Analysis: 2011 Corporate Social Strategy Will Focus on Corporate Website Integration (Part 1/2)

Part 1: External Goals (You are here)
Part 2: Internal Goals

The Corporate Social Strategist Must Plan for 2011
In the near future, I’ll be publishing a research report about the corporate social strategist and their program. In our survey these decision makers within corporations over social media programs, we asked about their goals for 2011. If you want to receive this upcoming report, I will send it to you directly,just  complete this form.  These corporate social strategists (which I’ve segmented as companies with over 1000 employees) the respondents were asked to select three top objectives. We found that they will focus on the following:

Social Strategist Goals for 2011: Go to Market

Analysis: Expect Companies to Aggregate Discussions, Struggle with Authentic Discussions and Be Frustrated with Listening Tools. Despite their aspirations, I don’t expect them to achieve all of their goals due to cultural limitations, insufficient technology, here’s my take as an Industry Analyst:

  • Out of balance, the Corporate Social Strategist plans to integrate social media with the corporate website. Social Strategists have deployed social media in existing social networking channels like Facebook, Twitter, and beyond.   Yet there’s an inbalance as they’ve joined customer where they are, but have not tied it back to their overall corporate website.  This is due to a few reasons: primarily stemming from the reactionary nature of “we must have a Facebook strategy” and not thinking it through, and also the freedom to not rely on legacy IT and web publication systems.  To restore balance, strategists will start to infuse the most trusted conversations of prospects and customers back to the corporate website closer to the point of purchase or during customer support.  Expect that the first steps will be simple sharing tools, then aggregating discussions from branded communities to then Facebook features.  Savvy strategists will know the risks and benefits of each of the 8 Stages of Corporate Website Integration and Social Media framework.  Vendor set: Community platforms, Aggregators like Echo, and the existing integration protocols and embeds provided by the social networks themselves.
  • Companies will focus on engaging in dialog with customers –yet expect most will do it wrong. The second most important goal (43%) companies said they’ll focus on is developing an ongoing dialog with customers using social channels.  Yet, our previous research focused directly on how they’ve attempted to do this on their own Facebook Pages shows that while they’re updating content at a rapid pace, they lack true dialog, engagement, and enabling the customer to leave their own voice.  Our research found that when it comes to dialog brands scored a meager 3.1 out of a total 5 points, while they scored 5 out of 5 points in ‘being up to date’.  While strategists may be focused on dialog with customers, most are unable to give up legacy behaviors of direct marketing, advertising, and spewing content in all channels.  Brands must follow the 8 Success Criteria of Facebook page marketing –or risk an ineffective investment or worse yet, brand backlash.  Vendor Set: Much of these skills will need to come from internal changes and training –until this is done, no third party vendor or application can help.
  • While volume of customer voices increase, corporations bolster listening efforts –despite substandard tools The amount of content being created in social channels is increasing exponentially, this hockey stick growth from Twitter indicates that Tweets grew 1,400% last year to 35 million per day.  To match, companies are already investing in brand monitoring systems, with deal sizes ranging from 50-100k per year per major product set.  Yet, despite this investment, most of these tools lack maturity and do not return refined data sets, nor actionable information.  Despite the technology challenge, the problem is getting worse for brands as the amount of content created by customers is increasing at a rapid pace.  Vendor Set: Brand monitoring companies, while effective at counting number of mentions lack ability to accurate sentiment, provide actionable insights, or make suggestions on what to do.  As outlined in the Social Business Stack for 2011, expect an emergence of the social analytics vendors to out place the commodity set of brand monitoring.

In future blog posts, I’ll be discussing other aspects from our research, such as budgets, internal goals, staffing size, orginziational models over this coming next few weeks. Feel free to use this data in your slides and planning (this is Open Research), kindly just provide attribution to Altimeter Group.

I look forward to your thoughts below, do you think companies will achieve these goals?

44 Replies to “Analysis: 2011 Corporate Social Strategy Will Focus on Corporate Website Integration (Part 1/2)”

  1. Great observations. Current “listening” efforts are largely focused on analysis of transactional data. In fact, when I say we are in analytics business, people immediately assume that we “monitor” customer WoM on Tweeter and Facebook. These efforts produce a lot of data with relatively low actionable content. Contextual analysis is still on the opposite site of equation – it can produce very highly actionable knowledge of your customer, but verifiable source data is relatively scarce.

