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Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Big Brands Engage Customers In Conversation: MarketingProfs Digital Marketing Mixer

Big Brands Engage Customers In Conversation at MProfs Digital Marketing Mixer 2009Given my interest in practical marketing, I was particularly interested in Becky Carroll's, Michael Brito's and Tom Diederich's presentation titled How Big Brands Engage in Real Time Conversations With Consumers during the 2009 MarketingProfs Digital Marketing Mixer.

Big Brand Participants



Each participant brought a big brand perspective to the discussion:

+ Michael Brito discussed Intel and the Ajah Bhatt phenomenon
+ Becky Carroll used the example of Hansen Soda
+ Tom Diederich contrasted Symantec and Cadence where he built communities using two different approaches.

I found it fascinating.

Consumers Expect Social Media Presence



Michael started the session off by putting into context why a company would want to engage in conversation with consumers: because consumers now expect a social media presence.

From the 9/25/08 Cone Survey, "Americans are eager to deepen their brand relationships through social media." More specifically, 60% of Americans use social media. Of those:

+ 59% interact with companies via the social media
+ 93% believe a company should have a presence in social media
+ 85% believe a company should interact via social media

Add to that what Altimeter's Charlene Li discovered in her recent study: deep brand engagement correlates with financial performance.

Engaging and connecting with customers is critical stuff.

Intel's Engagement Experience



Intel discovered as much when it discovered [by listening on the social web] a need for Ajay Bhatt t-shirts -- as a result of Ajay Bhatt, who invented the USB, being an Intel Star on a TV ad. Intel responded by filling that need and created a memorable brand experience that has led to an Ajay Bhatt Facebook Fan page, 1,500+ fans on Twitter, user generated content and new level of loyalty and customer retention -- all by engaging with customers via social media.

Read through the Facebook Fan page content. It's really interesting.

Hansen Sodas Discovers Value of Ongoing Engagement



Becky Carroll, using the example of Hansen Sodas, addressed the evolution from social media campaign to ongoing relationship. Her first involvement with Hansen, a West Coast soda brand with a loyal following, involved a campaign to draw San Diego fans in with a photo contest. The problem was that, when the campaign ended, the conversation stopped.

You cannot let the interaction go silent if you choose to engage customers with social media. Social media builds trust and community; it increases engagement and loyalty and, if you go silent, you break the trust.

Based on those learnings, Hansen took a different approach to connecting with San Francisco. In addition to the photo contest, it engaged fans via Twitter [@hansensnatural] and Facebook as well as offline events. Tweets drew fans to the campaign Facebook page and then to the company fan page.

According to Becky, Hansen quickly saw an improvement in traffic and relationship building as a result of social media. Facebook was particularly effective to generating referrals and votes for the photo contests. Overall for San Francicso, Hansen saw an ROI of approximately 12 cents/reach.

Cadence Engages Customer Community on Home Page



Tom Diederich contrasted two experiences for us. That of starting from scratch with building the Symantec Technology Network community and having community be front and center for Cadence with it featured on the Cadence.com home page.

He asked customers what they wanted to read. He thought of the blog and forum as similar to a newspaper with distinct sections. He recruited internal experts, created weekly editorial meetings to keep blog posts on track, and invited super-users to become part of a special VIP program.

In terms of best practices:
+ Be a business owner who oversees budgets and sets direction.
+ Be a community manager who conducts planning and day-t0-day decion-making
+ A moderator who sets tone, enforces rules and helps users
+ Have a set of comprehensive guidelines.
+ Have well-defined procedures for when violations or other issues arise.
+ Offer high visibility/rank to potential users [think credibility points for super users]
+ Create a proper structure and atmosphere to engage users
+ Nurture a well-managed group of super-users
+ Make sure you have strong measurement processes focused on business value

Other Observations



Contests are not effective for sustaining relationships.
Along with having social media guidelines, also conduct digital training.
Be sure to include and integrate social media into your other marketing.
Definitely do research to understand how people search for you.

What are you reactions? And, what would you add?

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