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  • Paul Fennemore 12:36 on May 8, 2012 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , family arches, , , paul fennemore, , , , , , , social networks, , 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@viapoint.co.uk

    @paulfennemore

     
  • Paul Fennemore 12:36 on March 16, 2012 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , ecommece, , , , social networks   

    Are social media networks killing the practice of market segmentation? 

    Most wouldn’t disagree with the view that since the 1950’s, when the practice of market segmentation began, it has been the cornerstone of any marketing strategy.  Define your market segments accurately then the follow on activities of targeting and positioning are much more effective.

    Have online social media networks and their ability to engage with individuals interactively and in real-time made the practice of categorising people into groups redundant? The answer has to be a resounding no! But it is changing.

    Changing emphasis

    Consumers are considerably more socially mobile and transient than when demographic segmentation was first being adopted by marketers.  Also, as result of the web and social media, consumers are much more informed and influenced (think Tripadviser), they have access to greater choice and their smartphones are doing all of this for them wherever they are.

    Therefore, the basic strategy of demographic segmentation and pigeon holing people into presumed and fixed characteristics is less relevant today. Grouping people into segments by geography, age, gender, profession and income and assuming they are never changing is not a great way to relate to your online audiences.

    Therefore, the emphasis is towards using the previously less used technique of psychographic segmentation.  Simply put, psychographics is about classifying people by their attitude and behaviour.  Using monitoring tools it’s possible to gain deep insight into users ‘sentiment’ towards a product or service whether it is positive, negative or neutral. You can also track consumers’ interests, opinions and interests. This form of social network psychographic segmentation is becoming known as ‘socialgraphics’.

    Go where your segments are hanging out

    Using social networks, brands are able to find where their traditional market segments are ‘hanging out’ online and engage with them.  These are self segmenting groups brought together through a common interest such as hobbies, sport, health, jobs etc. These are very fertile forums for brands to promote themselves to their exact target segments that are conveniently congregating in one place.

    These communities of interest are intentionally being fostered by social network platforms who can charge brands to participate in them and include Google+ Circles and LinkedIn Groups. But there are scores of other online communities that brands can a join in with.

    However, when entering social networks brands are participating in people’s social spaces and they have to earn the right to be there. These are places where users go to be informed, educated, supported and entertained, not to be sold too.  Therefore, the golden rule of social media marketing is not to overtly advertise in the traditional sense. All my research has found that when organisations do this their fans and followers leave in droves.

    Pull- in your market segments

    Some socially savvy organisations are using a strategy that I have termed ‘segmentation pull’.  This involves setting up your own hosted online community and ‘pulling’ in your market segments.  For example, one of Viapoint’s team master-minded Open Forum, an online community for SME’s hosted by American Express.  The community serves itself as well as Amex offering support and guidance to all facets of running a small business. Rather than advertising to the SME segmen,t Amex has ‘pulled’ or drawn in this segment.

    Britmums is another example of segmentation pull. Britmums host an on online community of mothers and has fostered a community of 3000 bloggers. Each blogger gets on average 4000 page views per month creating an aggregated audience of 12 million. Mums are an ideal segment for many brands.

    Influencing the influencers

    About 10% of social network users generate 90% of the content. These are referred to as ‘Creators’ or ‘e-Influencers’. In fact they are bloggers. These people are highly influential and could be classified as a new market segment.

    Influencers are often brand advocates and should be discovered and then very carefully nurtured in order to help exert their influence. But don’t ask them to transparently talk about your product or gratuitously give them something for nothing, you will alienate them. Give them something new and really interesting to talk about or review, that’s what motivates them. This technique is known as ‘Social Influence Marketing’.

    There are also ‘detractors’ or ‘trolls’. These are also influencers but they will vehemently give brands a bad press and their words are contagious like no other.  There are plenty of examples where they have damaged brand reputation, so they need to be treated with kid gloves. No corporate or official responses to their posts.

    Creators and detractors are arguably new market segments, albeit ones that come and go. But then again that’s how people behave and that’s what marketers can now tap into, behaviour.

    Conversation marketing – the panacea?

    Unless you only have handful of customers, one to one marketing is not practical. Yes marketers need to and can influence their few influencers, but it is not practical to try and have individual online conversations with your whole customer base as some self professed social media gurus will preach.

    However, conversation marketing is still possible if you go back to principle of segmenting your customers.  You can have group conversations with communities of interest once you have found where they are hanging out or pulled them into your own online community.

    In conclusion

    Segmentation strategies are here to stay and in fact becoming increasingly important so ensure your social media marketing team is fully trained on the concept and working hand-in-hand with your customer insight or market segmentation teams.

    Paul Fennemore is Managing Director of Viapoint. Viapoint is the leading Social Media Consultancy, Services and Training Provider.  Paul backs up what he preaches by grounding it on objective and extensive research. Paul is a researcher with Henley Business School and is often called to lecture on Digital Marketing, Social Media and eBusiness. Paul holds an MSc (Dist) in Digital Marketing

     
  • Paul Fennemore 18:44 on February 5, 2012 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , , , , social networks,   

    McDonalds: Corporates Still with the Wrong Social Media Mind Set 

    The week that Macdonald’s makes another massive social media gaff should bring home to CEOs and their CMOs that social media is not for the inexperienced http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2090862/McDstories-McDonalds-Twitter-promotion-backfires-users-share-fast-food-horror-stories.html.

    Putting social media in the hands of a well intention junior campaign manager is like a CMO putting an automatic weapon in the hands of an angry 5 year old. And yet despite the very public mishaps of MP’s, Skittles, Habitat, United Airlines, Nestle, Toyota and countless more many corporates are still lost as to how use social media effectively.  Yet paradoxically there is now enough experience and evidence to know what social media strategies work and don’t work.

    The main issue is that companies and many agencies still believe that social media is about marketing campaigns and running them in the same way they always have done.  In fact social media marketing and communications is so fundamentally different a whole new approach is required

    A change of mind set is needed.  Consider social media or social commerce as a strategic marketing and communications channel that has the power to make organisations more agile, be much more in tune with their employees their market and their supply chain. Social media has the potential to transform businesses.

    Astra Zeneca announced drastic cut backs, making thousands redundant because they had new drugs coming to market soon enough. Yet those Pharmaceutical companies are using social media to crowdsource R&D and innovation, such as Proctor & Gamble, are keeping their share price up by having reduced R&D cycle times by 40% through using an online network of 80,000 independent innovators.

    CEO’s and CMO’s need to make social media strategic and stop delegating it to marketing campaign managers and campaign managers need to understand that social media is not about campaigns. Social media marketing is its most effective when joining up traditional marketing campaigns and perpetuating ongoing consumer engagement thereby building brand loyalty and increased word of mouth.  Tactical marketing campaigns and social media do not mix as McDonald’s has yet again demonstrated.

    Paul Fennemore

    Managing Director Viapoint

    http://www.viapoint.co.uk

     
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