Social Media Managers Keep Failing

Society3-SM-keep-failingNo question, those who studied the shift in our socioeconomic landscape come all to the same conclusion: Social Media holds a massive change for our society and our businesses. The change will be as profound as the industrial revolution 200 years ago.

Introducing that change to executives who run their business with a huge daily pressure is so overwhelming that it is a very natural behavior to go into denial. You hear “The more things change, the more they stay the same”, “I don’t see an immediate ROI”, “My fellow executives from other companies aren’t using Social Media either”… The reasons to ignore it are most likely equally diverse as the reasons to ignore the development of cities and companies 200 years ago.  My personal prediction is that it may take well another 5 to 10 years for the majority of businesses to recognize the impact of that change and what it means to their business. And the more people warn “If you don’t adopt, you will fall through the cracks”, the less likely business executives will even listen.

Denial is a mechanic of our psyche that sets in when the amount of information or the degree of danger is so large that the brain is not able to comprehend it.  So here is why Social Media Managers keep failing:

1) Thousands of people – like you and me – have gone through a learning curve, comprehending the seismic shift in our business society. But it took us a year or more of learning and thinking to get there. Most who began to recognize the shift are pounding on business leaders to recognize it too and get ready for change.

2) A business executive who is very focused on keeping the company or their division afloat and fighting on all ends for growth and profitability, competing in a taught global economy, has probably less time to even start comprehending the change. And the more people talk about apocalyptic business erosion the more those managers go into denial.

Even though people get hired to ‘manage’ Social Media – to many have zero pull through in their respective organizations and remain to be an alibi function for executives to be able to say “Oh yes, we did invest in social media, we even have a management position and doing it for quite a while. We are totally covered”.

In a recent research we asked 100 companies about their social media engagement and 72% confirmed that they are very active and happy with their results, 21% are exploring social media but will not engage before middle of next year and 17% stated that they don’t see a benefit and therefor have no plans to engage.

Now – checking out the level of engagement of the 72%, is very easy because everything is public and very transparent. We realized that nearly 80% of those 72% have only a very rudimentary presence, very low engagement level with customer and inquires or questions unanswered for weeks. Only a small group has actually recognized the opportunity and developed a highly engaging online presence with apparently very active customers.

The larger part of social media managers apparently work heads down, trying to keep a low profile (and the job) and don’t making any major inroads helping the business to make significant progress in this highly transparent and communicative world. They simply keep failing. We recognized this by seeing an increasing churn in social media positions.

The key reasons for failing are:

  • Lack of a profound social media strategy
  • Lack of comprehensive experience what it means to build a customer engagement
  • Lack of market research skills and reporting
  • Lack of management skills to present a business relevant plan without overwhelming executives with details and technical aspects
  • Lack of skills aligning social media activities with overall business objectives

 

Axel
Http://XeeMe.com/AxelS

 

 

 

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80% of purchase decisions based on recommendations

Society3-networked-worldSocial Media has changed the way consumer and business manager alike make their purchase decisions. The web has become the most influential resource in figuring out what to buy. Depending on the research, target audience, product or service, the percentage of new purchase decisions based on mentions and recommendations range between 72% to 90%. That is true for both B2B and B2C customers.

It is hard too imagine a manager making a  purchase decision purely based on advertising inputs and conversations with vendors. In the Tech industry estimations are that those purchase decisions are even at nearly 100% based on public mentions, reviews, and recommendations.

A business executive cannot stay put and just hope that their solutions are good enough and be recommended. They have to be proactive and stimulate mentions and recommendations. And in today’s wide open online world it is not too difficult to do so.

Smart executives focus on four business units.

1) Marketing
Marketing being the obvious one. Marketing was always the group that was responsible for sparking demand, responding to market changes and stimulating interest. A marketing department that is able to stimulate mentions and recommendations represent a huge competitive advantage over those who do not.

