In which Jill in gets a bad grade, but keeps a good client
My client is a long-time, self-described “data geek” and we get together when I’m in the Bay Area for status updates and some gossip. So here we are sipping our lattes at the headquarters espresso lounge and we’re not talking about data models (yet), open source BI tools, or what new information Marketing needs for its campaigns. “Our CRM is Web two-oh,” he tells me as he bites a biscotti.
This is a departure for him, and I’m not sure what to make of it. “Really?” I say, cursing my lack of creativity but at the same time not wanting to prematurely prescribe anything.
“Yeah,” he says as he chews. “We have a corporate LinkedIn profile, our sales reps are friending all our clients on Facebook, and we have a corporate commercial on YouTube. AND,” he adds, inserting a pregnant pause for effect, “I just convinced our CEO to do Twitter!”
“So how are you measuring success?” I ask him. It’s a genuine question, but his expression changes immediately, and I realize I just graded a C minus in my role as Trusted Advisor. My client explains that though they haven’t worked out measurement yet, the fact that they’ve embraced social media is in itself a major cultural leap, as well as a personal career coup for him.
But is it really? Anyone in a bowling league, a reading group, or yes, a corporation, can throw together a MySpace page or cultivate a tribe of tweeple on Twitter. The adoption of online tools doesn’t automatically propel a company forward into the new world of social media any more than partying at Social Hollywood makes you a hipster. The art isn’t in establishing a social media presence as much as it is closing the “talking-listening-acting” gap.
When social media pioneer Scott Monty joined Ford Motor Company last year he set about helping on-line content providers tell “richer stories” about the Ford brand, once engaging a web site owner that Ford’s legal department had considered suing in a positive partnership dialog. The point is that Monty and his team have their ear to the ground when it comes to the Ford brand. They regularly act on the information they access—from online tools and elsewhere—to refine that brand. And yes, a potential Ford Focus buyer can indeed use the website’s RSS feeder to get regular SNPRs (Social Media Press Releases) and other updates about the car pushed to her reader or e-mail account.
My client wants to talk to me about the virtues of Facebook over MySpace and how FriendFeed can help drive more engaged customer conversations. But I owe it to him to tell him that this isn’t the hard part. The hard part is establishing new business processes and job roles in order to use these and other emerging social media tools effectively. It’s establishing on-line personas that are legitimate and empowered to engage in sometimes-difficult conversations. It’s about more than listening to or even celebrating customers. It’s about formalizing new ways to capture this data, use it to re-segment customers, measure your share-of-voice, and redefine customers’ experience with your products and your brand.
And if you make some friends in the bargain? Well, that’s kewl too. E-mail me your comments—or tweet me @jilldyche if you’re already there.