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Posts Tagged ‘social networking’

 How Search Works With Social CRM

Thursday, January 28th, 2010

From Media Post

by Laurie Sullivan,

Search technology: Some companies will license it, while others build it from scratch. It depends on the egos of executives working at the company. Real-time search and social media have pushed technology to the forefront. Companies need sophisticated algorithms that can sort and index structured and unstructured data.

A recent Accenture report titled “Social CRM: The New Frontier of Marketing, Sales and Service” ties it all together. Joe Hughes, senior executive from Accenture’s customer service and support business, confirms that enterprise companies have begun to build search engine technology that will integrate into software applications and consumer hardware to help marketers, advertisers, agencies and others sort through the mounds of data created by social media.

Hughes defines social CRM as the conversation data from social media networks. And as marketers continue to try and make sense of the mounds of data flooding in from real-time search, Twitter streams, Facebook status updates, and behavioral targeting tags, they will need a faster method to sort, index and access data. Wow, are you overwhelmed yet?

Marketers need technology that can move feedback from customers and call center agents between channels with as much automation as possible. That will become the only way to analyze the data. Natural language query processing will also become a focus, to search through documents of unstructured and structured data as the mounds of social media data continues to mount.

Last year, tools measuring buzz metrics in social networks emerged. This year, the focus turns toward integrating the social data into traditional CRM platforms from companies like software-as-a-service (SaaS) provider Salesforce, which late last year integrated the feature, allowing people to search on that data in real time.

Until now, CRM packages did not allow marketers to view data collected on Twitter alongside traditional queries. But the real-time search movement has sent companies looking to improve search results back to the drawing board to build engines that can process structured and unstructured data, as well as sentiment analysis, taxonomy, classification and entity extractions, according to Hughes. “The strategy of combining structured and unstructured data will become more important,” he tells me.

Read the rest of the article here:

 Don’t underestimate the power of the customer when building your brand.

Tuesday, February 17th, 2009

Monday, February 16, 2009 


By Don Morgan 

Last week, I attended a webinar titled “Brand Building in a Digital Age”. I was expecting a “how-to” seminar on incorporating social media and other new technology tools as part of the marketing mix. As it turned out, the webinar was more about the power of the customer and the importance of good customer service in an era of instant access to millions of potential customers via the Internet. But that’s okay, because the webinar did give me some new insights and appreciation for the importance of doing and saying the right things with customers.So what does that say about retailers who loudly proclaim their “once-in-a-lifetime” sale that happens again next week? And again the following week? Are you listening department stores? Or what about the automobile dealers, mortgage companies and all the other advertisers who trumpet their incentives and hide behind the fine print. The old-fashioned notion of caveat emptor (buyer beware) has been replaced by seller beware that you don’t ruin your brand and your business in a blind quest for profit because your customers will tell the truth to the world.The rapid growth of customer review sites like Yelp and Angies List and the emergence of customer feedback sites like Measuredup and Planetfeedback should be enough for marketers to wake up and smell that coffee.The customer is not only in charge, they are in the driver’s seat.

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 Better Business Bureau complaints up 7% from 2008

Thursday, February 12th, 2009

According to an annual report released today by Better Business Bureau, consumers filed 891,540 complaints against North American businesses in 2008, reflecting a seven percent increase over the previous year.The report also reveals that BBB Reliability Reports-which are available online for free and contain information on a businesses’ accreditation status, letter-grade rating and complaint history-are increasingly popular as a free tool for consumers to research the trustworthiness of businesses. The four million reliability reports maintained by BBB on businesses across North America were accessed more than 63 million times in 2008, a 15 percent increase over the previous year. The most popular industries researched through BBB are roofing contractors, general contractors, and movers.Read more of the article, from the WPDE News website, here.

 How You Can Stay in Control of Your Brand’s Reputation

Wednesday, February 11th, 2009

Even If You’ve Done Nothing Wrong, One Nasty Complaint Can Taint Your Name

by Keith Goldberg 


My initiation into reputation management took place during fourth grade in Mr. Timberlake’s class. For some reason, long since forgotten, I wound up in a scuffle with another boy and, though I don’t believe I instigated the dust-up, Mr. Timberlake wasted no time in grabbing me by the neck (I remember that clearly) and marching me down to the principal’s office.

As I sat in the seat of shame outside of Mr. Stern’s office (what a perfect name for a principal, don’t you think?) the teachers and students who paraded by me cast cold eyes that betrayed their thoughts. “Hmm … the Goldberg kid, thought he was all right but I guess he’s a troublemaker.” By the next day, news of my predicament had spread like wildfire throughout the school.