  2. Buyers are not seeing this, I hear it from them weekly. Brand monitoring software is ill scoped, or they aren't trained or it returns too much low quality data.

    Since the volume of content is only increasing, this problem is compounding.

    The brand monitoring firms MUST evolve and deliver actionable insights, as I'm seeing a new class of 'social analytics' firms starting to toe dip into the market.

  3. Totally agree with your analysis especially on the difficulty with measurement and authenticity. Companies are just learning that talk is cheap and meaningful dialoge much more challenging. When I look at the results though I see a continuum between Developing an Ongoing Dialog, Listening and Learning, and Collaborating with Customers and don't see a meaningful distinction. Until companies start connecting all those activities they are going to continue to participate in fractured dialoge and consumers are going to continue to experience the typical silo'd corporate experience. “oh we don't develop dialog, that's those guys, we listen and learn, and those guys collaborate” 🙂

  4. Thank you for providing this data. I am not all that surprised that most of these Social Strategists think like marketers and not business folks. So we should not all be surprised that a majority of mid to large companies are absolutely failing at this new social commerce world. Thinking fans, followers, web clicks, and likes will not expand your business or pay the bills.

    Now if they are going to use these tactics coupled with business objectives of increase market-share, reduce costs of customer service, find new customers that will actually click to action of buying and increase profits then it works. I am not all that surprised Social Commerce and Provide direct Customer Support are very low percentages…..the people heading up these social paths and strategies have never been held accountable for true business objectives, so why would pick those as actual focus areas.

    To reverse this trend these “Social Strategists” have put these mid and large companies on in the social arena higher ups need to start rounding out these teams with people in all areas of the business working together to collectively make this path work such as customer service reps, project managers, business analysts, technologists, merchandisers, supply chain, distribution, vendors, product managers, data architects, ux, and testers. All these resources have to be 100% dedicated to this group & being held accountable for measurable objectives!

    So if you are running a company using social look at the group of folks you have running it, they are all marketers or advertisers this won't be a very long term success path for you. Oh and if every silo in your company is responsible for their own social and these groups get together quarterly to connect…yeah that won't work either! 100% dedicated eclectic group enterprise focused cross pollinating vertical silo breaker professional team will do wonders for you!

  5. Jeremiah, you always come through with sobering analysis. It seems that brand – from the 43/16 ratio – still don't fundamentally understand that their brands live, breathe and grow outside of them. They can market the want all day long but they can't market the love that lasts.

    That rule applies online as well as offline.

  6. Jeremiah,
    The difference between a task orientated mindset and a relationship orientated mindset is chalk & cheese. The former obviously thinks going faster is the change being asked of them.

    As we all know when we've still got cold feet, being asked to relate is the toughest thing to do. I doubt it has even occurred that is what is being demanded of them in their haste.

    As I'm sure you remember from that last personal growth seminar you participated in, changing gear from the word of Doing to the world of Being is the very devil for some.

    By the way when shopping with ones better half, is it more prudent to be Doing Or Being?

  7. I find the table interesting. I will need to await the report before I can see if those were volunteered questions, or were free form ideas. The bottom half of things would be reasons to do the top half (generally speaking). Yet the reasons for doing say website integration or developing dialog with customers mean less unless there is a strategy, such as p2p support, product improvement etc.

  8. Great post, Jeremiah. I think you are spot on with the trend towards real social analytics. I actually wrote the other day that I predict (based on conversations we are having with brands & prospects in the market) that people willa ctually start to get fired in 2011 for reporting 'success' to their management in terms of: “mentions”, “likes”, and “followers”. The tie to commerce and real business metrics is a major wave that people will either be riding…or crushed by. By the way, can I ask whether the respondents were actually people with the title of “social strategist”, or were there a handful of titles that fell under? And, if the latter, what were they?

    Thx again for the insight!

    Sanjay Dholakia
    CEO, Crowd Factory

  9. Thanks for posting this Jeremiah, as more companies whose websites are their chief revenue source (not just a communication tool) demonstrate ROI for integrating their sites with the broader social web, the more all companies will apply the same level of rigor for their social efforts. It's great to see the objectives in the coming year are primarily important objectives for the business, which means that “social” is starting to mature.

