A shift is occurring in the relative importance to marketers of Social Media and Super Bowl advertising. Of course, the 2010 Super Bowl isn't the first we've seen of the marriage of Social Media and Super Bowl ads. Last year, Doritos struck gold with a UGC (User-Generated Content) ad produced by two unemployed brothers, and the brand is back this year with more UGC ads competing for even greater prize money.
There is a lot of buzz about Social Media ROI, and since the topic is complex, there will continue to be buzz about it for years to come. Brands want to know that Social Media works, what works, and how to invest their money.
Much of the results generated by Social Media can be measured quantitatively and qualitatively: transactions, decreased customer service costs, increased awareness, improved sentiment, etc. But some of the advantages from Social Media cannot be measured, because much like investments in insurance and tires, the benefits come from risk avoidance.
I've had the opportunity over the past year to work with a lot of banks and credit unions, insurance providers, and investment management firms. Marketers at financial services companies face a number of challenges other marketers don't -- most importantly, confusing and often ill-defined government regulations -- but yet I've been impressed with the social media efforts I've seen from many companies in this category.
When we embarked on this project I wasn't sure if it would be a complete failure or a roaring success. Still, the optimist in me suggested it might work. The timing of launching the survey, just before the Christmas Holiday period was risky. However I'm pleased to say the results so far have been better than expected.
Any PM who has worked with customers extensively learns how to deal with the hard cases. There are different species of difficult customers, such those who exaggerate every problem to the level of a showstopper, or the ones who think there's only answer to every implementation question.
A hot topic of debate among customer management and business process thought leaders right now is ascertaining the business value of "social CRM." Social technologies are proliferating rapidly and three-quarters of US online adults now use social technologies in some form. Cutting through all the hype, my clients are challenged to make hard decisions about the level of investment they should make in Social Computing technologies like blogs, wikis, forums, customer feedback tools, social networking sites, and customer community platforms. And they want to know how these new capabilities should be, and can be, integrated with their transactional CRM systems.
We have just published a summary of our research and define the seven steps to success for strategizing, selecting, and deploying social CRM solutions:
Initiate social CRM experiments immediately. Define a near-term opportunity to apply social CRM ideas to a customer-facing challenge at your company. Build some practical experience that will break out of your of old mindsets. Refine your strategies later as new insights emerge. For example, 10 years ago, Electronic Arts recognized that could not cope with the anticipated tenfold increase in customer support inquiries as the result of launching large-scale online multiplayer games. No commercial solutions were available to help at the time, so Electronic Arts began experimenting and developing its own solutions. Trying new ideas and discarding the old, EA actively worked to gain hands-on experience by actively participating in the virtual worlds of its social game players.
Getting dismally sick over the holidays had an upside. An incredibly geeky upside, the sort only someone doing research about social media could care about, perhaps. But it was a good occasion to test a hypothesis.