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  • Paul Fennemore 12:36 on May 8, 2012 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , family arches, marketing, , paul fennemore, , , , , , , , , viapoint, viapoituk   

    Don’t be corporate with negative posts on social networks 

    Don’t be corporate with negative posts on social networks

    ImageToday, I was asked by an oil company, how to prevent bloggers posting inappropriate comments on their social network pages. They are worried that they cannot control what is being said about their company, This is a major challenge for them that they did not know how to manage.

    The following is my response……………………………………………

    Your company is going on a journey with social media. The issue is that organisations don’t understand what that journey entails or where the destination is going to be.

    Therefore, grounded on extensive research I have done with two leading business schools, I have developed a social media adoption framework. The purpose of the framework is to give organisations a greater understanding of what they need to do to and how to do it.  Here is a link to the framework https://viapointuk.wordpress.com/2012/02/18/its-time-for-corporates-to-stop-playing-with-social-media/

    To your point about negative feedback.  In order for social networks to flourish they have to be open, transparent and honest. This means that you will get negative comments.

    If the comments are fair, then surely you need to know about them and act on them. When you deal with valid negative comments or even wrong perceptions, it’s important not to respond in an official corporate tone. You are dealing with individuals who need to be acknowledged and handled with respect and in the case of social networks, in a conversational manner.

    As social networkers operate in a real-time and interactive ecosystem you have to be resourced to operate in this environment. Delays in responding, if required, can cause further frustration and potentially lead to a social media bushfire of negative posts.

    If the posts are unfair the others members of the online communities are likely to shout them down without you having to do anything.  So when this happens, listen to see what happens. You may well find some advocates this way who you can go onto support and nurture.

    But don’t go down the route of firms like McDonalds who is building a network of fans by gratuitously rewarding them to post positive comments under a scheme called Family Arches. This misguided strategy will surely lead to yet and another backlash for McDonalds because it undermines all the tacit rules of social networks.

    However, there are ‘Trolls’. People who are intent on making unjustified negative comments and ‘social media stalking’ companies or individuals.  These people should not be responded to as you give them credence and great satisfaction by doing so. There are online laws for these people and if they are guilty of slander and harassment they can get legally managed.

    Companies who are adopting social media need to undergo a cultural change and transition to the new paradigm where the consumers, shareholders and employees have more influence over brand or service reputation.  Trying to suppress these vocies will cause a backlash. We have seen plenty of examples of this.  Key strategies are to define your ‘tone of voice, cultural change, set out an employee code of conduct and governance guidelines and even a ‘crisis management’ procedure.

    The issue is that most companies underestimate the resources required to manage their social media operations. It calls for resources including conversation and community management and moderation and good content generation.

    If you set off playing around with social media without a plan you are likely to run into trouble. Once a company has set up social network pages without a plan, skills and resources, the company is leaving itself open to a whole range of issues.   Therefore, formulate a strategy with the appropriate budget , resources and skills and importantly ensure that your board level directors understand it and are bought into it.

    Paul Fennemore is MD of Viapoint a leading social media strategy and services provider. Paul also conducts research with Henley Business School and lectures at Henley and Oxford Brookes University. He also found presenting and on panels at business conferences.



  • Paul Fennemore 13:31 on October 31, 2011 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: advertising, campaigns, marketing, ,   

    How is Social Media Changing Marketing Campaigns? 

    Paul Fennemore, Viapoint Managing Partner

    Having spoken to a lot of senior marketing executives of big brands in recent weeks such as BUPA, Barclaycard, 3M, Kodak, O2, Nokia, British Gas, Hiscox, INGDirect, Ford and many more, I found varying degrees of opinion as to the role that social media plays when it comes to marketing campaigns.

    They invest millions each year in high profile traditional campaigns and the issue is that each campaign raises awareness, but then this awareness quickly fades away. So, onto the next campaign – great for marketing agencies, not so great for the brand.

    One major financial services brand said that they might sponsor (for example) a very high profile golfing event. This creates a lot of noise around the time of the tournament, but then it all fades away. “We are left thinking, then what?”

    This type of campaign means spending a lot of money with marketing agencies to design and run them, only for the ongoing consumer engagement opportunity to vaporise. Having got the attention of golfers for a short period they then let them go and yet the golfers are still playing golf.

    Those few forward thinking brands who have decided to adopt social media or commerce strategically have got many things in common. One such commonality is that they got over the idea that social media is about short term marketing campaigns and display ads. Sure, social media can augment campaigns but the strategy is to use social media to perpetuate the attention that a marketing event has created, and to link and carry over from one campaign to the next.

    Having got the attention of their audiences through a marketing campaign, social commerce savvy organisations are asking for potential and existing consumers for their Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn etc user names. They are also directing them to the own online community. Then they perpetuate the awareness created by a campaign and start the process of ongoing engagement. In doing so they get a better return from their campaigns but more importantly,  ongoing online community engagement generates brand advocacy, increases word of mouth (or mouse), the chance to upsell and cross sell,  and improves customer services and  customer life time value.