    Liza Hausman
    VP, Marketing

  10. Your insights here for the Social Strategist are spot-on, Jeremiah. We™ve found the same phenomenon you observed in our own customer base specifically related to brand monitoring verses social analytics. Crimson Hexagon customers such as Four Seasons Resorts, Microsoft Bing, HP, Ogilvy and Weber Shandwick all came to us because their listening strategies with other brand monitoring vendors weren™t delivering the deeper insights and analysis they needed to inform meaningful business decisions such as determining marketing investments and product or service development directions, among others. We™re happy to see you highlighting the considerable differences between simple brand monitoring and true social analytics as the lines are often blurred. We welcome the comparison and invite customers to investigate the important distinctions between the two.

    Wayne St. Amand

  11. Great post,
    Thanks for the info.
    This would be very interesting in Mexico, a country with a huge penetration of Social Media, but with a huge ignorance by enterprises, most of them think that they just have to get a Twitter and Facebook account and that all.

    It would be very interesting which ones really understand the power of Social Media and get benefits from this.
    I really believe that companies have to integrate 3 parts of phenomenon, first Work the employees, second Technology and Third the Society. And with this theres is a huge opportunity to be successful in Social Media.


  12. This is fantastic data, Jeremiah, thanks for sharing here.

    I have to admit, it's comforting (well, at least a little bit) to know that since we've more or less had to focus on the “on-site” social pieces first — due to some unique national rules around marketing within our own footprint — at my company, we'll be a bit better prepared to engage those “fish” we'll be able to bring back to our “pond” when we're finally ready and allowed to fish where the fish are (Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter) as we finally execute our (patiently waiting) “external” social strategy.

  13. Taking this from the opposite approach, would it be fair to say that any new comers in the social media for enterprise space would offer the best value by enabling businesses to embed their services into their corporate websites.

  14. Social media as a listening device is only as effective as the processes in place. To achieve the big B2B goals (boost market share, marketing/sales ROI, and awareness, increase customer retention, raise the value of new deals, shorten the sales cycle, etc.) social media integration at any level is only part of a much bigger process.

    The points laid out here, and the road they go down, are spot on to emphasize that social media as a listening tool, while acting as a way to legitimize marketing spend through false accountability (followers, retweets, likes, etc.) may not prove effective for B2B organizations whom execute the process poorly. Heads will certainly roll if marketing goes down this path.

    A well-executed B2B social media strategy should, in most cases, provide analytics on a micro level – not a macro level. The thrill of having 1000 downloads of your newest white paper diminishes when you find out they all came from non-qualified prospects. 10,000 views of your blog post mean nothing unless you know who was looking and you are converting some percentage of those into leads. Measure, measure, measure.

    Social media has become a great way to build awareness with your target market, while keeping costs relatively low. But, for many B2B organizations getting the budget to do what you are talking about here, as you may know, is a major uphill battle. AND because social media isn't as measurable and is difficult to tie to ROI, it's almost impossible to get a team of people to get involved. Being the new, cutting edge communication tool is not enough to convince CFOs.

    That isn't to say it doesn't have a place besides building awareness. In typical sales cycles as the prospect moves deeper down the funnel, and you've engaged them with relevant content and conversation, the relationship gets more intimate. Integrating social media into the corporate website allows these new “superfans” to become your best advocates for brand credibility and awareness (WOM), as long as the conversation moves to your site. But for B2B organizations, most of which have revenue in the $50M-$500MM range, an outright investment in an embedded social media campaign is out of the question. Unless of course a social tool comes along that knocks cold calling, email nurturing, and lead collection forms off the table. These are the glue of a B2B company.

    I would expect B2B organizations in the next year to integrate basic social media tools (fb like, retweet, share, etc.), develop out blogs, invest heavily in marketing automation and CRM such as Marketo, Eloqua or SalesForce, and invest more in thought leadership by guest blogging, tweeting, partnering with industry analysts and participating on LinkedIn. As you move deeper down the funnel, the cost of each interaction goes way up. Social media costs have to stay low to make them economically viable for B2B organizations.

    But, in the end it is still a matter of tying in ROI with the medium.

    Great article!

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