Social Brands 100 – the road show

On Wednesday this week Headstream took the story of the Social Brands 100 to a group of thirty marketers at an ISBA event in Edinburgh.

The beautiful and cultural City of Edinburgh was a suitable place to end our SB100 road show 2012, which has seen us discuss in-depth insights and findings with over thirty-five brands that featured in Social Brands 100 this year.

We’ve had the chance to have some brilliant conversations about social brand performance and benchmarking with lovely people at: Bing, British Gas, Burt’s Chips, Cancer Research, Chiltern Railways, The Great Collective Dairy, Deloitte, Diabetes UK, Douwe Egberts, Estee Lauder, First Direct, giffgaff, Global Radio, Go Ahead Group, Help for Heroes, Holywell Spring, London Midland, Manchester City FC, The Met Office, Mongoose Cricket, Museum of London, National Rail Enquiries, The National Trust, Neal’s Yard Remedies, Nike, PayPal, Penguin Books, RSPB, Sainsbury’s, Thames Water, Virgin Atlantic, Virgin Money, Virgin Trains, White Stuff and Wonga.  Phew!

We even dropped in to Number 10 for a chat about how to measure ROI from social activity, (wins prize for meeting venue of the year!)

And we’ve taken the stage at Haymarket’s ‘Driving and Proving Social Media Value’ conference in June, and the IAB’s ‘Great British Social Media Festival’ in July, as well as gigging at some internal conferences with brand teams at global companies (if you’d like us to come to your next team get together give us a shout @headstream).

Reflecting on all of these conversations the following six subjects are the ones that kept coming up as the priority issues around social media for brand and marketing teams: 

  1. There is increasing buy-in from boards around social media, and as a result budgets for social are increasing 
  2. Uncertainty about how to prove the efficiency and return on social media investment is holding back further commitment to social spend at some brands     
  3. Some brands’ social performances remain restricted by legacy structures and ways of working. For example, how does a brand and marketing team built to deliver periodic campaigns now adapt to news-jacking and creating content at the speed of social? 
  4. A training and development challenge exists. Brands need to increase the social media capability in their teams to match the greater number of customers using social media to engage with them 
  5. High performing social brands are investing in real-time content creation teams, with a particular focus on images, video and data visualisation  
  6. Brand teams are exploring the potential for social media to boost organic search results

How does this fit with your latest thoughts on social media? As ever we’d love to know what you think.

Social Brands 100 Methodology in detail

With just one week to go until the launch of Social Brands 100 the SB100 book is at the printers, and the finishing touches are being made to the launch event plans!

On May 29th the final ranking of the shortlisted 100 brands will be revealed for the first time, based on each brand’s Social Brand Score. This Social Brand Score is the sum of a Data Score (the score on which the shortlisting of brands was decided), and a Panel Score generated by an expert panel of judges that has assessed and scored each of the shortlisted 100 brands.

Ahead of the launch of the ranking, here is a slide deck that outlines the Social Brands 100 methodology in detail.

giffgaff – showing us the future

When you invent a company on social brand principles from scratch, you end up with something like giffgaff.

For those who’ve not heard about giffgaff yet, it’s a mobile network run by its community. The idea is that members get rewarded for running parts of the business like answering customer care questions, getting new members, spreading the word about giffgaff and even developing new products.

Speaking at the packed Digital Surrey event last night, Heather Taylor, Social Media and PR Manager at giffgaff, gave some fascinating insights into the inner workings of a ‘social business’.

Heather’s insights:

  • Founder of giffgaff, Head of Brand Strategy at O2 Gav Thompson, came up with the idea to create ‘the Wikipedia of mobile’ after attending a conference on open source business models.
  • Before launching anything the team went out to the community, and asked them what they would want from a ‘mobile network run by you’. The business was then designed around the feedback.
  • Levels of engagement in the customer forums are much higher than for a traditional mobile model. Some ‘super-users’ in the forum are engaged six hours a day helping others.
  • giffgaff doesn’t focus solely on its owned forums. It views the giffgaff ‘community’ as anywhere online that interactions and comment about giffgaff take place. The company provides tools to allow community members to track these interactions in open networks e.g. its own URL shortening service,
  • Every week the suggestions made by the community are reviewed by the CEO, CFO and exec team. The best ideas are implemented.
  • giffgaff has made its APIs available to the community, and all app development has been led, and completed, by the community.
  • After the community management team at giffgaff handled a network failure crisis in a timely and proactive way, customers turned down offers of compensation, and asked that the money be donated to charity instead.
  • giffgaff believe the model is scaleable. If giffgaff accounted for 25pct of O2’s total customer base, it would save £12.5 mln from annual  customer service costs.

That last point is the real eye-opener. Socially designed businesses can create fundamentally different models, and shift accepted thinking on financial ratios.

The proof of the pudding for giffgaff will be how loyal its customers are in the long term. In these early days the figures aren’t available. But if this business model can also create greater loyalty, leading to the mobile operator’s holy grail of lower churn, then it will be a game-changer.

Heather’s final insight was to wonder what is stopping other businesses adopting these models. She had one word, ‘legacy’.

