In social media, going global starts with local – How localization and contextualization increase engagement

Today’s post highlights a valuable webinar opportunity with Brian Solis, principal of Altimeter Group and author of Engage! and The End of Business As Usual.  The webinar is hosted by Expion, a Social: IRL sponsor and leading provider of social media management solutions for enterprise clients.

Brian Solis

When brands effectively communicate at the local level, they reach their target customers with relevant content that resonates. Yet integrating social media into a marketing strategy presents unique challenges for regional, national and global brands. How do today’s top consumer brands manage their social strategy effectively across the globe and throughout their organizations?

Brian Solis from Altimeter Group and Peter Heffring from Expion explore the strategies and implementation tactics the leading global companies use to manage their social presence across different countries and markets.

Brian’s research shows that localizing social content for specific markets and cultures dramatically multiplies the impact in terms of engagement, virality and actual sales.

Peter will detail how technology supports Global Brands and the multiple strategies they use to form communities that retain a unified brand presence on a global scale.

Join Altimeter Group and Expion for this free webinar to explore how the leading consumer companies deploy a variety of strategies to reach customers at a local level.

In Social Media, Going Global Starts With Local

Thursday, January 26

2:30 EST / 1:30 CST

Click for Free Registration


Companies Continue to Struggle Managing Their Social Media

Today’s post is a guest post from Joe Cox, Marketing Director at SocialVolt, a Social: IRL sponsor offering web-based social media management solutions for companies and agencies that integrate engagement, brand monitoring, campaigns, influencer management, and compliance. 

Join SocialVolt’s Joe Cox and Altimeter Group’s Jeremiah Owyang on February 15 to discuss the findings from this report in more depth. Attendees will walk away with a great guide for how to effectively implement a corporate social media strategy. Click here to register for this free webcast.

A new report from Jeremiah Owyang and the brilliant folks over at Altimeter Group warns companies of the real threat of being buried by the proliferation of social media.  The report states, “Beyond coordination challenges, unchecked accounts and disparate customer interactions expose brands to a host of legal, compliance, and fragmented brand-perception risks.”

The study found that global corporations are struggling to manage an average of 178 business-related social media accounts.  No, that is not a typo – I said 178 business-related social media accounts!  To be even more clear, these are not personal accounts, but all accounts opened by the company.

Here’s the breakdown:

Base: 140 global corporate social media program managers at companies with over 1000 employees (Q2 2011) Source: Altimeter Group

At first glance, this stat can be hard to fully grasp or even believe, but with large brands, the accounts can rack up with blinding speed even after only a few years of being active in the social space.

Let me give you a good example:

When I was working as a field marketer at a large beverage company in 2009, my peers and I began creating local Facebook and Twitter accounts for each large city in which we were actively holding events, had sampling teams, had conducted influencer outreach, etc.

Within a year, we had more than 100 disparate accounts with no coordination among each other before corporate decided to combine all of this activity into one single brand account on both Facebook and Twitter.

Within a month, we had abandoned all those local accounts…but what happened to them?  Were they all shut down?  I have a sneaking suspicion that most are still out there, un-manned ghost ships floating about in the social void.  Could those accounts be a risk for the company?  Certainly.

Remember that this example is only one brand, and only in the United States.  You can see how companies with multiple brands and products, multiple locations, and even separately run marketing teams in different countries can start collecting this social dust like a Swiffer.

If you don’t have goals and objectives, you are winging it.

My favorite part of the report is that, on average, 70% of enterprises asked said that their social media efforts were meeting business objectives.  That’s great news, right?  But wait, there’s more.  Only 43% of the same brands asked said that they actually had formalized goals and objectives for their social media teams.

Base: 140 global corporate social media program managers at companies with over 1000 employees (Q2 2011) Source: Altimeter Group

This is critical in understanding why businesses are having such trouble managing their social efforts.  Without putting a stake in the ground, without goals and objectives being set before campaigns and quarterly plans kick-off, there’s no way to determine the success of said campaigns.  It becomes almost laughably clear when the data is compared on Altimeter’s report, but this detachment is incredibly easy for large corporations to fall into when they are managing so many teams, brands, accounts, etc.  This is summed up very clearly in Altimeter’s report:  “This symptom of ‘fire, ready, aim’ will continue as new business units within the corporation continue to adopt social technologies – this is just the start.”  Basically, the problem is only going to get bigger, so put your foot down now and commit to a proper social media infrastructure before it becomes more complicated, more expensive, and potentially brand-damaging.