But I didn’t start it! It wasn’t my fault!

Too bad.

Fast-forward more years than I’d like to admit, and, as a CMO of a major brand, I was so proud of how we were optimizing our search results — especially given the money we were spending. Then, one morning, I logged onto my Mac and was stunned.

There on Google, sitting solidly in the fourth position — right below three killer, above-the-fold search listings for my brand — was a listing titled “customer complaints.” Customer complaints about my company.



Keith Goldberg is senior VP-client strategy at EWI Worldwide. He was previously leader of creative and innovation for George P. Johnson Experience Marketing and senior VP-CMO, GMAC Direct.

I quickly clicked. The list of complaints were unsubstantiated, even comical, and the company they were blasting didn’t sound at all like us. But there was our name, plain as day. Were these really unhappy customers? Was this a sabotage campaign from a competitor? I didn’t know. It didn’t matter.


The most frustrating partI kept thinking about the dollars we spent to optimize traffic to our website. I couldn’t believe we had worked so hard to attract thousands of eyeballs and now, when we should be connecting with and converting this treasure trove of customers, a rogue listing was going to raise a red flag to each and every one of them. The most frustrating part was, given human nature, I knew exactly where the vast number of viewers would click first. Argh!

I also knew that if there was a way to measure the amount of marketing dollars wasted, goodwill squandered and customers lost by this negative word-of-mouth, the numbers would be staggering. That was the day I became a believer in reputation management.

Today, when I deploy a reputation-management protocol for clients, it is usually a four-part program (as outlined by the chart below) that begins by analyzing a brand’s true reputation in the marketplace, identifying what reputation mode the brand is in (build, maintain, repair), deploying the appropriate tools to achieve the objective and evaluating success to optimize methods moving forward.

The other key ingredient is vigilance.

In this back-to-the-future, word-of-mouth world made possible by the internet, it only takes one incident to ruin a reputation.

Even if you didn’t do it. Even if it’s not your fault. Too bad.

I learned that the hard way back in the fourth grade.


 Is the age of great customer service dead? Not if MeasuredUp can help it…

Monday, February 9th, 2009

From Portland Business Journal: Unlock the mystery of great customer service“…to develop great service is no mystery. You just have to follow a few basic rules and then consistently adhere to them. The concepts are simple and have been around for centuries, with people being the main ingredient. Remember: Technology is there only to assist us in the process. Here are the six basic reasons customer service fails: * Employees don’t like what they do. * Not asking enough questions. * No specific training. * Poor listening skills. * Not using common sense. “Click here to read the full article, including detailed discussion on the six reasons customer service fails.MeasuredUp’s number one goal is to help bring back the age of truly great customer service; which is why we’ve created a platform for both consumers and companies where they can connect, share concerns, and solve customer service problems. We give companies the tools they need to ask more questions and be better listeners with Direct Connect. And we give consumers the tools they need in order to help them feel heard with the ability to write a review and/or create a support ticket as well as easy access to other useful consumer resources.We’ve already heard from countless consumers and companies alike that the MeasuredUp process works! You can help MeasuredUp bring back great customer service - companies: register today at MeasuredUp to claim your company profile – consumers: create an account and write your own review about a product or service experience. Good or bad, we want to hear about it!

 Keep in touch with your customers, to keep them – period

Thursday, February 5th, 2009

From Portland Business Journal an article extolling the virtues of keeping in touch with customers in order to keep them coming back, time and again.The author suggests that companies looking to cut costs without also looking for “ways to improve their business model and become more productive, with better sales and customer service practices” are doing their customers a great disservice and in turn are damaging customer loyalty, and ultimately, the bottom line. His solution: a simple phone call.MeasuredUp understands that it can be exceptionally time consuming for a small business to reach out by phone to each and every one of it’s customers – and that’s why we’ve created the MeasuredUp Direct Connect feature. Direct Connect is a free online service that gives your company the tools it needs to get in touch, and stay in touch, with customers. Direct Connect allows you and your company to communicate with your customers so that you can help solve their customer service problems and consumer complaints quickly and easily, without having to devote endless resources of time and money to the process. Create your company profile on MeasuredUp today and get started using Direct Connect – it’s free and easy!

