Much ink has been spilled over United Airlines' latest public incident and social media's role in rapidly spreading video of a passenger being dragged off an airplane. Today's consumers are more polarized than ever and increasingly expressing their opinions and showing their own values in the way they spend their money. Brands worry about making missteps on social media and falling out of favor, prompting them to ask: "How can my brand respond to a social crisis?" In reality, the question they should be asking is: "How can my brand plan for any social crisis so that when it hits, our response is clear and automatic?"
Navigating today's social environment requires returning to crisis management basics. Brands with established and rehearsed crisis management plans — no matter the channel — will rise above the fray. In our latest Forrester report, "Social Crisis Management: Get Back To Basics," we discuss social crisis management 101:
Let your brand pillars be your guide. Your brand's values should be the foundation for how your brand behaves in all situations, including on social media. Sure, brand values can be malleable but they should be strong enough to prepare you for worst-case scenarios.
Document your tolerance for brand risk. Companies must also have a stated and widely-known policy for brand risk, such as a willingness to take chances with brand reputation or a threshold for negative publicity.
Social media is human. It’s embedded in local cultural context of consumer needs, affinities, and behaviors. But to serve consumers, multinational companies need effective social intelligence to keep a finger on the global pulse of brands and simultaneously inspire local-relevant campaign content and interaction. So how do you start on this journey? My colleague Cinny Little and I have recently published a report that provides practical guidance on executing on this tender global / local balance. A summary of our take:
You need a Center of Excellence (COE). A center of excellence’s mandate is to drive common approaches and processes that enable generating insights from the data and assessing results across brands and regions. But a center of excellence isn’t a one-time a project that you can check off your company’s digital transition list. It’s a long-term commitment to establishing purpose, people, processes, and platforms that enable data- and insights-sharing across departments. Our research show that the success factors for building an effective COE for social intelligence require you to:
The logistics of business travel can be nightmarish, especially when productivity is most crucial, which is business as usual for today’s business-to-business (B2B) sellers. On the surface, million-mile platinum status is evidence of rock-star sellers who are willing to jump on a plane at a moment’s notice to build new and enrich existing relationships on behalf of their firm. But what about when prospects and customers don’t want to see you?
Whether it’s increasing workloads, the ability to be more efficient by participating in remote meetings, or the fact that buyers prefer to self-educate in the early phases of the evaluation process, today’s B2B buyers are less inclined to take sales meetings. Many don’t want to engage directly with sellers until they are further along with their own self-discovery. And when they do, expectations are high for sellers to show up in an advisory capacity and provide consultative expertise.
How then can you be present as a recognized expert with prospects and customers who want to spend less time with you? Mary Shea’s newest report, “Add Social Selling To Your B2B Marketing Repertoire,” explains how B2B sellers who add social selling activities to their daily routine can do this — and much more.
44% of marketers say they haven't been able to show the impact of social at all and another 36% say they have a good sense of the qualitative, but not quantitative, impact of social initiatives. Marketers feel stuck with engagement metrics that don't tell them anything about the business impact of their social programs. And, some fall victim to thinking there is an industry standard set of KPIs that will reveal their social impact in relation to other brands.
Business impact: Show social programs' deepest value. The hardest type of social measurement is also the most important. This is the quantitative view of your social efforts that matter most to executives. Start by measuring attribution to assign a proportion of revenue to social programs or measuring social's impact on brand health.
Are your marketing and sales teams caught in that endless loop of finger pointing? B2B sellers who complain about lead quality/quantity and marketers who criticize sellers for poor follow up? After years of acknowledging their issues with each other, many B2B marketing and sales teams continue to be at odds. Just “google” marketing and sales relationships and see what you find. I did and I surfaced 98 million results! Titles such as: “The Rocky Road Between Sales and Marketing” and “How to Survive a Soured Sales and Marketing Relationship” show the dissonance and drama still very much in play.
Five years into the age of the customer and the modern B2B buyer has high expectations. They’re more knowledgeable, independent and self-directed than ever. They no longer rely on your sales people for product, pricing and other information. And they don’t want to be told what they already know. As I explore in our recently published report, B2B Buyers Mandate A New Charter For Marketing And Sales, the empowered B2B buyer is neither concerned with how your organization is structured and who’s responsible for the content on your website, nor are they interested in talking to a sales rep simply because they downloaded a white paper. Your buyers want contextual interactions with both human and digital assets across a holistic but non-linear journey. And, by in large, they want their experiences with sales people to be high value or frictionless. Think of a 2 or 5-star hotel experience – each has its merits - but 3 and 4-star hotels often disappoint.
To understand how open customers are to receiving messages from brands in social media, the question has to shift from “How social are our customers?” to “How social are our customers in their path to purchase?”
Given the amount of time consumers spend on social networks, marketers intuitively know they need to be present on social media but many still struggle to pin point exactly:
Why they need a social presence - or rather, how they can be relevant on social media,
How much resources to invest in social media,
And where to invest these resources.
Forrester has developed the Social Technographics Framework to help marketers address exactly these questions. Using Forrester data to analyze the social behavior of various consumer groups and their inclination to use social touchpoints in their interactions with brands, the framework helps marketers determine:
How important social media should be to their marketing plan
When their audiences rely on social touchpoints in their customer journey
What social touchpoints their audiences use, and to what ends
The holidays have a way of bringing people together in more ways than one – and every holiday season I’m reminded of just how universal the power of human emotion is. Regardless of lifestyle, background, and world view, people everywhere are truly emotional beings, moved by fundamental feelings of joy and sadness, hope and fear, love and loss. And anyone who has observed frantic shoppers careening through store aisles or the unbearable anticipation of children on Christmas morning can see that, at this time of year, emotions are at their peak.
Advertisers know holiday shopper emotions better than anyone; they have perfected the art of tugging at heart strings or prompting tears to spur a purchase. But as consumers wear their hearts on their sleeve, retailers broadly must be in tune with – and responsive to – customer sentiments. For example, when passionate shoppers turn to social channels, retailers mustn’t dismiss their cheering or venting. In fact, Forrester’s Customer Experience Index (CX Index™) data shows that consumers often experience their most positive brand interactions on social media – and remember them more favorably than engagements on websites, over email, through phone conversations, and even in person:
The industry was outraged. But who’s really at fault here? Tina Moffett and I break it down like Judge Judy.
For The Defense: Facebook
How long did it take TV to standardize measurement? The social media industry is young and a fast-changing work in progress. Lest we forget, Facebook is only 12 years old and started as a platform for people; metrics was the furthest thing from their minds. But, it’s now the biggest social network serving people, brands, and publishers and is constantly having to prove value to all three. We would be surprised if Facebook was not screwing up along the way. To build their platform, Facebook will continue to mess up and correct, mess up and correct. Instead, let's focus on how Facebook's metrics woes will impact their relationship with marketers (and agencies):
Social marketing often feels like running a race against an unlikely competitor: your own customers. In the social media world, consumer behaviors and technical functionality evolve so quickly that the minute you feel good about your social presence and perhaps have even pulled neck-and-neck with your customers’ social media behaviors, they surge ahead and leave you in the dust. What’s your technique to keep up with this superior runner in this course-shifting race? Do you have a methodical training approach before the big race or do you improvise after you push off from the starting block? Most runners will tell you that it’s preferable to be in the former camp and not the latter.
The pace of social technology change and the volume of short shelf-life content make social networks a real-time media channel. Yet, marketers have trouble managing social content at the speed that it demands. Unlike traditional media channels (TV, print, and even digital banner ads), “social media” and “we’ve got months to do this” are rarely uttered in the same breath. As part of our new Social Marketing Playbook launch, the Processes chapter gives marketers a structure for managing social content in real-time and striking a balance between inbound inquiries and outbound messaging. Marketers ultimately need:
Marketers face continuous uphill battles when it comes to social media. Whether it’s an emerging social network, an algorithm change within an existing social network, or the technology that enables social across an enterprise, change is constant. And these changes don’t even account for behavioral changes among our prospects and customers. The situation will only become more challenging, so we urge marketers to embrace the POST process when developing marketing initiatives and to figure out where social can bolster your initiatives.
POST — which stands for people, objectives, strategy, and technology — is a tried-and-true process to create relevant marketing initiatives. Don’t get lost in the chaos of constant changes in social media. Samantha Ngo and I have written a new report to reinforce the benefits of POST; it highlights how to think through the process and shares details and examples to help you develop social tactics that further your marketing efforts. This report will help you:
Understand your customer’s view of social media before developing your marketing initiative
Define your marketing objective and its impact
Determine the best tactics to tie your audience and objective together
Find the right social technology to help you implement your cohesive strategy