Actionable Advice from the Social Business Summit

by Eric Melin on April 27, 2011

How do I integrate social media into my company efficiently? It’s a question everybody needs to answer. Yesterday was a day to ponder this intensely.

Do you ever have one of those days when you get so much information that you’re not sure your brain can hold it all anymore?

Jeremiah Owyang laid out a research-based plan for companies to achieve 'escape velocity' and scale social media for business success.

I had one of those days at the SocialIRL Social Business Summit, featuring Altimeter Group‘s Jeremiah Owyang and Kansas City’s best and brightest social media adopters sitting together in one room at the KCI Embassy Suites.

For anyone interested in organizing their company from the ground up to exist as a social organization, Jeremiah provided some of the most pragmatic, in-depth recommendations I’ve seen on the subject. This was not a touchy-feely, pat-ourselves-on-the-back social media conference. This was a hands-on workshop featuring research from Owyang, Christine Tran, and others at the Altimeter Group, organized in a way that takes you step by step through the process.

Through this extensive and ongoing research into what’s happening in the social media world for businesses, Jeremiah has identified trends, best practices, metrics (KPIs), downsides, upsides, case study examples — and ultimately — recommendations for any company who wants to innovate in the space.

If you’re reading this blog, you probably already know that embracing social media and having a comprehensive digital strategy is essential for companies these days. Like Forrester said, it’s Adapt or Perish. But rarely do you see a comprehensive plan laid out for businesses like we did yesterday.

In fact, it was waaaaaaaaaaaay too much information to share in one blog post here. Alas, I have tried.

Justin Meyer from KCI was one of the many attendees who participated in the interactive Social Business Summit workshop yesterday afternoon.

Where Are We Now?
- Most social media programs have existed less than 3 years
- 77% of social media programs are novice or intermediate
- ROI measurements are the top internal priority for companies using social media

Getting Ready Internally
- There are 5 organizational models for socializing your business: Decentralized, centralized, hub and spoke, multiple hub and spoke, and holistic. Most are centralized or hub and spoke. Hub and spoke is a good one to shoot for because it is scalable. Get out of the decentralized model ASAP!
- You want to be able to move from fragmentation and decentralization to coordination where business units can deploy social media content on their own.
- Draft a social media policy. (Here are some examples: Intel, Cisco)
- Average budgets for social media: Novices – $66,000, Intermediate companies – $1,002,000, Advanced – $1,364,000
- Put together a crises response plan and a social media triage (similar to the US Air Force triage)
- Educate employees with best practice sharing, encourage participation in conferences, memberships in professional clubs.
- Research. Find a web monitoring platform that suits your objectives. Conduct a brand audit, run competitive analysis, identify customer pain points, and map socialgraphics. (May I suggest that Spiral16 is excellent in this capacity?)
- Get this data to your execs, stakeholders, and community management team. (Each group will need data specific to their group–here’s Jeremiah’s ROI Pyramid.)

Owyang's ROI Pyramid shows what types of social data need to disseminated where in your company (link above).

Five Goals Will Help Define Your Strategy – How many apply to you?
- Listen and learn with free and paid monitoring tools. (Don’t just search your brand/product. Get creative. Search customer pain points, your executives, negative terms, and competitors.)
- Start a dialogue. Engage with your customers. (Examples: Southwest, AARP, Red Cross)
- Turn customers into advocates/brand ambassadors. This can be scalable. Tap into your social graph and ask them to share. (Examples: Edible Arrangements, ElevenMoms)
- Support your customers directly, or by facilitating peer-to-peer support using social technologies. (Examples: HyattConcierge,Twelpforce)
- Advanced companies can take risks and innovate. This is the hardest to do – improve products and services based on info you get in social, but make sure to set realistic expectations (Examples: Dewmocracy, TurboTax InnerCircle, My Starbucks Idea)

I haven’t even gone into SocialCRM or “gamification,” which Owyang insists is the next big thing in social. Whew!

Scott Gulbransen from Applebee's, Julie Weeks from Boulevard, Justin Gardner from AMC Theatres shared insight on how their companies are using social media successfully.

The Panels, featuring leaders in the biggest locally-based companies, were very informative too. Here are some nuggets:

@julieweeks said that even though @Boulevard_Beer can’t sell beer directly to customers, when she calculates social ROI, beer sales are absolutely a factor.

@jpgardner spent a long time listening in the digital space first to research for @AMCTheaters, then jumped in with both feet. One recent success: an influential movie-blogger contest for AMC Stubs.

@sdgully said that @Applebees goal is bringing ‘neighborhood’ to life in the digital space and is very proud of their Honor a Veteran program.

Jake Jacobson from @garmin said that social media is a great opportunity for direct engagement, and although the math is fuzzy, the sales funnel can be tied to ROI.

One challenge for @jginkc at @Sprint is trying to profile an engageable customer vs. one that can’t be reached, but sometimes knowing they are listening is enough.

@zenaweist has been successful in helping @HRBlock move social media into compliance, product, customer service – not just marketing. Both she and @jginkc stressed the importance of making sure you go where your customers are, even outside of Facebook and Twitter.

Congratulations to Ben Smith and Jeremiah for putting on such an information-intensive and helpful day of learning. I’m sure I am not the only one leaving with tons of actionable advice and ideas!

Digital strategist Jeff Bunch, who was sitting right in front of me, also blogged about the event. Check it out here: Social:IRL Social Business Summit with Jeremiah Owyang quite the event

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