 Controversy: The Future Agency Of Record Will Be Social

Tuesday, February 3rd, 2009

An article from the OnlineSPIN blog entitled The Future Agency Of Record Will Be Social:There is a quiet battle raging in the advertising industry over who will become the Agency of Record (AOR) for marketers’ social media efforts. With traditional media for delivering advertising declining in reach and effectiveness, and an even greater call for advertising efficiency in a down economy, becoming a marketer’s social media AOR can be a huge win and provide a map to a much-needed new business model and revenue stream for agencies.”Read the full-text here.

 The Power of Many: Social Connectivity Signals Changes

Tuesday, December 18th, 2007

December 17, 2007
By Brian Morrissey

NEW YORK In November, Facebook’s 23-year-old founder, Mark Zuckerberg, stood on a low stage in Manhattan and made a boast to hundreds of advertisers and agencies that caused more than a few snickers afterwards: “Once every 100 years, the way that media works fundamentally changes.”

In the subsequent weeks, Zuckerberg’s hubris was slammed, particularly when Facebook was forced to backtrack on its plan to pipe product purchases to users’ friends, a system known as Beacon. One writer, former Business 2.0 editor Josh Quittner, even went so far as to title an article, “RIP Facebook?”

Yet despite the hyperbole and inevitable backlash from once-fawning admirers, Zuckerberg’s proclamation has the ring of truth to it when looked at in the wider view. More than ever in the modern era, media and advertising are changing, as epitomized by the rush of middle-aged users to social nets like Facebook. The Internet is finally beginning to live up to its promise to change media and advertising from a one-to-many, passive proposition to a many-to-many experience premised on social connectivity. For media companies and advertisers, this could make Zuckerberg’s irrational exuberance seem not so irrational in retrospect. In fact, the fundamental changes he was referring to are already under way.

“I believe the media business has changed more in the last five years than in the 500 years before that,” Peter Horan, CEO of IAC’s media and advertising unit, told a gathering of publishing, advertiser and agency executives earlier this month.

What’s most changed is how people access information. The Internet has thus far been a search-dominated medium, using faceless algorithms to sort through masses of information for the right link. Google’s role as the starting point of the many users’ Web experience gave rise to what The Search author John Battelle calls “the database of intentions”: people express themselves directly to Google, which can then match up a limitless supply of information to satisfy any need, from a word definition to a retailer selling cashmere sweaters. That’s been a sweet business for Google, which is on pace to rack up over $15 billion in revenue for 2007.

Peer recommendation comes of age

But what comes next? Search, for all its benefits, doesn’t do a great job of helping people separate the wheat from the chaff. The top result for my search is the same as yours.

Many observers see social connections as a credible alternative to search in how we find information, consume media and make product decisions—all premised on the power of peer recommendation. “Social networking is as significant a behavioral shift as search,” says Sarah Fay, CEO of Carat, part of Aegis Group. “The way search has infiltrated our lives, social networking [has become] the fabric of our lives.”

Study after study, not to mention common sense, suggests that when friends recommend a movie, product or event, it has more weight than hearing from a commercial message. Beacon was supposed to morph this premise into an ad vehicle, only to fall flat on privacy concerns. Still, the $15 billion valuation pinned to Facebook is a direct result of the belief it will turn its 58 million-plus users into a formidable advertising opportunity. And other companies are fast at work making this a reality. Archetype Media, for instance, has begun Social Vibe, a marketplace for consumers to get sponsorships (rewards) from brands they endorse within their social networks. Izea, formerly PayPerPost, is building a similar marketplace for bloggers.

The Tay Zonday DIY media model

For months, a Minneapolis graduate student had posted quirky videos to YouTube of himself singing covers and original songs in a remarkably deep voice that didn’t seem to fit his small, youthful appearance. Zonday’s “Chocolate Rain,” first posted in April, generated a tsunami of attention, racking up more than 12 million views.

By the end of the year, Dr Pepper had approached Zonday to record a follow-up version called “Cherry Chocolate Rain” in advance of next year’s introduction of Cherry Chocolate Dr Pepper. Creative merits aside, Zonday brought something else to the table: his own network. Dr Pepper relied on Zonday’s YouTube network of 20,000 subscribers to spread the Dr Pepper video. Within two weeks, it gained more than 1.5 million views. By that time, Zonday had turned himself into a mini-media property, joining a YouTube program that will show ads on his videos and give him a cut.

While the rise of a quirky personality like Tay Zonday is undeniably amusing, the story also points to how social connections on open platforms like YouTube are feeding the process of distributed media. Take Tila Tequila. At the start of the year, she was merely a wannabe model who had an inordinate number of MySpace friends, over 1 million. She was able to parlay her social networking base into a record deal and a top-rated reality show, A Shot at Love With Tila Tequila, on MTV.

