Social CRM: Take the Leap of Faith

In recent months, several publications, analysts and bloggers have highlighted the importance of Social Media and the need for allocating resources for Social CRM initiatives. I have published several blog posts on the subject and some of them are listed below:

But inspite of all the attention Social CRM has received in mainstream and social media, many companies are reluctant to invest in Social media initiatives and programs. This is confirmed by findings of a recent study by Burson-Marsteller titled Global Social Media Checkup. It was found that only 20% of those surveyed used all the four Social Media channels, namely Twitter, Facebook, Youtube and Blogs to engage their stakeholders. Social Media involvement of these companies can best be described as “minimal” (see following slideshare presentation for more). And if this is the level of involvement of companies on Fortune’s Global 100 list given all their resources and marketing budget, one can imagine the Social Media involvement of lesser known companies and those with smaller marketing spend!

It is high time for marketers to take a leap of faith and invest in Social CRM initiatives in order to engage customers through Social Media channels, because customers and potential customers are on social media channels discussing about products and brands – whether the marketer is represented in the discussion or not.

Moreover, according to a recent “The CMO Survey” from Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business and the American Marketing Association (AMA), marketers will devote nearly one-fifth of their marketing budgets to social media in the next five years (for more, see this link). Those marketers who take this leap of faith and move first in this direction will not only have first mover’s advantage, but will define standards, procedures and rules of the game.

NOW is the time for marketers to start Social Media initiatives for customer engagement and emerge as winners, rest will be laggards.

Dear CMOs, do you want to be a winner or laggard? The choice is yours!

Perfect Tango: Social Media and Smart Phones

The next step in evolution of mobile phone from “simple” telephones to mobile multi-media communication hub is social networking access via mobile browser and apps. This is going to be one of the big stories over the next couple of years that will fuel exponential increase in Social Networking Sites and their user base. It is estimated that currently more than 650 million people worldwide, or 13.4% of mobile subscribers, use the Web via a mobile device at least once a month (see this link). This number is all set to skyrocket as inexpensive smart phones continue to flood the market.

In a recent study by comScore on social networking access via mobile browser, it was found that 30.8 percent of smartphone users accessed social networking sites via their mobile browser, up 8.3 points from 22.5 percent one year ago. Access to Facebook via mobile browser grew 112 percent in the past year, while Twitter experienced a 347-percent jump. This validates the fact that Social Networking is the most popular and fastest-growing behaviors on mobile Web (see this link).

This is a global phenomenon, not limited to “developed” markets in North America or Europe. According to a recent global survey by The Nielsen Company covering 15,000 consumers across 15 countries, two-thirds of mobile users around the globe are interested in “smart” services that would feed them information based on location and social settings (see this link).

Given this rapid expansion of Social Networking, Mobile Broadband Internet and Smart Phone technology, one really wonders what can we expect to see over the next few years?

To answer some of our questions, here is an excellent slideshare presentation on Mobile Trends for the next ten years compiled by Rudy De Waele , Co-Founder, dotopen.com

Please enjoy this presentation and do leave a comment on what you think will drive adoption of Social Networking technology through smart phones?

Social Games market to touch $15 Billion in 5 years!

Charlie Rose recently interviewed Mark Pincus – Founder and CEO,  Zynga. For some one who is new to the field of Social Games, this interview offers a quick introduction to the subject and games like Mafia Wars and Cafe World.

I like what Mark said about Social Networks – “If you are on Social Network, you are in the game of building Social Capital” – very true!

(See this video and for complete transcript of this interview, pls see this link).

What does it take to succeed in Social Games?

Social Games are all the rage these days. In a recent survey of consumers in the US and UK who play games on social networking platforms such as Facebook, it was found that more than 24% of respondents play social games regularly, indicating a total social gamer population of approximately 100 million in US and UK alone.

And contrary to prevailing stereotypes, the average social gamer is a 43-year old woman – yes, you read that right 43-year old woman! (for more on survey results, see this link)

So with a fast growing affluent user base, what does it take to succeed in Social Games? Here is an excellent Panel Discussion on what issues leaders in this space grapple with on a daily basis?

Panelists are:

Facebook and Social Games

Excellent talk by Prof. Jesse Schell of Carnegie Mellon University on Psychology of Social Gaming and what drives player behavior in this area. Thanks to Social Networking, online Gaming (or Social Gaming as many call it) will grow exponentially in the next 3-5 years. Facebook games are a great example of things to come. Please listen to this enlightening talk by Prof. Jesse Schell:

Slides used by Prof. Jesse Schell:

Social Media Vision 2020

Excellent interview of Chris Brogan by David Thomas of SAS Institute on biggest change Social Media will bring to the way we do business.

Social Media according to Chris Brogan:

  • Lot of light as compared to heat
  • Puts human face back on Business
  • Big companies have a chance to feel small and human again
  • Individuals have an opportunity to compete with bigger organizations like never before

Social Media turning Marketers into Media Companies?

As more marketers use Social Media channels for engaging their customers and prospects, it is becoming obvious that they will have to take on additional responsibility for not only creation of content, but also facilitate sharing or distribution of content through Social Media channels such as YouTube. Some notable examples of this approach are:

This raises an important question: Should Marketers behave like Media companies when it comes to Social Media? If yes, what additional skills will be required by those in the marketing department for this new task. And what is the role of an “agency” in this new “set-up”?

In my opinion, marketers should take on additional responsibility of content creation with the help of agencies and professionals/SMEs in the area. Marketers should also provide necessary tools and platform for their customers to discuss about their brands, share content and exchange ideas. Agencies should use their expertise to help marketers connect with customers.