    Yet still only a few of the last 30 brands I have interviewed are applying social media this way such as Ford, Kodak, O2 and Nokia. Others are starting to recognise the benefits and others are still thinking of campaigns, campaigns and then another campaign. Guess who’s going to win the battle of Attention and the Now Society?


    Paul Fennemore is the Managing Partner of Viapoint a leading social media services provider.


  • Paul Fennemore 11:38 on October 17, 2011 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: marketing, ,   

    Social Commerce: Signs of the Tipping Point 

    Paul Fennemore

    Having met with many major international organisations over the last few weeks about how they are adopting social media, I can see that they have recognised that they stand to gain so much more by making social media strategic.

    Up until recently, most firms have been going through the experimental phases of social media adoption, otherwise known as trial and error. However, many brands are setting to make social commerce strategic in 2012.

    Nokia are a good example. They have a very courageous plan called Share2Connect aimed at involving their whole organisation and business ecosystem in social commerce. Its intention is to de-silo their organisation, use their employees as an army of brand advocates, source ideas and innovation internally and externally thereby increasing time to market with leading products. Nokia is implementing social commerce systemically and systematically. Having seen their plan in detail it constitutes a major business process re-engineering program and you don’t get more strategic than that. I also happen to think it’s a brilliant plan.

    Nokia, and others early adopters, use the terms social business or social commerce, implying that social media doesn’t do what social Web 2.0 can do for business justice.  I agree. Those firms that recognise the social is not about display ads prefer these terms. My definition of social commerce is:

    “The use of social media formats, social media platforms and Web 2.0 technologies for commercial (or operational) purposes”.

    Of course social commerce involves marketing and communications, but it is so much more powerful than that. Social commerce is democratising the way organisations work. It’s changing organisational structures from large centralised hierarchies to flatter dispersed business models, increasing outsourcing and improving supply chain management as well as enabling co-creation and co-production.  It’s happening before our very eyes.

    Those firms who now recognise the potential of social commerce are girding their loins, taking a very deep corporate breath and going for it big time with big budgets in 2012. Way to go guys. However, one big issue for them is social commerce resources and skills, people who get social commerce, and these aren’t marketing and PR agencies.  Therefore, I foresee a new services industry emerging to help these companies along.

    Paul Fennemore is a Managing Partner at Viapoint, specialising in Social Commerce.
    e. paul.fennemore@viapoint.co.uk
    t. 0845 319707

  • Paul Fennemore 12:27 on August 30, 2011 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: marketing, , ,   

    Social Commerce is the Long Game 

    My Definition: “Social commerce is the practice of using social media for commercial purposes”.

    The short -term dichotomy

    When it comes to using social commerce correctly it takes time and patience to produce results.

    Social commerce is about building communities, identifying and generating e-Influencers and in turn increasing advocates. Having done so, sales will start to improve and more customers will be kept, but these strategies take time; you can’t make friends and influence people in matter of a few short months.

    So here’s the social commerce dichotomy. Many marketing directors are driven by a results horizon of three to six months – in other words they are under pressure to run campaigns that show returns in less than half a year.  The end result is that the agencies they use are not using social media networks to generate engagement and build communities; they are sticking to traditional marketing practices such as display ads and sporadic campaigns in hope of getting click-throughs.  The issue with this is that display ads are not effective when posted in people’s social spaces and social commerce engagement demands a continuous drip feed not short term hits.

    Overcoming the dichotomy with courage

    Firms such as Nokia, RIM, Motorola, Playstation and Xbox have proven that consumers who are involved with them via social media networks spend annually 20% to 140% more than a consumer who is not. So what are these companies doing to achieve these outstanding results?

    Amongst other best social commerce practices, they are formulating a social commerce strategy with clear objectives to be achieved over the minimum of a year.  They take a programatical approach whereby they use social media to and strengthen their longer term marketing objectives as well as augmenting marketing campaigns. Social commerce is far more effective when integrated with other Marcoms initiatives and not treated in isolation.

    They use surveillance tools such as EngageSciences, Cymfony or ExactTarget to identify consumers with the greatest social network ‘reach’ and classify them as a new market segment category and nurture a supportive relationship with them. They don’t spray them with display ads or offer them gratuitous discounts, but over-time reward them for an ‘earned contribution’.

    There is enough well-researched evidence to substantiate that this approach works, and that short-term traditional marketing tactics are ineffective unless you get lucky with a viral campaign such as the Diet Coke and Mentos, as demonstrated here.  Unfortunately these viral events don’t originate by design.

    Those marketing directors who set about understanding all the many facets of social commerce, particularly the social science and formulate a strategy, are successful at convincing their board to play the long game. They make their strategy inclusive, involving their staff and others who can contribute to positively enhance brand reputation and improve customer service.  A few firms such as O2, Phones4u, Kodak and Virgin Atlantic have embraced these winning ways.

    To find out more about my research into wining social commerce strategies please contact me paul.fennemore@viapoint.co.uk.

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