2) Partner Networks
Distribution channels, including resellers, broker, dealer, alliance partners are highly influential channels directly addressing certain market segments or geographies of a given vendor. Like the general marketing those channels need to be aware of the shifts in purchase behavior and able to address those changes with smart ways to stimulate conversations around their brands

3) Sales Organization
Sales people are typically the most social teams in an organization. However they are not automatically web savvy. Most have been trained over years, even decades to follow specific processes and have the hardest time to bring their sales processes in alignment with the new buying pattern.

4) Customer Experience Management
CX or CEM is a relatively new discipline in most businesses.  However, it has just become a very significant investment when it is coming to mentions and recommendations. Businesses providing a good customer experience are obviously much ahead of their competition that has only mediocre or even bad customer experience.

The ultimate Social Media objective

In today’s extremely competitive world being mentioned and recommended is one of the most important aspects of business success. Companies like Zappos, Star Bucks, Jet Blue, Virgine, SalesForce.com, BMW, SAP, coming from all kinds of industries covering both B2B and B2C, have outperformed their competition mainly due to the fact that their customers are happy and say it across the Internet.

It isn’t “Social Media” per se that makes any difference – but the way Social Media is leveraged in a globally competing world. A rock solid social media strategy is paramount to leverage the web to a degree that it positively affects the bottom line.

Axel
http://XeeMe.com/AxelS

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Success Pattern — Social Media Agencies

In the past 5 years we’ve seen agencies come and go, raise and fall. A pretty typical scenario for a rapidly growing emerging market. As we helped hundreds of people starting their own company or  re-structuring their existing business, I thought I share my observation. This is not so much about skills but how those companies are seen from the outside.

 

What Worked and what didn’t

1) Portfolio

Successful agencies are having a very clearly defined and for newcomer easy to understand service portfolio. It’s shared right on their website and often has at least ball park pricing. They have often times a clear focus in terms of their offering i.e. Social Media Monitoring, presence setup, or apps development.

Less successful agencies have a high level list of buzz words that you can find everywhere in the web with no way of differentiating them from others. Most of the less successful agencies simply offer “everything” which in today’s stage of social media is very hard to do and very had to trust.

2) Target Audience

Successful agencies defining their range of expertise like B2B or B2C, company size, departmental focus even. Making it easy for a prospect to see a match of needed skills.

Less successful agencies have a “scaleable” offering from helping individuals to global enterprises, support all business disciplines and all industries.

3) References

Successful agencies share some references or at least have some stories without mentioning names or brands and share their experience – typically in a blog with frequent updates. The larger agencies who are working for larger clients have hardly a chance to get an official go for references but the sample stories they supply give important indications.

Less successful agencies are often just blasting out content for their clients without long term success and as such having a hard time to talk about any kind of success.

4)  Experience

Successful agencies share their experience either on their blog or in webinars or other media. Listening and reading about the way they think, how they approach things and what their experience is, is a key to better understand what they would be able to do for clients.

Less successful agencies hardly communicate about what they are doing but typically sharing what others do and say, simply due to lack of experience. While sharing content from others is a great thing to do, there are times one has to open up and put a stake in the ground about their own thinking.

5) Doing Business

Successful agencies make it easy to do business with them by having their phone number and social presence easy to find on all pages and make it very clear what they have to offer, for what type of client and in what industry or market segment.

Less successful agencies have hardly their own social presence listed. Often not even a phone number and it remains unclear what they actually have to offer.

6) Social Presence

Successful agencies have a rather complete social presence and update frequently. Many of the rather successful agencies are also seen on other sites and actually “live” in the social web, but most of the time at customers sites and presences.

Less successful agencies have often times a very good looking presence but spotty updates. If they are busy with one project they have no time taking care of their own presence. Less successful agencies follow more people than following them or have rather equal follower / following, have not much original content on their sites.

 

I purposely didn’t talk about skills as this is a whole different discussion. This post may help those who wonder why it is so hard to get clients, to re-evaluate their representation in the market.