Listen to what Jonah Bloom, former Editor at Advertising Age, has to say on this subject:

What to you think? Should Marketers behave like Media companies when it comes to Social Media? Please share your views and opinion:

Really? Social Media Better Done “In house”

Results of CMO Club Weekly Poll published on BW blog made some interesting reading. Question that was asked was “Which of your groups is best equipped to help you with your social media efforts today?”  114 CMOs responded:

  • 65.6% In House
  • 15.6% Interactive Agency
  • 9.4% PR Firm
  • 9.4% Social Media Agency
  • 0% Creative/Ad Agency

Why majority of respondents preferred In House Agency rather than entrusting the work to outside firms?

Answer lies in the fact that Social Media is still a very new subject and unexplored medium – constantly evolving. More importantly, Social Media/Interactive/PR/Creative/Ad agencies have not done a good job of defining their offerings and articulating them well to clients. And in absence of any well defined service offerings from agencies, clients prefer to do Social Media in-house.

What Can agencies do to remedy the situation?

  • Come out with well defined service offerings
  • Articulate their service offerings well to clients
  • Offer a result oriented approach to induce clients to try out Social Media
  • Hire best available talent who understand Social Media well and how to leverage it for Brand Promotion

Agencies will have to take a lead on this and guide their clients. Early birds will get the best returns! What do you think?

Cisco and Pepsico CEOs on Social Networking

Watch this video for what three visionary CEOs have to say about Social Networking:

  • John Chambers, Chairman and CEO, Cisco: “Social Networking is transforming companies. It is the future of Business Productivity, Health Care, Education and Entertainment.”
  • Indra Nooyi, CEO, Pepsico: “Global company with global brands and reputation can use it as a force for good.”
  • Jeffrey Joerres, President and CEO, Manpower: “When it comes to Social Networking, it is a major trend towards what will be a very standard everyday stuff.”

This very clearly highlights the fact that Social Media and Social Networking are not a fad, but for real, are here to stay and will become mainstream in near future. Social Business is not just another way of doing business, it is THE way business will be conducted.

I strongly recommend that all senior executives (and especially the CMOs) start taking Social Media initiatives seriously, and lead from the front when it comes to use of Social Media, as survival and growth of their business rests on how effectively they leverage emerging tech tools.

Social Networking has far reaching implications for the marketing department and I recommend that CMOs setup a Social Media Task force that will advise them on how to quickly adapt and integrate their marketing operations into emerging Social Networking tools and applications. Sooner marketing department(s) adopt and start using Social Networking for engaging their customers better for their brand(s), else performance of their business will suffer.

Should Companies restrict Employees’ Social Media use?

It is not uncommon to see companies restricting (or even worse, banning) use of Social Networking sites by their employees. I don’t think that this is a step in the right direction. If companies can trust their employees to run business, can’t they be trusted when it comes to using Social Media in an acceptable way?

IBM is a great example of how companies should handle employees’ use of Social Media. IBM has approximately 400,000 employees spread through out the world, still it allows them to use Social Media without much restrictions. Casey Hibbard has written an excellent blog post on how IBM uses Social Media to spur employee innovation (see this link).

As per Casey’s post, IBM lets employees communicate with each other and the public over Social Media channels without intervention. This in spite of the fact that IBM has:

  • A few thousand “IBMers” on Twitter
  • Thousands of external bloggers,
  • Almost 200,000 on LinkedIn
  • 17,000 internal blogs
  • 100,000 employees using internal blogs
  • 53,000 members on SocialBlue (like Facebook for employees)
  • As many as 500,000 participants in company crowd-sourcing “jams”
  • 50,000 in alum networks on Facebook and LinkedIn

Watch this CNBC interview with Adam Christensen, IBM’s Social Media Communications Manager and John Abell, New York Bureau chief, Wired.com. According to Adam, IBM’s job is to help employees go out and have conversations that they want to, so that they can lead the business they are involved in. Not allowing employees to use Social Media is “short sighted” and companies will be “missing an opportunity”. (watch this video for more)

To succeed in this new age, it is important to embrace and adopt changes brought about by Social Media. And for that to happen, it is critical that organizations have proper guidelines for Social Media use by their employees. Employees should be allowed to use Social Media freely within those guidelines. (for IBM’s guidelines, see this link and for an excellent database of Social Media usage policies of 116 organizations, see this link).

I want to end this post by sharing a thought provoking video on how the workforce is changing in Social Media Age. Please watch this video and let me know if companies should restrict employees’ Social Media use.

  • About Dr. Harish Kotadia


    That's me with photo gear,  taking snaps of Texas wild flowers. #texas

  • Dr. Harish Kotadia

  • Dr. Harish Kotadia is an industry recognized thought leader on Big Data and Analytics with more than fifteen years' experience as a hands-on Big Data, Analytics and BI Program/Project Manager implementing Enterprise Solutions for Fortune 500 clients in the US.

    He also has five years' work experience as a Research Executive in Marketing Research and Consulting industry working for leading MR organizations such as Gallup.

    Dr. Harish Kotadia's educational qualification includes Ph.D. in Marketing Management. Subject of his doctoral thesis was Customer Satisfaction and it involved building a statistical model for predicting satisfaction of clients with services of their ad agency.

    His educational qualification also includes M.B.A. and B.B.A. with specialization in Marketing Management and Diploma in Computer Applications.

    Dr. Harish Kotadia currently works as Principal Data Scientist and Client Partner, Big Data and Analytics at a Global Consulting Company. Views and opinion expressed in this blog are his own.



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