marketing Manager, focused on their practical experience running campaigns. A common theme was the importance of focusing on who the genuine influencers are, and focusing down on the active and proactive people, according to Chopra. Similarly, for Space NK blogger outreach activity has seen them Understand who the real influencers are
who are the top five who influence everyone else?.
Chopra was insistent that ROI is measurable if you are prepared to make the investment in measurement and analytics. Speedo have adopted a score card approach to assess on a month by month basis how they are tracking in social, through a variety of criteria e.g. how many unprompted actions have there been, how many positive mentions, how many negative? According to Chopra its down to a willingness to work at it Dont be lazy, you can measure it (ROI on social) using a blended approach as you would have done with a traditional integrated campaign.
In the next session on Embedding social into an organisation Paul Hood from the Daily Mirror gave some interesting insights into the Mirror Groups approach as a legacy business coming to terms with the disruption of social.
At the Mirror our focus is on our content being appropriate for social spaces. We are taking small steps, identifying content verticals and passion centres amongst our audience, and focusing on them first.
Sandra Leonhard, Director of Web Strategy and Business Development for TUI Travel, and MD of Cheqqer, described social as the second major disruption for the travel industry, matching the advent of budget airlines for impact. Her advice was for organisations to approach social media at the brand level and ensure there is no silo mentality where one part of the organisation works in isolation.
The graveyard shift went to the panel exploring, Whats next. Going beyond Facebook and Twitter & Looking to the future. The panel of Martin Verdon Roe, Trip Advisor, David Courtier-Dutton, from Slice the Pie, and Ilicco Elia, Reuters, made the usual gag about if we knew that wed not be sitting here, wed be making billions, and then indulged in some crystal ball-gazing.
Martin saw the future as mobile and that globally, mobile will be the big driver for growth, alongside increased social graph elements such as Trip Friends.
But the last words have to go to Illico Elia, who envisioned a future that rings very true with me.
What you (brands) have to realise is that your sales effort is going to have to become more and more personal. Every person in an organisation will need to become a brand advocate, its not about building new resource, rather its making sure everyone (in the organisation) takes responsibility for being a face for the organisation.