Axel
http://XeeMe.com/AxelS

 

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Social Media and Customer Experience Management

Social Media is widely used in businesses for all kinds of aspects. It typically starts on the marketing side to spread the word and get fast customer feedback. The experience with the customer feedback often times triggers new ideas in market research and Social Media becomes an interesting real time market research instrument.

Service And Support

The other aspect of market feedback are obviously product related questions, complaints or issues. Needless to say that service and support departments are requested to take care of those issues and begin to discover Social Media as a support vehicle. Comcast Cable for instance reported they responded to over hundred thousand support requests on Twitter. Why is that important? Because a support person can read a support request written in 140 character much faster and also respond much faster than in any traditional media.

Product Management

With all the inputs, requests, wishes and ideas compiled in the social web, product management is discovering a new world of product feedback, market research and feature request sources to build better products. Crowd sourcing is the key word. Not only does product management reduce the risk of creating a product release nobody really wants but gets free additional requests that make users happy as they get build. Dell, SalesForce.com and others are leaders in that development.

Sales

Now all that engagement obviously brings sales people into the scene who want to know more what people want, hoping they can offer an even more tailored solution. And as recommendations play an ever more important role, sales people begin to introduce prospects to existing clients in a rather informal and social manner to stimulate those recommendations.

Full Circle Customer Experience

If we look at all this – this is pretty much the full circle customer experience a person can have when dealing with a company. For customer experience management teams social media has become a very strategic playground. Obviously there are still areas that has no touch points with social media like the invoicing process or logistics, but interestingly enough those are rarely strategic problems in the eye of a customer. On the other side, support, product influence and product quality, exchange with other customers, approachability of a team are key items and they are all part of the social media landscape.

 

Understanding the criticality and how to deal with that new field is a big challenge for many CX managers. That’s why we created the CEM training program. http://academy.society3.com/s3-ccems/ The core of the program is developing a CEM strategy leveraging social media that can be implemented in any size company.

Axel
http://XeeMe.com/AxelS

 

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New programs, new training center

With the new structure and the new name, Societ3 Academy also made some significant enhancements to both, the training program and also the way we deliver the education.

Enhanced Education Program

New Classes

Certified Social Media Manager

Certified Social Presence Designer

Certified Social Media Partner Manager

See the complete program overview 2013

Enhanced Education Model / Delivery

While the biggest advantage of our Academy was always the hands on experience right inside the social web, collaborating online and acting in real cases, in the real environment, we did recognize the need for onsite training class room education.

Online Only Training

For the more advanced users we continue to offer online only classes. Meaning the entire program is delivered in a “hybrid model” of self paced online learning and instructor lead online workshops.

Class Room Training

Most of the new classes are a combination of two day intense training in our training center in San Francisco or Cannes (France) and then 3 to 6 weeks hands on experience. All project exercises are performed in teamwork and online collaboration and  participating in weekly instructor lead online workshops.

Business Relevant Education

Social media is neither complicated, nor technically challenging. You will find thousands of free webinars and lists of tips and tricks online. Some of the more challenging business aspects can easily be learned through any of our $49 online lessons including exercises. But at some point in time you want to get real world project experience, without using your customers as ginny pigs.  You will want to do things right at the first time. When it comes to social business strategies, social media marketing concepts, crowd sourcing initiatives, improving customer experience, service models, and many other business aspects, a solid   education becomes mandatory. S3 Social Media Academy programs assume that attendees have been through a first series of experiments and now want to get a professional and effective education.