Time on screen isn’t scalable, but social media management systems (SMMS) are.

Company wide coordination with social media efforts is a challenge for companies and large brands, but it’s the key to success.  The study points out that less than half of all companies have a coordinated approach to company-wide social media deployments.

Base: 140 global corporate social media program managers at companies with over 1000 employees (Q2 2011) Source: Altimeter Group

The problem lies with the breakneck pace adoption rate.  Social media adoption has grown at a disproportional rate compared to the tools to manage it, and that has directly led to companies not keeping pace with their social media accounts.

In the report, Elizabeth Rizzo, director of interactive strategies at SHIFT Communications said, “When publishing through these platforms you often can’t stay on top of all these messages and can’t tell what’s been responded to.”  Because brands can’t be everywhere at once and often don’t have the tools in place to help streamline that process, they quickly become drowned in reactive online behavior and lose the ability to get a grip on the big picture.

With an infrastructure, goals, and objectives in place, enterprises will begin to rely more heavily on social media management systems to untangle and streamline their efforts.

Join SocialVolt and our guest Jeremiah Owyang for a webcast on February 15, to further discuss these and many more of the social media issues facing corporations.  You may register for the webcast here.

Less of a book and more of a translator between “social media people” and “business people”

Today’s post is a guest post from Joe Cox, Marketing Director at SocialVolt, a Social: IRL sponsor offering web-based social media management solutions for companies and agencies that integrate engagement, brand monitoring, campaigns, influencer management, and compliance.  

The new book by Jason Falls and Erik Deckers, “No Bullsh*t Social Media,” (affiliate link) is really less of a book and more of a translator between “social media people” and “business people”.

It would be a mistake to skip this book just because it’s another book about social media. I’ve read them all too, and at some point you’ve heard it all and it starts to become less about learning and more about preaching to the choir.

However, this book is not a 10,000 feet in the air look down at the world of social media, but instead a boiled down, in the trenches approach to explaining what social media can do and won’t do for a company.  The key to its value is that it does this in an absolute business first approach and backs up everything it says with case studies and comparisons to traditional marketing and business in a language that executives understand.

It’s the Rosetta Stone of social media marketing for business.  Use it as a translation device between you and the decision makers in your company for the best success.

The book reminds us not to get caught up in the hype.  Yes, it’s a different place than it was three years ago, but social media still has a long way to go before it’s used universally as a way to communicate to customers.  There’s also a huge gap between those using it and those using it effectively.  For example, look at Altimeter Group’s new study that found less than half of companies that are using social media are doing so with a strategic plan behind it.  Essentially, people are still flying blind with no clear goals or objectives.

My Favorites Parts of the Book:

The book is written in a colorful way from the title onward and proves that a book doesn’t have to be boring and long winded to have real business worth.

Early in the book they tackle ROI in a great way.  It’s always the big elephant in the room and the first thing that people who don’t understand social media will bring up.

Their explanation is great!  Turns out, ROI isn’t even the right question to begin with.  You can’t ask what the ROI is before you even get started, it’s a backwards approach! ROI is a business metric and that means you’ll need to set business goals that track to your social media strategy.  Yes it can be done, and we currently do exactly this with digital as well as media buying.

It also needs to be said that there is more worth to social media than simply financial.  They bring up a great quote from Meerman Scott asking, “What’s the ROI of your secretary?!”  Meaning that you don’t measure the ROI of the person who answers the phones at the front desk, so how is social media different?

I also particularly enjoyed that towards the end of the book, Jason talks about his hometown of Pikeville, Kentucky and how a small town ecosystem mirrors closely what we see happening in social media today.  Since I come from the small town of Pleasant Hill, Missouri, the comparison really hit home and I could clearly visually and relate to his point.

I greatly enjoyed this book, but not just as a book to teach people what social media is, I enjoyed it because it helps people see how social media has matured into something a business can utilize safely, effectively, and most importantly, strategically.  Yet this book does it in a way that still keeps all the “squishy” parts of social media intact.  I recommend you go out and grab this book and don’t miss Jason as he swings into Wichita, Kansas, for a Social:IRL event on January 31.

Join Social: IRL and Jason Falls in Wichita on January 31.

Limited registrations just $35.  All attendees will receive a free copy of Jason’s “No BS Social Media” book reviewed above.

Register for Jason Falls: No BS Social Media

In with the new, without tossing the old – Don’t just add the newest and neatest media to your marketing mix: integrate it

Today’s post is a guest post from Jessica Best, Community Director at emfluence, a full service interactive marketing company based in Kansas City.

Despite all the talk about emerging media killing the old standbys, they simply aren’t disappearing. It is getting a lot more crowded at the table, though. Email, Web 2.0 and Social Media all joined the party and our customers are ravenous for them.

As marketers have learned, it’s important to have a presence wherever the consumer wants us to be. Maybe that means posting to a blog or maybe that means pinning to boards on the newly popular Pinterest. Maybe it means making our customer service teams available on Twitter and not just via phone numbers. Or hosting our latest promotion at our Facebook page instead of at our website or by mailing in entries. Maybe it means using email to drive traffic to websites and profiles.

As we add more options, the key is not to just add the newest and neatest media to your marketing mix: integrate it. Twitter is the reason TV viewers have started returning to the couch to watch shows in real-time. Viewers can follow live running commentary on Twitter using a television show’s hashtag (i.e. #Glee).

Here are a few ways you can integrate your tried-and-true marketing media with emerging media:

  • Take your best television and radio spots social: add your funniest or most touching commercials to YouTube and spare the chance to share the laugh or smile.
  • Direct your postcard readers to your mobile-optimized website, where they can sign up for more information, subscribe to your email marketing or share content with their social networks.
  • Ask new email subscribers to follow your Tweets or become fans on Facebook, so you can share conversations with them, too.
  • Encourage your social audiences to subscribe to regular email updates, so they don’t miss a message about an exclusive deal or access opportunity.
  • Capture your inbound search traffic on your site with social media asks and an email sign-up form. Stay connected and nurture that lead to increase conversion rates.

Whatever your marketing plan is for 2012, be sure you’re integrating all your powerful marketing channels – traditional and new – so they can help each other out.

What media are in your marketing mix this year? How can you integrate across channels to maximize return on investment?

Disaster Recovery Can Help You Sail Safely in the Cloud

Guest post by Maureen Griffith, Communications Specialist for Codero, a leading provider of optimized hosting infrastructure who creates scalable solutions using dedicated, managed and cloud hosting services.

As a hosting provider, Codero took great interest in the recent Amazon cloud outage in April which affected a great many of its customers. The online retailer Amazon is also the world’s largest cloud-computing provider. The four-day disruption occurred when a configuration change to upgrade the capacity of the primary network was executed incorrectly. Backup procedures failed to work due to the sheer volume of data that was incorrectly diverted.

Consequently, even weeks later, there is still a lot of buzz out there questioning the reliability of cloud.

Cloud is a very desirable service because it is highly scalable based on your needs – you only pay for the resources you use. Despite the outcry about cloud outages, cloud is not going away. Demand is growing for cloud thanks in part to its cost-effectiveness and green benefits.

The Amazon crisis impacted a wide variety of social media sites which rely on cloud hosted infrastructure like Reddit and Foursquare. Cloud services are known for their reliability and scalability so it’s only natural that many—especially social media sites—have placed a great deal of trust in them. But IT managers should not be complacent. They should consider upfront how they will respond to their users if their cloud services are interrupted because they can be interrupted. Those businesses using cloud services should take the lead in planning for service failures themselves.  Technology departments who deliver applications to customers need to be aware of the management tools that can give them a greater level of control and protection over their cloud environments.

You may not have the in-house capabilities to react quickly to cloud problems so relying on a hosting provider to create a disaster recovery and business continuity plan is a proactive move.  Codero helps customers plan and put safeguards in place with services architected to respond to failure in the cloud.

A Disaster Recovery (DR) plan is a recommended best practice to be used with cloud as a backup solution to prevent data loss. With DR, you can retrieve lost data and ensure business continuity if you suffer an interruption in cloud service. Think of DR as the life preserver on the sailboat. You don’t want to sail without some backup protection. You don’t want to fail to design for your cloud computing model. Balance the cost and complexity with the risk. Every component has its own architecture and there are tradeoffs between levels of resiliency and cost.

The first step to an effective cloud solution is to ask your hosting provider questions that give you the information you need to build in resilience. Design for failure. Inquire about recovery and redundancy before you make your ultimate cloud decision.