This year's Web 2.0 Expo, which was held 3/31-4/4/09 in San Francisco, was buzzing with people from around the world who shared web (and increasingly, mobile) best practices, though there definitely were not as many participants as in 2008, nor were they quite so ebullient. In fact, this year the theme was "doing more with less", and the stress on best practices to use social media towards measurable business purposes. However, good social media, even for business purpose, requires humanity, conversation, sharing, and building of social capital, according to experienced practitioners such as Intuit Partner Platform marketing lead Tara Hunt.
There were a lot of advanced tips on social design and creating a robust social media presence. Clearly, with companies such as Salesforce.com integrating Facebook and Twitter, the attitude is that companies, whether B2C or B2B, are now expected to have a social media presence, or else felt to be ignoring the conversation.
In the Designing Social Interfaces session, Christian Crumlish of Yahoo! and Erin Malone of TangibleUX, authors of Designing Social Interfaces soon to be published by O'Reilly Media and Yahoo Press, presented the do's and don'ts of social interface design. In designing an online community, remember to:
Why Social Media Marketing Fails - And How to Fix It was an interesting session led by Peter Kim (Dachis Corporation), Charlene Li (Altimeter Group), and Jeremiah Owyang (Forrester Research). First they started on the question of how to get a corporate culture to adapt to social media. Li said to get big gun backing, and Peter Kim added that the chief digital officer is now becoming the chief social officer. Owyang said that there was a step before executive buy-in - that often lower-level evangelists win people over, and eventually they have to convince executives. It's pretty rare, in Owyang's opinion, that execs initiate social media first.
Peter Kim added that it's a fallacy to think young people automatically know what to do with social media -- Li recommended tapping into people who actually know how to run a business. Some companies pair executives with younger people. Li said the fallacy of the "chief social officer" is that one person can take care of this - that fosters a "it's not my problem, it's someone else's responsibility" mentality. According to Li, it's everyone's responsibility. She noted that at Schwab, they don't talk about social media strategy, they talk about customer care strategy.
Li said that instead of asking: "How do I make campaigns work?", the problem is doing campaigns, not building relationships. Owyang also stressed the importance of a long-term view in terms of social network marketing. Li noted that a company should ask itself what kind of relationship it has today with its customers, and what kind it wants in the future. She commented that many companies have Facebook pages but you never hear from the company - their page looks like a press release rather than being a vehicle for conversations.
Li said it's really about a change in the way to do business - "It's really a question of whether we should have marketing at all. This is something more collaborative."
How do you measure social media and ROI? Owyang stressed that measurement should go beyond "friends, fans, and followers", be based on where the company is and where it's going, and stress business objectives. Li asked for what purpose is the measurement - appropriate budgets, effectiveness of this channel compared to others, etc. How do you measure PR, reach, effectiveness, and satisfaction? How can you measure social media if you don't measure in other areas of marketing? What does the number mean in the context of your organization? Kim said, "Measurement is the biggest fail. Tie goals back to P&L. Li noted, "If you're not attaching social media to a specific business goal, it will get cut."
Li added: "Is failure going to be acceptable or not? If you are engaged in social media, you will fail. Can your culture adapt to this?"
Kim said: "I think the expectations are too high for social media. I think today it doesn't matter. Will it matter? Yes, a whole lot. It will take a lot of change in business for it to matter. It's like the beginning of e-commerce."
Li said: "Why do you want to have a conversation? Why does it add value? If it doesn't, don't waste people's goodwill."
"Dell had the biggest social media failure and came out of it. They learned from their failure to become a best case," said Owyang.
Li notes that Walmart is doing social media very well. They have been active in this space since 2006 and they have kept trying. The Hub, their social network, was miserable. Their Facebook pages were taken over by protesters. Then they recently came out with Check Out, their buyer's blog, which has been very successful - they learned from their failure.
Owyang added that Kinaxis, which makes supply chain software, is a good example of a company in the B2B space using social media well - they created their own version of TechMeme for supply chain management. Even in the B2B world, there are many opportunities for creative social media that helps create customer awareness and cultivate loyalty.