RaganCisco: What’s Next? Social Media Trends for Corporations with Jeremiah Owyang


Jeremiah Owyang led off the second day of the Ragan Cisco Social Media Summit with a talk entitled What’s Next? Social Media Trends for Corporations. I’ve seen Jeremiah speak before and I’m always impressed with the clarity of his vision. Here are my notes from his talk this morning.

Jeremiah also made his slides available on his blog.

(**UPDATE** Jeremiah DM'd me on Twitter after I posted this and suggested I embed his presentation to keep traffic on this blog. Very nice gesture and much appreciated. His presentation is embedded below.)

He started with some data. “You’re going to see some very typical things: up and to the right.” In other words, social media usage by consumers, the amount of time they spend on social media sites and the volume of tweets per day are all increasing.

If your company only has one or two social media professionals, you’re at a disadvantage if you have dozens of competitors using social media.

“You cannot scale. The future of social media for business is, ‘It cannot scale.’”

There are two possible paths. You can try to scale one-to-one and hire lots of community managers, but you’ll never be able to have enough people. It will get more complex and be more difficult to manage over time.

In the other path, you focus on efficiencies, using “gears and levers” to scale.

There are three ways for companies to scale:

  1. Harness the rings of influence


  1. Develop peer to peer systems


  1. Invest in social CRM

Rings of influence include prospects, customers, employees and brands. The power is in the outer rings, because prospects trust customers more than they do the brand. They trust employees more than they do the brand.

The brand circle includes corporate communications, PR, marcom, etc. You may have a corporate newsroom, but your corporate press releases may not influence your customers.

According to the Edelman Trust Barometer survey this year, only 26 percent of US consumers say that company information coming from a CEO is credible. But executives still have an important role to play, Jeremiah said. They need to have a continual discussion, not just jump in when there’s a crisis.

Jeremiah’s slides have best practices for each of the different “rings,” so I won’t bother retyping the content here.

Employees must be empowered to participate in social media, because, for one thing, you can’t stop them. They’ll use mobile devices or post from home. Jeremiah recommends creating a group of “sanctioned employees” to communicate about the company. You don’t need to stop the other employees from participating, but you give the sanctioned employees training and resources to make them more effective social media communicators.

Intel runs a program where employees can become certified as social media communicators.

Best Buy created a content management system to enable employees to participate as part of the Twelpforce Twitter customer service account. They’re using their entire employee force. It’s a good example of how you can scale.

Customers are a vital part of the equation, obviously. You can have customers who love you, are indifferent to you and those who hate you. The real value comes in turning your customers into advocates.

Walmart had a rough start in social media but hit on a success with their Elevenmoms program, where mom bloggers publish on the Walmart corporate site. It’s grown to include more than 11 bloggers, and now dads as well.

If you want to be relevant and be trusted, you need to allow the real conversations to happen, even if they’re off brand. Walmart found, for instance, that some of the bloggers were talking as much about Target as they were about Walmart, but they didn’t try to stop it.

Microsoft recognizes their most active advocates with a “Most Valuable Professional” designation.

Jeremiah showed Google SideWiki, a browser plugin that allows anyone to leave comments on your website.

Starbucks worked with Foursquare to create a Starbucks check-in badge. Brands are paying for badges in Foursquare and allowing their customers to get recognized for patronizing their stores.

The next level is prospects. They’re either aware of your brand, or they aren’t. If you want to reach prospects, you don’t monitor what they’re saying about your brand, you monitor what their pain points are, and when they’re mad at your competitors.

American Express has created a “workstyle” community where prospects can share information.

Jeremiah recommends developing peer to peer systems, including Q&A tools. There was a website a few years ago called Dear Adobe, created by Adobe customers, where they aired their gripes. We can all assume this will crop up for our brands at some point, so the best thing brands can do is get ahead of it, and create their own communities.

Start adding ratings, rankings and reputation features to your site now. It will increase loyalty and help you identify your advocates and see which of your products are most popular and with what types of consumers.

Social CRM is another trend for the future. It’s become a very hot topic. CRM is a decades-old, billion-dollar industry. Jeremiah predicts social CRM may become more popular in companies than social media because corporations already understand CRM and have budgets for it.

Your customer may be having multiple experiences across different social channels. How can they possibly have a holistic experience? Social CRM is one of the technology solutions that will help you do that.

The promise of social CRM is simple: you will have a holistic view of your customer and all of the things they’ve allowed you to see on the social web. You’ll be able to anticipate what they want. If you know what they like, what they buy and where they are going, you’ll have the opportunity to up sell, cross sell and invite them to bring their friends.

You can provide real-time, contextual customer experiences. It may annoy the social media purists who think social is all about communication, but again, those core ideas don’t scale.

Start with the Five Ms: monitoring, mapping, management, middleware and measurement. The report and webinar on the Five Ms are available the blog.

Summary and Next Steps (full version in Jeremiah’s slides)

  1. Employees cannot scale for social business


  1. Leverage all the voices in your “rings”


  1. Use the crowd to self support, not just in customer service but in marketing


  1. Start investing now in social CRM

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1 Comment

  1. Meera Venkataramani on

    Nice summary Dave - I totally agree that If you want to be relevant and be trusted, you need to allow the real conversations to happen even if the conversation is not about your product. Thx for including Jeremiah's slides and his presentation. You are right - he impresses us with his clarity and vision.

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