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Mix your wine with social media

November 19, 2009 Leave a comment

I spotted an article in the FT a couple of  days ago about the success Majestic Wine have been having in the UK. You can read  the article here and here. This is coming at  a time when First Quench, owners of  Threshers, a former leader in the UK booze  market have gone into administration .

No doubt, the fact that all the major  supermarkets are now stocking the full  range of alcohol has been the main driver in  First Quench’s downfall, but it was  interesting to  hear Steve Lewis (CEO at  Majestic)  champion social media as the key  driver to  their 24.6% increase in online sales.

“We’ve unleashed the potential of the twenty-somethings in our business, improving the blog written by staff and selling parcels of wine which are too small to send to stores as online exclusives to create a sense of urgency. They sell out within hours.”

We all know the success story that is Gary Vaynerchuk and how he took his family owned wine business from (a pretty healthy) $5m per year operation to a $50m beast and in the process made himself a star of the social media world.

So, I think we can assume that social media and wine mix very well!

Report from Monitoring Social Media 09

November 18, 2009 2 comments

Yesterday I was at the inaugural Monitoring Social Media 09 conference. We had representatives from leading brands, agencies, monitoring vendors, bloggers, researchers…and probably a few social media gurus (although I didn’t actually meet any with the title on their name badge, which was a shame!), all coming together to share knowledge and experience on social media monitoring and measurement – one of the current buzz topics in the tech/media space.

Luke Brynley-Jones (CEO of Our Social Times), did a great job in putting the conference together and managed to attract a good range of speakers and panellists. The hall was almost full up until around 4.45pm, which is pretty good going and it was good to see a mix of nationalities and a decent gender ratio. One complaint from a few delegates (via the twitter stream) was that there was only one woman on the panels. This was a little strange especially as, in my opinion, some of the best presentations were from Katy Howell, (Immediate Future), Anne Longley (Mediaedge) and Celia Pronto, (STA travel).

I am going to regurgitate some of my notes below and try and pick out some of the highlights.

Morning Session

Alan Moore kicked things off with a good one on how social data is changing the game. He touched on the movement towards a VRM model, something I have recently been reading about and am hoping to get more involved in.

He explained how different business models need to evolve based on networked economics. Towards the end he talked about how are a t the back end of the industrial revolution,  which dehumanised us and made us ‘mass consumers’ and targets of mass media – social technology gives us our individuality back. Nice!

Next up was Neville Hobson (Head of Social Media for WeissComm Group) who co-chaired the event, he spoke about some of the trends he has spotted regarding monitoring for some major brands and what is turning them on such as:-

–          Achieve more for less cost

–          Increased accountability

–          Direct Access to customers

He also made the point that people search for content, not web pages.

Antony Mayfield of icrossing spoke about the importance of activity in networks and not in individual conversations and the need to combine data analysis with storytellers/insights. I agree.

The Girls show us how it’s done

After the break, Ann Longley covered off the business case for social media monitoring. Lots of good insights here to use as ammo next time you are in the boardroom pitching, such as:-

–          Earned media is now more influential than paid

–          Monitor to identify problems. Examples used were kryptonite locks,  and Dominos

–          To identify fans, advocates – examples included Coca-Cola

–          Brand audits – historical as well as future

Anne also touched on that we are beginning to see integration with CRM systems and this will be a big trend in 2010.

Katy Howell put in one of the more engaging presentations while explaining some of the problems with social media adoption in big organisations. Some key takeaways from this were:

–          Introduce social media via stealth!

–          Monitoring is just Step 1. It is a good way to get C-level buy in, but it is essential to overlay other metrics to get a full picture of brand health, business intelligence etc

–          Create a corporate policy for social media. This is so important and a service which many organisations and agencies are neglecting at the moment.

Next Celia Pronto gave the best case study of the day, detailing how STA Travel has been trailblazing. It was useful for everyone to see the theory and buzzwords (don’t broadcast, try to connect, it takes time etc etc) actually put into practice. STA have done a great job with STA travelbuzz, recruiting customers to become reporters and producing some quality content.

The results – Sentiment, up, intent to purchase/recommend, up.

Afternoon Session

After lunch Giles Palmer, (CEO of Brandwatch), took the stage complete with his movember offering on his upper lip! He, animatedly, explained the numerous problems with extracting the meaningful data from the social web. I don’t envy him, and some of the key points were:-

–          Getting the right data is a pain in the arse!

–          Many vendors will buy in the data from aggregators (boardreader, backtype etc)

–          The amount of filtering needed to actively monitor a generic brand name (he used Shell as the eg) is huge.

Giles also thought that the price for the data will increase as access becomes less ie Twitter and Facebook will charge more for access in the future. This was the only point I disagreed with as I believe one of the big boys (Google or Microsoft) will provide the data much, much cheaper once they acquire one of the incumbent vendors.

Brad Little ( Nielsen) was up next discussing Free vs Paid tools.

I enjoyed this one as Brad encouraged everyone to ask the difficult questions of clients before jumping in feet first with tactics and tools. For example:

–          Do they really want to know what is going on, collaborate, be human?

–          What are their objectives? Coverage, save time, give control?

Other key takeaways were:-

–          advocacy will become a key metric

–          good analysis needs big resources in people

–          combine monitoring  with other research methodologies – buzz isn’t enough

–          You need active client participation for success – (Yes and double Yes!)

–          Monitoring – Research – Strategy  – these are different disciplines

A good panel discussion followed on, what was wrong with social media monitoring , including Asi Sharabi, who’s blog post on the same topic, inspired the conference. Some of the main issues discussed were:-

–          60% of UGC is spam. Spam detection needs to be better

–          Sentiment analysis is currently very hit and miss without humans

–          Price can’t be based on volume – has to be a license

–          Workflow & collaboration is a key feature

–          Much of the blame can be placed at procurements door. Clients buying solutions aren’t asking the right questions.

Robin Grant (We Are Social) gave a good case study on the work his agency have done with Skype. I especially liked his Netvibes dashboard which was built in house. My only question here would be how effective that would be for a generic brand name like Shell?

Last up and a late replacement for Chris Thomas was Marshall Sponder (Webmetricsguru) talking about the future and some of his issues with the monitoring vendors such as, they all differ in terms of data output for the same keywords and there is a need for meme clustering for the client (questions, customer service, sales leads etc).

The final panel focussed on the future with Matthaus Krzykowski throwing in that he has seen some industry specific monitoring tools which have up to 90% sentiment accuracy. Plus, more debate on if and when we will start to see some agreed measurement metrics which we can all abide with.

All in all, a success. It will be interesting to see how far we have come at MSM10

More news, pics, links etc from the event can be found here.