9/23/2011 8:24 AM
By Anna Steely, Carousel30
Advertising Week DC was not just a success in itself, but I consider it a success for myself. This whole week provided me with knowledge and networking conveniently located all in one place. I learned so much and met so many great people. I cannot thank Ad Club DC enough.
The last day of Advertising Week I learned to listen. In the panel “The Future of Social…Where Will We Go Next?", moderated by Anthony Pappas of Pappas Group; and featuring Rich LaBarca, vice president of advertising products at Clearspring Technologies, Inc.; Eric Ludwig, senior director of online marketing at Rosetta Stone; and Brian Gluckman, director of public affairs at Glover Park Group.
In social media, your brand is in the clients’ hands. You don’t create the content but, instead, your audience builds the content. You are only there to amplify it and stimulate your audience. Being social is not a new thing. The new thing is having the option of 30 different outlets to connect with people and share your digital world. Social benefits all brands by giving them the power to listen to what people want. It’s an unfiltered way to understand and hear how people feel.
The greatest values of social media are the abilities to provide customer service, listen, create a voice for your brand and receive feedback in real time. Customer service can be easily managed (especially via Twitter), and most brands succeed if they are honest with their customers. It enables companies to listen to customers, whether it is complaints or positive feedback, it allows brands to further their forward thinking so that they’re always thinking about the next best thing and how to improve. Social media allows brands to be inviting, create interaction, and develop a voice that’s genuine and authentic. Brands want the truth from their customers; so they need to be a voice people feel like they can talk to. Another great value is that brands cannot only receive feedback from customers in real time, but they can also see the feedback their competitors are getting and how they’re responding.
When it boils down to it, social media is about engaging with your audience. It’s not about the numbers (how many followers or friends you have), but it’s about the quality of the activity and content. One tip is to never delete or respond derogatorily to a negative comment, but instead embrace it and take advantage of being able to listen to what your customers want and provide superb customer service in real time.
Something I think companies need to remember is to create social media profiles where it makes sense for your business by being savvy about where your brand will resonate the most. Don’t just create a Tumblr because it’s the next best thing, but do what’s right for your company. Also, focus on smaller ideas. This attracts people more readily and is not so broad as to where people get lost in the big idea you’re trying to launch.
I also sat in on a presentation by Eric Hellwig, editor of hbr.org of Harvard Business Review, called “Why Established Brands like HBR are Finding New Life Through Facebook and Twitter.”
Hellwig walked us through a time when HBR was trying to grow the brand and better position itself online, but in order to do so it had to rethink its whole approach to social media. In 2007, HRB scratched the surface of social media and simply launched a blog and a podcast. In 2008, it created a Twitter handle, and if you don’t think there is a specific strategy for managing Twitter, then think again. The Twitter feed began as editorially driven, but after switching to an auto feed, HBR realized its audience was solely interested in its content. HBR listened and responded to its audience’s preferences and learned what kind of content its audience valued. In 2009, it finally created a Facebook presence. By 2011, HBR held a firm presence on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and the HBR blog network. It then took it a step further and redesigned its website and magazine.
After growing in all sorts of different directions in just a few years, HBR learned that it must listen to what the audience wants and be able to roll out ideas based on feedback. Hellwig said success on social media comes from finding the value within communities. He also added that ROI is extremely important, and companies need to track analytics important to its business objectives; that is the best way to find what customers deem essential and what scope of impact you have on them.
Hellwig highlighted the basic lessons to takeaway from his presentation:
1. Start small. Establish a hypothesis; proceed with small steps and structure simple experiments.
2. Show real engagement in your efforts. Social media is not “brochureware;” it’s a place to engage and listen. So, listen actively and be transparent. In doing so, find your place in the conversation and establish a voice.
3. Be realistic in your expectations. Social media is not a panacea; it takes effort. You have to take the time to figure out what’s “there,” and this requires organizational flexibility “to go where the puck will be.”
These two panels wrapped up a wonderful and successful week full of learning and enlightenment. Overall, I learned how companies excel, why they excel, the future of social, digital and mobile media, and that listening is key when having a social presence.
Anna Steely is digital marketing associate at Carousel30