Posts Tagged ‘marketing’

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.

Its getting harder to control the message

Clay Shirky did a great talk at  just prior to the election in Iran, have a watch here . Plus a follow up Q & A article on the connectivity of people on the web today. In his talk, he uses an example of the Sichuan earthquake in China in 2008. Twitter had real time updates and broke the story before the mainstream media. Amazingly,  he points out that, “the last quake they had prior to that, took 3 months for them to admit they had even had one!” China have filtered the web for over ten years but the great firewall wasn’t built to stop information being sent out of China to the rest of the world. If you have a message to get out – you can, wherever you are in the world.

A key change in the media landscape is summed up by Clay Shirky’s comment of “media is global, social and cheap”.  In a business context, this presents a huge opportunity for brands and companies but a potential disaster if they ignore it. They will have to accept that the customer and communities will influence what information is circulated. With a limited number of media channels, companies used to be able to tell their customers what their brand was and what it stood for, now the customers define what a brand is.

Individuals within groups are more connected than ever before and consumers are relying on their connections and consumer reviews to make key purchasing decisions.  Whatever type of experience they have or read about will be spread throughout their communities and companies need to get a handle on this so they can use it to their advantage – they really have no other choice.

I think there are 4 main components (but I have no doubt these will change!)

Digitally optimize their company online. This covers the corporate website and how that should look and feel, the purpose of the company blog (if necessary), social media profiles which can be maintained and add value.

Listening to the conversations online about their company, competition, industry. They can then work out how to position themselves, how to market to the customers, what the market sentiment is, measure the trends. There are more and more tools for this cropping up each day and I will list the ones I have been looking at in a future post.

Talking to their customers and in a way that will add value to the community and individual. This needs to involve the whole company from marketing, PR, customer service, research and internal communications.

Engaging the community and the individual. A repeatedly good user experience will eventually lead to advocacy. The lateral communication which is now possible within any web community means that a few, loyal customers can help spread your messages wider than traditional push campaigns ever could.

What’s in it for Barbara?

June 18, 2009 Leave a comment

There is far too much crap on TV. I am talking about the UK specifically but having recently got back from travelling around the world, I think it’s a global issue. However, Channel 4 has been running a series called “I’m running Sainsbury’s” on Tuesday nights which I have enjoyed.

Basic premise is – The economic climate has meant Sainsbury’s is involved in a customer turf war with the other major UK supermarkets as consumers tighten their belts. Sainsbury’s Chief Exec, Justin King, thinks the next big idea will come from the staff on the shop floor (good move, I like it), so asked all the staff for ideas and gave the best four a trial with a view to rolling it out across their stores.

I want to talk about episodes 2 and 3 as I think it demonstrates the difference between advertising and engagement – old marketing and branding techniques vs a new social approach.

Episode 2 – Barbara

Barbara is from Leeds. Her idea was to “take the store to the customer”. This translated to Barbara walking round the store with hot crossed buns (her target product) and harassing customers into buying them. People would be accosted in the snack isles by Barbara armed with her buns, and then ‘hard sold’ the merits of them. When that didn’t quite work, she would physically put them into the customers’ trolleys!

She easily nailed her target of selling £450 worth of hot crossed buns in a day and as a result took the plan to head office, who liked it and it will be implemented in 20 stores in the autumn.

The best moment for me was when she, having finished her presentation of the trial to the Sainsbury’s board, asked “…if this gets rolled out nationwide…the thing I want to know is…what’s in it for Barbara?” while rubbing her hands together! Gold. Apologies if the impression of Barbara is negative, it shouldn’t be, she was awesome and a very good salesman.

Episode 3 – Niall

Niall is from Enfield. His idea was to improve customer service by setting up a ‘surgery’ in the store where customers could give feedback (mostly negative) on the store as the customer service desk was always busy with refunds and exchanges. He was charged with solving 50% of the problems himself without bothering head office, over a week. Cue a stream of irate customers and a harassed Niall,  who hadn’t workout a process of dealing with the complaints (if only this process was done online). However, he was successful in his trial.

Sainsbury’s head office however,  were not as impressed as they were with Barbara. They saw the surgery as a cost (two employees were needed to help run the surgery) and something which would only be used when a store had a refurb or changed the layout. I am guessing that without sales figures or any tangible metric to measure success, Niall’s idea seemed less attractive and certainly less cost effective.

I disagree with Sainsbury’s on this and think it highlights a common problem with brands and how they operate, especially online.

On the one hand we have Barbara and the old media technique of shouting (literally – she used the store PA system) the message and interrupting the customer to get them aware of the product. Of course sales increased, people were terrified and the hard sell does work in certain environments on a short term basis. Sainsbury’s saw the numbers going up in a short space of time and assumed success. What I want to know is; how many customers will never shop in that Sainsbury’s again for fear of running into Barbara and being forced to buy baked goods against their will?

On the other, we have Niall with the new, social media approach of listening, talking and engaging the customers. These were people who were willing to take the time to actually come and vent their anger and frustration – these are the people that matter, these are the people brands should really give a shit about. When he solved an old lady’s “you can’t buy donuts individually” issue and then called her to give her the news, she was “over the moon” and “couldn’t believe the service”. I am betting she will always shop at Sainsbury’s for the rest of her life. What is the ROI of that?

Brands (and loads are already doing this so its not an original concept!) need to use the social media sites now available to them to be better at customer service. They need to create advocates of their brand, and in today’s online world that is done by interacting and putting the human touch back into service. The best example I can find is Zappos – – have a read; it’s genius.

People like dealing with people.  I don’t think that will ever change and the social media sites have made this type of relationship possible on a regular basis in real time. If brands do it right, it will take care of marketing, research, PR, and branding all in one.

The caveat to this is it requires a fundamental shift in how companies operate internally, how they budget for this new activity and how they measure it. It is also a long term game, not a short term, campaign driven one. The metrics have yet to be established to measure it effectively and the potential banana skins are everywhere…but they are crazy if they don’t jump on board as soon as possible.