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Social Media Academy now Society3 Academy

When we started in 2008, we were the first Social Media Academy and did not expect so many others following us. Today we count roughly 25 different “Social Media Academies”. Since it is a generic term, we were not able to file a trademark and so we decided to give the institute a more distinguishable name: S3 Social Media Academy

 

Origin of the name

After the inception of our early form of a society back in ancient Egypt, humanity developed gradually and grew with only little evolutionary advancements. Preservation and transportation of knowledge was one of the most critical things in this early society to be able to advance. The first major and revolutionary advancement happened when Gutenberg invented the printing press and enabled an explosion of knowledge dissemination. Advancements of mankind grew rapidly. The second major enhancement happened during the industrial revolution. People formed closely collaborating groups producing goods on one place. And again knowledge distribution accelerated by order of magnitude. Any step in the production chain could be followed from start to finish, mistakes could be instantly corrected and products could be mass produced at a cost and in a time like never before. While the steam engine was a key technology – it was the organizational concept of collaborating in a company that sparked the second explosion of knowledge. Now the third major enhancement is enabled by Social Media. Today anybody can work with everybody in a virtual environmental with no time lack, no travel and no physical limitations. Any conceivable information is instantly and typically freely available and immediately accessible. And our collaboration space has expand to be the world, connected by the Internet and is no longer limited by a manufacturing building. This third evolutionary step of knowledge and influence dissemination in our Society is the origin of our company name.

 

S3 Social Media Academy

The institute evolved to become the most respected Social Media education provider world wide. In the first 4 years more than 5,000 attendees from 35 countries attended the various education and training offerings. What started with classes for Social Media consultants evolved to a global provider for corporate team education including training for indirect channel partners.

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Reputation of sales people continue to decline

Is this what your sales guy looks like?

Reputation of sales people has rapidly decliened over the past few year. 20 years ago the sales teams were celebrated heroes in almost all businesses in the western world. Highly skilled and well trained sales people brought a lot of business which was responsible to drive the growth of the respective company. In the 70’s and 80’s the sales teams learned a lot of new techniques such as reference selling, solution selling, they learned to be a facilitator between customer and the experts inside the company they work for. They were wining and dining their clients, and learned to please the customer no matter what. What a great situation and pleasure to buy. But that was going to change: Continue reading “Reputation of sales people continue to decline”

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Creating a Social Media Strategy Handbook

95% of the customers had a choice when they purchased the product or service in the first place, they had a reason for their selection. The single most successful way to use social media is empowering customers to share that reason and turn it into recommendations. The single biggest challenge: make it actually happen.

The Social Media Strategy Handbook

It became best practices to create a Social Media Strategy Handbook for each social media project documenting everything including the ultimate goal and purpose, initial market research, SWOT analysis, strategy, programs, actions, social presence, resources, budgets, reporting and the ROI.

We are sharing two examples of those strategy books that were created by attendees of the Social Media Strategist class. One was for Lindt Chocolate and one for a Hotel & Spa in the Caribbean. None of the information provided here is confidential – everything can be found in the public social web. Continue reading “Creating a Social Media Strategy Handbook”

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Pan European Social Media Effort

We blogged about this project before and I thought I give an update. For those who don’t know: The European Commission in Brussels initiated a program called “Digital Agenda Europe” and within this initiative 8 focus groups of which one is Social Media. Based on the overarching goal of a program called “Europe 2020″ we created the following objective for a Social Media Strategy proposal which we will present to the EU Commission June 21 in Brussels.

 

Objective

Stimulate small and medium size businesses and innovative start-ups across the EU leveraging social media to create a sustainable growth, additional jobs and being able to compete in a global market. Specifically we want to double the number of businesses, actively engaged in social media who created new jobs, year over year till 2016

Continue reading “Pan European Social Media Effort”

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How to get executives fully comprehend Social Media?

I guess you all rationalized that Social Media projects are typically difficult to close and painful to execute if executives are not well aware of the impact of Social Media to their business. The single biggest problem is that most executives do not speak your language.

Getting your or your client’s executives to understand Social Media has become for many the single biggest obstacle. Even if you have a good story, they may not trust you – but they may trust the Social Media Academy. SMACAD is trusted by executives from ADP, Dell, Salesforcce.com, SAP and many others. Based on our own experience dealing with world class executives, we created this brand new executive program: “Social Media Business Essentials” for executives and top executive consultants http://bit.ly/smacadsmbe $395 incl. certificate Continue reading “How to get executives fully comprehend Social Media?”

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