This was a great panel moderated by David Carrel, Senior VP Strategy and Analysis, Digitas. Panelists were Kay Madati, VP, Audience Experience & Engagement, CNN Worldwide, Bonin Bough, Global Social Media Director, PepsiCo, Kent Schoen, Product Marketing Manager, Facebook, Jeff Fleischman, Chief Digital Officer, TIAA-CREF, and Pete Blackshaw, Executive VP of Digital Strategic Services, Nielsen Online.
United breaks guitars. CNN misses breaking news. TIAA-CREF saves your retirement. Social networking can be a powerful tool—or quicksand if you handle it wrong.
When United was unresponsive to Dave Carroll’s broken guitar, he wrote a song and put it on Youtube. One week later it had 1 million hits. Now it’s at 6 million. One person can create a global phenomenon, good or bad, for your company. Watch out!
In February 2009 a plane crashed in Buffalo. It was on Twitter within 2 minutes, CNN affiliates carried it an hour and 54 minutes later.
Getting on Facebook and Twitter made TIAA-CREF 15 years younger.
Social media is a focus group on steroids, a platform that’s infinitely revealing of brand value. The strategy in the space has to be fluid. What are the influencers saying? How do we filter out the noise to drive messages that drive the bottom line. How do we plug those things into an existing channel? A limited time offer coming from Twitter needs lots of other channels to test customer interest. On the internet, we can see it happening in real time.
The conversation about all of our brands has been going on for a long time now. In the last political season, audiences told CNN they not only wanted to be informed, but involved. They also corrected CNN when it got facts wrong. Social media democratizes your brand.
Social media penetrates consumer feelings. There’s something around consumer emotion that finds unparalleled liftoff online. There are certain talk drivers that consistently drive the conversation. A lot of marketers are surprised by this. Twitter gives real insight into what makes consumers tick. Word of mouth is now visible, before we couldn’t see it. Pepsico found out problems with moms’ perceptions of G2 through social media.
Brands now belong to consumers more than to marketers—the job of the marketer is to fulfill the consumers’ needs. It’s not just about looking at conversations but identifying advocates and activating them.
What can we do to build advocacy? First and foremost, identify the advocates and analyze the conversations they’re having. Empower them. Digital tools require digital currency, so provide them. Pepsi does that with Twitter promotions, unique opportunities communicated via Twitter—including access to the Yankees tickertape parade on Friday,
The medium is the message, so how do you get your advocates? There has to be a certain degree of openness. TIAA-CREF had a lot of clients that lost a lot of money with others. TIAA-CREF outperformed the market, so there is a lot of trust. TIAA-CREF’s aid with social media to their clients generated huge benefits and credibility.
There’s lots of positive feedback, not just negative. Advocates are there to help you as well. The Toyota Prius Facebook page is an example. A lot of people wanted to use it as a forum on how to use their car. Toyota brought their community over and created a separate area for car owners as well as one for people interested in green issues. Share promotions, be authentic, create a good experience.
The extreme example of doing this well is the Zappos model. They are incredibly open from a participation perspective. Zappos does things we see in marketing as operationally impossible. That’s where they get advocates online. There is an opportunity to contribute everywhere on Zappos.com. Amazon bought Zappos because they didn’t know how to do customer service like Zappos.
You can’t manage this stuff, you can only participate and be relevant. Social media provides an opportunity to change a “badvocate” to an advocate. “Mea culpas” do work. Jeff Fleishman worked for Amex for a long time. Amex customer service’s job is to make sure the customer is happy. United was dismissive. Be transparent and hope for the best. Hands on is good, and humility is really important.
This data can inform every piece of the marketing mix. Sense and respond. Digital brings a new sense of agility. In the old days one couldn’t change things in the marketing mix. Now one can take early signals and optimize.
Consumers expect openness. You need to listen then respond fast. Iterate and optimize, discover and analyze your audience. Build connections. Consumer affairs needs to be at the center.
If you do it right, it’s very powerful. Mess up and you’ll be sorry.