By that she meant the legacy of existing business systems, and the behavioural legacy of how customers are used to being interacted with. As customers demand that these legacy systems and behaviours shift, we’ll see more giffgaffs, and more disruption to business models.

How would your business look if you re-invented it for social?

Google gets ready for battle with Buzz

Yesterday saw Google launch its own social networking site, Buzz, against established rivals Facebook and Twitter – but is there now too much choice for where people visit to catch-up with their friends?

Google Buzz allows users to share personal updates, photos and videos. Anyone using the existing email service, Gmail, will automatically be able to use the service, meaning the network already has hundreds of millions of people.

Whilst a bold move on Google’s part, the industry reaction seems to be that it will never be able to compete with the likes of Twitter and Facebook as it doesn’t offer anything over and above the existing capabilities of these platforms.

One major concern that has been raised is around the privacy of the service. In order to quickly populate your list of friends, Buzz automatically follows other Buzz users that you frequently communicate with through Google’s other services such as GMail and Google Talk. While this automatically gives you a populated list of people to follow and allows your most common contacts to see your status update, it also makes your Buzz friends list public by default.

But being so new only time will tell whether Google Buzz will really take off.

If you’re signed up and are loving/hating the service let us know your thoughts.


Facebook adds per post information

Facebook Insights does a really good job of showing you average stats for your Facebook pages, allowing you to see at a glance how your page is performing. What it has lacked thus far is a way of seeing which posts specifically are doing well, aside from looking at the number of interactions per post i.e. the number of times the post has been commented on and liked.

Now Facebook is rolling out a new feature; more detailed stats on a per post basis, allowing you to see the number of impressions each post has received, and the percentage feedback, which appears to be simply the total impressions divided by the total interactions. This is actually very useful data. It quickly allows you to see which posts have been more successful than others, information which is very useful when developing your content strategy.

At the moment the roll out seems to only be for pages with a minimum of 5000 fans, and doesn’t work for every post, some posts simply stating that the data is not available at this time.

Social Media Platforms

The social media landscape is vast, with different tools and platforms offering different services. Each of these platforms can be used in different ways by brands, so to simplify thing we’ve created this Venn diagram to show how the different platforms fit together. You can see a bigger version by clicking the image.
Social Media platforms

How companies are benefiting from Web 2.0

Global management consulting company, McKinsey, has been working on a survey over the last three years to determine whether companies are deriving measureable benefits from their adoption of Web 2.0 technologies.

As we would expect, respondents reported that Web technologies have strengthened their companies’ links to customers, citing blogs, microblogs such as Twitter and social networks as the most important, allowing companies to readily distribute product information, invite customer feedback and encourage participation in the creation of new products.

69% of the 1,700 respondents to the survey also reported that their companies have gained measurable business benefits, including more innovative products and services, more effective marketing, better access to knowledge, lower cost of doing business, and higher revenues.

This survey really highlights the importance of using Web 2.0 technologies, not just on the B2C level that we, at Headstream, are heavily involved in, but also internally and on a B2B level. The opportunities really are endless…

For the full survey summary take a look here

Facebook Lite

I was interested to hear that Facebook is currently trialling a new messenger service, which potentially could rival Twitter. While at the moment it’s only being tested in India, there are rumours it could come over to the UK in the near future.

Facebook says: ‘Similar to the Facebook experience you get on your mobile phones, Facebook ‘Lite’ is a fast-loading, simplified version of Facebook that enables people to make comments, accept Friend requests, write on people’s Walls, and look at photos and status updates.

One of the big benefits of Facebook Lite is that it will be much faster and will be much more streamlined – a big help if you’re accessing Facebook from a country with low bandwidth.

I think this could be great way to encourage a younger audience to become even more engaged with micro-blogging and that both sites are significantly different that they can exist in the same space without competing.

Recently, a lot of people have criticised that Facebook has become cluttered with a deluge of games, quizzes and personality tests. It’s good to see Facebook listening to its customers and adapting to maintain its market share.

This development has certainly caused a stir in the social networking arena and I’m excited to learn more as this story continues…

Twitter for business

For a while now many have questioned ‘how exactly will Twitter make money from their platform?’ Companies such as Microsoft have themselves already tapped into the platform in attempt to try and monetise the Twitterverse through their business site ExecTweets dedicated to supporting CEO’s and fresh business thinkers. Now it is the turn of Twitter themselves.

Yesterday Twitter released their Twitter 101 on how businesses can best use the platform to communicate and engage with customers effectively. What is more interesting is that they have set up a new sub domain – so there are obvious plans afoot to separate business accounts from personal accounts.

It is straightforward really, the more businesses signing up and using Twitter the more chance Twitter as a platform has the opportunity to make money from their service.
With the large number of actively engaged Twitter users on the platform; businesses have a fantastic opportunity to get involved in the conversation.

As a social media agency Headstream understands the importance of using Twitter for business. We support Red Funnel ferries with their Twitter account @Red_Funnel amongst others and we the agency recently delivered a Business Twitter 101 in Manchester for B2B Marketing Magazine for their Social Media conference. You can check out the presentation below: