DoubleTree by Hilton: Using Social Media to Enhance Customer Experience

Social: IRL recently participated in Expion’s second social business summit, Smart Social 2013. This invitation-only event featured some of the largest brands and most respected agencies from across the U.S.

Over the course of the summit, Social: IRL had the opportunity of interviewing a number of the event’s speakers and attendees. One of those interviews was with Diana Plazas, Director of Global Brand Marketing for DoubleTree by Hilton.

In the interview, which is embedded below, Diana describes how social media allows DoubleTree to gain valuable insights on consumer needs and expectations, better connect with their customers, and enhance many aspects of customer experience.

Additional interviews will be shared over the coming days via Expion’s Google Plus Page. You can also visit Expion’s blog to read event recaps, featuring valuable social business insights from speakers and attendees.


Find Your Marketing North Star With Social Media Monitoring

Guest post by Eric Melin, Manager Marketing & Communications at Social: IRL sponsor, Spiral16.

Spiral16 North StarMarketers are continually challenged with finding ways to measure their social media programs and digital marketing campaigns.

There are a ton of different metrics out there, but the most important thing that marketers and analysts can do is find that critical correlation between the right metrics that comes together to tell the story — that “north star,” as it were, that will guide your strategy and action going forward.

An article I ran across on Time’s Swampland blog about politics and the economy spells this out even more clearly. It’s called The Most Important Chart in American Politics, and it’s above. The chart identifies the single most crucial piece of President Obama’s 20012 re-election campaign: his political north star.

There are three lines mapped out across a timeline of the last two decades:

“The first two lines — productivity and per capita gross domestic product — are rising. This is the unmistakable American success story, the one reflected in record corporate profits, growing wealth accumulation and the unmatched efficiency of this country’s economy. The third line tracks median household income, as measured by the U.S. Census. It shows the story of frustration and stagnation that so many Americans long ago accepted as a reality.”

It is crystal clear when looking at the chart that the third line diverged from the first two after the year 2000. You could fill up a book debating the causes of that divergence, but the end result is an unmistakable political takeaway: “Much of the U.S. stopped feeling the benefits of a growing national economy.”

How does this apply to social media monitoring?  

Business metrics are financial, while web metrics are NOT. The trick is to correlate the two in a meaningful way — like the “political north star” chart above.   READ MORE

Social Strategy Insights: #Expion13 Charlene Li Interview

Social: IRL recently participated in Expion’s second social business summit, Smart Social 2013. This invitation-only event featured some of the largest brands and most respected agencies from across the U.S.

Over the course of the summit, Social: IRL had the opportunity of interviewing a number of the event’s speakers and attendees. One of those interviews was with the event’s keynote speaker Charlene Li, founder of Altimeter Group and author of the critically acclaimed bestselling books Open Leadership and Groundswell.

In the interview, which is embedded below, Charlene shares valuable social business insights and discusses social media strategy vs. tactics, the importance of listening as a foundation for social activity, and ROI vs. business impacts.

Additional interviews will be shared over the coming days via Expion’s Google Plus Page. You can also visit Expion’s blog to read event recaps, featuring valuable social business insights from speakers and attendees.


The Social Business Textbook: A Valuable New Resource for Social Communications Professionals

Today, we share a guest post by Jordan Slabaugh, Director of Social Media at Social: IRL sponsor, Spredfast. We are grateful to Spredfast and each of our sponsors for their support, and enjoy sharing valuable resources they provide, such as this Social Business Textbook.  While social continues to grow and change, there are foundational concepts and best practices that all social practitioners should know and understand. Spredfast created this comprehensive 45 page textbook to be a resource that helps bring members of growing social teams up to speed and the go-to primer on the main elements of social programs for those already in the industry. In addition to providing a strategic discussion of each social topic, they include models to visualize each concept, brand action items to make concepts practicable, and brand examples to show each element in action. 

Spredfast Social Business TextbookThe world of social communications is exhilarating.  As consumers, social media offers us the ability to connect with brands, products, and topics we care most about. And for brands, social media has blown open the proverbial company doors to meet the communication expectations of these consumers, leaving seemingly endless opportunities to connect with, engage, and delight social customers.

In a rapidly evolving communication space, social professionals have had to become scholars of sorts, studying up on social business practices with one-off resources and examples. But now that social business is an established field, we at Spredfast saw the need for a foundational resource to serve as a primary guide for members of ever-increasing social teams, and an expansion of the fundamentals for those of us already in the field. And with that, we’re excited to introduce the Social Business Textbook.

For some social brands, identifying the keys to social business success can feel like gumshoeing it in a complicated mystery novel. But what if these practices were presented in familiar terms, like primary school subjects, to make them more relatable? We set out to standardize social concepts to help brands get back to basics.

What made it into the syllabus?

 Spredfast Social History conceptHistory [Social Listening]: Concerted listening efforts focused on the people, conversations, and relevant activity about your brand to yield valuable insights to understand past events, inform current decisions, and improve future outcomes.

 Government [Social Organization & Governance]: Combatting brand anarchy by defining internal structure and ensuring the right rules and guidance are in place to protect both the brand itself and the people behind the social activity.

Music [Orchestration]: Orchestrating multiple people having multiple conversations across multiple social media accounts and networks on behalf of your brand with planned workflows, approval paths, and coordinated content distribution.

Math [Measurement]: Embracing the measurement of social media metrics to perform goal-oriented analysis of social program performance.


English [Creating Social Content:] Creating and curating great content for social media distribution to increase engagement and action, and conversing with customers in ways that create value for your network and drive business outcomes.

Social Studies [Segmentation and Targeting Social Audiences]: Segmenting audiences based on demographic and technographic data provided by social networks and targeting tailored messages to individual segments.

Student Council [Social Engagement & Community]: Creating meaningful experiences on social channels that engage audiences, inspire action, and build brand awareness and loyalty.

Chemistry [Paid/Owned/Earned]: Combining owned assets with earned audience interactions and paid advertising to optimize social efforts and business impact.


“Example is the school of mankind, and they will learn at no other.” – Edmund Burke

The most insightful and applicable textbooks don’t just present concepts and theories – they show them in action. You may understand as a brand that engagement increases loyalty, but what does that look like? And who can you learn from? From the successful social initiatives of brands like REI and its engaging “REI 1440 Project” campaign to the stellar mathematical measurement efforts AT&T has implemented, the Social Business Textbook takes strategy and highlights what it looks like in practice.

“If I have seen further it is by standing on the shoulders of giants.” – Isaac Newton

A glance at any scholarly work will show multiple sources, citations, and perspectives of subject matter experts. With so many great minds leading discussion and research around social media innovation and success, we realized that hearing from people like David ArmanoJeremiah OwyangJay BaerMichael BritoAnn HandleyChuck HemannBrian Solis and Rebecca Lieb in their own words provides powerful support to concepts presented in Textbook. We sought out some of the most insightful thoughts and guidance published by our favorite thought leaders and included them in the Social Business Textbook to provide additional perspective from leading scholars of social.

“A little knowledge that acts is worth infinitely more than much knowledge that is idle.” – Khalil Gibran

While putting together Textbook, we asked: “what are words without action?” Combining the strategy behind imperative social business subjects with real world applications, each chapter presents actionable steps for brands to begin, mature, or optimize their social programs.

From our classroom to yours, we hope the Social Business Textbook will help kickstart [or grow] great social activities in your organization.


Click here to download your free copy of the Social Business Textbook.

Closing the Gap Between Social and ROI: Speaking the Language of Your CEO

Guest post by Eric Melin, Manager Marketing & Communications at Spiral16.

SkepticThere are plenty of CEOs who are still skeptical about the ultimate value of social media.

A new report says that a shocking 43% of B2B companies admit that their CEOs “never consider” their social media reputation. 74% of CEOs think that marketers focus too much on the “latest marketing trends such as social media,” and say they can rarely demonstrate its business value, according to Fournaise Marketing Group.

I get where the CEOs are coming from. If my marketing department told me that the company’s social media profiles were consistently gaining new likes and follows, I would say “So what? What are you doing with them?”

Closing the Gap Between Social and ROI

Companies need to be able to prove that their social media efforts are paying off in a business sense. They need to be able to go beyond surface-value metrics and correlate their social media and web presence with tangible business metrics. The problem is that ROI is a financial metric and social media metrics are decidedly non-financial.

So what approach do you take?  READ MORE


Social: IRL Nonprofit Workshop Series – A “Thank You” To Our Sponsors

Over the last few months, Social: IRL has hosted social media for nonprofit workshops in Springfield and Kansas City, Missouri, and will soon be announcing additional workshops in Jefferson City and St. Louis, Missouri.

These events have been offered free of charge to nonprofit attendees as part of Social: IRL’s ongoing education and advocacy initiative.

Offering the events at no charge has only been possible thanks to the support of our series sponsors.

We wanted to extend a special thank you to each of our series sponsors. Thank you Spiral16, emfluence, RAZ Mobile, and The Rocket Group. In Kansas City, we were also fortunate to form a partnership with Nonprofit Connect and the Philanthropy Midwest Conference, and look forward to working with them on future training and education opportunities.

A special thank you to MasterYourCard, who support the series as our presenting sponsor:

MasterYourCard is proud to be the presenting sponsor of Social: IRL Social Media for Nonprofit Organizations.   Master Your Card is a public education campaign by MasterCard that helps consumers, businesses and governments get more for their money by mastering the technology behind electronic payments.  Although MasterCard is based in New York, its heart is right here in Missouri. The heart of their work is safely processing millions of transactions a day from all over the world. And, every one of those transactions happens right here at their facility in St. Louis, Missouri. We invite you to learn about the safe, simple and smart financial solutions available from MasterCard through its electronic payment network. Visit for more information.

Thank you again to each of our sponsors. These events would not be possible without their support.

You can learn more about MasterYourCard and how they can help empower your nonprofit organization by watching this short video.


ManageFlitter Make-Over

We’ve been long-time fans and users of Twitter management tool ManageFlitter. Last year, we were happy to welcome them as a Social: IRL partner, and back in August joined in congratulating the team on reaching a milestone 1 million users.

The ManageFlitter user interface recently underwent a comprehensive overhaul, and at the same time the toolset was expanded with some powerful new features.

Co-founder James Peter demonstrates some of those new features in this short video. You can also learn more in ManageFlitter’s recent blog post.

#Expion12 Video Highlights: Racing Ahead with Social

To wrap up our series of interviews from Expion’s recent Social Business Summit, we asked a few of the summit’s attendees “how can businesses race ahead with social going in to 2013?”

In this short video we hear from 360i’s Matt Wurst , Garmin’s Jake Jacobson, and H&R Block’s Scott Gulbransen.

See our earlier posts for interviews with Matt Ridings, Amber Naslund, Jeremiah Owyang, and Jason Falls.

Contact Expion at if you would like to receive details about their next Social Business Summit, taking place in 2013.

#Expion12 Video Highlights: Jason Falls

Next in our series of interviews from Expion’s recent Social Business Summit, we chat with Social Media Explorer’s Jason Falls.

Jason raised some eyebrows when he opened the Summit by telling attendees that “Social Business” was “a BS term.” In this short video, Jason explains why.

In this second video, Jason talks about “the ultimate goal” in social business, and the “first domino” effect of great content.

We’ll be posting one final video soon, featuring H&R Block’s Scott Gulbransen, 360i’s Matt Wurst, and Garmin’s Jake Jacobson.

See our earlier posts for interviews with Matt Ridings, Amber Naslund, and Jeremiah Owyang.

Contact Expion at if you would like to receive details about their next Social Business Summit, taking place in 2013.

#Expion12 Video Highlights: Jeremiah Owyang

Next in our series of interviews from Expion’s recent Social Business Summit, Erica McClenny talks to the event’s keynote speaker, Altimeter Group’s Jeremiah Owyang.

In this short video interview, Jeremiah shares insights on social business success and offers advice for those seeking c-suite buy-in.

We’ll be posting additional videos soon, featuring Social Media Exploer’s Jason Falls, H&R Block’s Scott Gulbransen, 360i’s Matt Wurst, and Garmin’s Jake Jacobson.

See our earlier post for a two-part interview with Amber Naslund and Matt Ridings.


#Expion12 Video Highlights: Amber Naslund and Matt Ridings

Social: IRL recently participated in the inaugural Social Business Summit hosted by our friends at Expion. During the course of the event we had the opportunity to chat with a number of speakers and attendees and will be sharing a series of short video interviews.

We start with Amber Naslund and Matt Ridings, who took time out after their keynote presentation to share some additional social business insights.

In this first video, Matt and Amber discuss the importance of creating the right foundation and framework for social business.

In this second video, Matt and Amber discuss the role of the social media “Center of Excellence,” which they also describe as the “center of gravity,” at the heart of the hub and spoke model for social business.

We’ll be posting more videos soon, including interviews with Jeremiah Owyang and Jason Falls, and insights from H&R Block’s Scott Gulbransen, 360i’s Matt Wurst, and Garmin’s Jake Jacobson.

You can contact Expion at if you would like to receive details about their next Social Business Summit, taking place in 2013.

Uncovering The State of Corporate Social Programs: The Spredfast Engagement Index Benchmark

Guest post by Jordan Slabaugh, Director of Social Media at Spredfast, a Social: IRL sponsor providing an enterprise-class social media management system that allows organizations to manage, monitor, and measure their voice across multiple social media channels.

Over the years, we’ve asked as social practitioners how to quantitatively gauge our social programs. The surge of social business has left many questions about the dynamics of companies’ social. How many people are active across the company? How often are companies publishing? What level of engagement are they receiving from audiences? In short: how do you as a social brand stack up next to your peers?

It’s something we’ve discussed at great lengths at Spredfast. And now, we’re excited to announce the launch of the first Spredfast Social Engagement Index Report.


The Spredfast Social Engagement Index Benchmark Report defines the current state engagement across social brands by looking at quantitative data from real social brands from Q2 of 2012. The data uncovers how brands are engaging internally – people, business groups, activity and publishing – and how they are building external engagement – network size, interactions and social reach. We looked at data from 154 Spredfast customers, captured within the Spredfast social media management system (SMMS), which was analyzed by market research firm, Mindwave Research. The 30-page report focused on the following key indicators of internal and external social engagement:

  • Number of users
  • Number of groups
  • Number of messages published across all channels
  • Total activity
  • Current network size
  • Total reach
  • Total engagement


The Social Engagement Index Report breaks down each area of social programs, highlighting the averages across brands, and then segmenting out three groups that emerged based on their level of engagement –“Activating”, “Expanding” and “Proliferating” (more detail on this in the Methodology section of the report).  The goal was to pinpoint levels of engagement and plot current trends across actual companies running social programs. Below, you can see where the 154 Spredfast customers analyzed fall. Organization represents users, publishing, activity and groups where Audience represents network size, external engagement interactions and social reach.











The data validates the growth of social business and the findings point to a few key trends across the industry:

  • Social media is no longer one person’s or one team’s job. On average, 29 people are participating in social programs within an SMMS across 11 business groups and 51 social accounts. Gone are the days when one social champion or social media team is expected to “own” all social activity. The trend is to activate more people to have more targeted, relevant conversations.
  • Companies are expanding social engagement opportunities through increased publishing and activity. Companies published an average of 4,924 messages over the quarter, averaging engagement of 2 million interactions during Q2 of 2012.  These messages, or social content, each provide new opportunities for audiences to engagement with social brands. These messages, or social content, each provide new opportunities for audiences to engage with social brands. While quantity doesn’t equal quality, the Social Engagement Index shows that as brands increase contributors, groups, and activity their external engagement rises disproportionally.
  • Social is allowing companies to communicate directly with an “opted in” network. Companies have an average social network size of 1.8 million people, potentially reaching 47 million impressions over one quarter. Pair the increasing pace of audience acquisition with a high level of activity, and brands are increasing the chances of being seen in coveted news feeds.
  • Publishing is heavier on Twitter, engagement is higher on Facebook. Companies are publishing nearly three times as often on Twitter compared Facebook. Yet Facebook yields 9x the engagement for each message published. However, some brands found the opposite, highlighting that determining goals and audience preferences are mission critical to success.
  • Corporate social programs are multi-channel, requiring employees to participate in multiple roles. It’s no longer a debate on which one network to adopt. Companies are utilizing at least three social networks and assigning up to five levels of roles to employees to allow the right people to focus and engage their audience in the best way.











The report is chock full of data and insights. And while there’s more to be said for each specific area, a few key opportunities and takeaways emerged.

Engagement is the name of the game.
Social brands are vying for both placement in a news feed and validation that their audience is actually actively participating. These interactions – Comments, Retweets Likes ,Clicks, etc. – prove message resonance and relationship intent with a brand.

Orchestrating the outliers.
The truth is, a good percentage of brand activity is still being published natively or through disparate applications. Meaning: brands have an opportunity to “reign in” social accounts, content and users currently active outside a centralized system. Without this, aggregate reporting, orchestration and brand protection oversight are nearly impossible.

Technology is a friend.
How can a brand be efficient with 29 users, 51 social accounts and publishing around 50 messages a day? Similar to how Content Management and Marketing Automation Systems help coordinate, centralize and measure other communication efforts, the exponential growth of social business is emphasizing the need for technology like an SMMS.

Low hanging fruit, ripe for the picking.
Personalized approach and goals aside, tactical opportunities surfaced as opportunities for social brands.

  • Content. If engagement is the name of game, content is the secret weapon. Ensuring that messages appear in a user’s news feed so that they can engage depends on the fact that your content is compelling and resonates.
  • Contextual insights. Great moments in engagement are exciting. But realizing how to learn from these and optimize for future content is key. Findings ways to use labels and add context to social activity helps percolate up insights.
  • Segmentation and focus. Your audience wants more, quality activity. Getting the right people internally (your 29 users) sharing the most relevant and targeted activity with your external audience allows brand to stop marketing by megaphone.
  • Coordination. It may not be an attractive area of focus, but it’s crucial. 29 users across 51 accounts that need to respond to 2 million user interactions each quarter signals the need for concerted coordination and internal planning. What content does each user focus on? Who will respond to what? What is the escalation process?
  • Conversion. Not all engagement is equal. And interestingly enough, the data showed Clicks outperformed any other interaction type. Regardless of industry, brands have a keen opportunity to actually convert social users from a social site to a corporate website, landing page or even point of purchase.

More thoughts and insights to come about Spredfast Social Engagement Index. In the meantime, get a copy of the report, digest the findings and share your thoughts and feedback.