Social media is not just about becoming famous. Within their own, much smaller networks, people are becoming media distributors via widgets, tiny Web applications that can be embedded on blogs and social-network profile pages. MySpace has long let users embed photo slide shows, video clips and other tools of self-expression into their pages. Having watched YouTube grow into a force on the back of distribution through the site, it sought earlier this year to exert more control, blocking some widget makers that included advertising. It eventually backed down. Rival Facebook opened its site to outside developers to build widgets that used social data, and now over 10,000 have been created, with the most popular spread friend to friend. By the end of the year, more than 50 percent of Web users encountered a widget monthly, according to comScore, typically through a slide show or video posted to a social network or blog.

In this regard, social networks like Facebook, MySpace and Bebo are likely to spawn millions of mini-networks where content is shared among a trusted circle. “MySpace isn’t a social network with 120 million people,” says Greg Verdino, chief strategy officer at new marketing shop Crayon. “It’s 120 million social networks. There’s a lot of focus on consumer-generated media when there’s more impact on consumer-recommended content.”

Brands have nowhere to hide

As consumers take control of the spreading of media, they invariably have a say over how brands are perceived. Old notions of planning a brand image through commercial messages are running up against consumers actively voicing their opinions to each other in venues as diverse as message boards, consumer reviews, blogs and social networks. Problems can occur when there’s a disconnect between the rosy image dreamed up by marketers and the everyday reality expressed by consumers.

The crossroads the advertising industry stands at was on full display this year in Cannes. Dove won the Film category for “Evolution,” a touching short film by WPP Group’s Ogilvy & Mather that looked at the beauty industry’s false and manipulative notions of beauty. Buoyed by the ad’s impact—”Evolution” has been viewed more than 5.5 million times on YouTube—Dove released a more pointed follow-up in October, “Onslaught,” which shows an angelic little girl deluged by the marketing industry’s messages about beauty. The video met with wide praise from critics and industry types. But then something else happened. A video response was posted to YouTube, pointing out the hypocrisy of Unilever, which owns not only Dove, but Axe—a product that peddles stereotypes of women as little more than sex objects.

Although the video response gathered only a fraction of the views that Dove’s ad did, it showed how brands can get called out on empty promises in an age when connections are paramount. Wal-Mart found that out this year, too. Eager to get involved with social media, it ran a back-to-school campaign on Facebook that fell flat after the brand page was flooded with young critics of the company’s labor practices.

Some brands have taken the criticisms to heart. Back in August 2005, Dell’s customer-service problems drew the ire of blogger Jeff Jarvis. His resulting “Dell Hell” tirade sparked similar stories of shoddy services from dozens of others. Dell responded, after initial fumbling, by forming its own blog and an outreach team to contact those posting negative experiences with its products. The company went even further last February by launching IdeaStorm, a section of its site that solicits ideas from customers and gives them a forum for feedback, positive and negative.

The lesson for brands: The days of papering over poor products with snazzy messages are faltering now that we’re connected. That means the once mundane area of customer service becomes an important definer of the brand experience, says Pete Blackshaw, CMO of Nielsen BuzzMetrics. “That’s unfamiliar terrain for anyone in the marketing business, but it’s low-hanging fruit.”

What’s a friend worth?

But in a year marked by brands’ experimentation in social media, including MySpace profile pages—what Jeremiah Owyang, an analyst with Forrester Research, describes as fishing “where the fish are”—agencies are left with a quandary: How can such voluntary interactions be measured?

It’s often noted that the Internet’s greatest strength is its measurability, but when brands move from counting clicks and site visits to connections, the system breaks down, says Troy Young, CMO of VideoEgg, a social media advertising network that embeds overlay “invitations” into a brand experience. “It’s a real challenge because true engagement cost doesn’t fit into a buyer spreadsheet,” he explains. “The whole media marketplace is priced around the cost of impressions to unengaged users.”

The solution is unclear. For now, the ad industry is left with familiar forms of measurement, mostly clicks and impressions, and what will follow is becoming an ever-important discussion.

The price of all this social connectivity is the inundation of the mundane, from Facebook updates on what groups people join to Twitter messages on what someone had for lunch. And as Beacon showed, the line between what is personal and public is blurring—and sometimes the decision is outside of our control. Yet no matter where the line is drawn, the social trend set in motion this year is likely to only continue.

“Once someone starts to use social networks,” Fay says, “they rarely go back.”

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