Posts tagged "Brands"

Conversation, not Content, is King

Michelle Gautrin, Senior Social Media Strategist, Digital Marketing, APAC, Adobe Systems @mgautrin

Image courtesy of photoraidz at

Last week I attended a Social Media Branding event in Singapore where brands like StarHub, SingTel, Domino’s Pizza, Lenovo, Marina Bay Sands and more, talked about the ways they’re using social media to elevate their brand and reach customers. One concept really stuck with me and was the underlining theme of everyone’s presentation: Conversation is King.

Social has given brands an opportunity to listen and connect with their customers on a deeper level. Rather than focusing on pushing out content, brands need to shift, and start listening to the conversations happening about them and join the discussion with value add input. We need to start humanizing our brands. No more should we focus on B2B or B2C but consider that all brands should engage on the basis of H2H (human to human).

The way I see it, there are 3 steps to a successful social media brand strategy. First, begin by and tapping into conversations happening about your brand; second, build on those conversations; and finally, convert those conversations into conversions.

Social must really be an ART: Authentic, Responsive, & Timely. Brands that master this art will start to see the true value social can bring to their business, and one such brand is Lenovo. Nazia Hayat from Lenovo talked about the importance of humanizing your brand and treating followers as equals. A lot of the time brands like to thump their fist on their chest, shouting and demanding “we are the leaders, follow us”. What they forget is that, the initial few followers are the true leaders and are key to nurturing and gathering more followers – Derek Sivers explains it beautifully in his Ted Talk, “New followers emulate followers not the leader”. That’s why it is so critical for brands to be part of conversation; not just about their brands but about topics that are related to their brands as well.

This brings me to my second point – the importance of community marketing. Conversations about your brand are taking place whether you like it or not, so why not facilitate it? It’s actually scary how many people are now more likely to make a purchase decision based on a complete stranger’s review! Daren Choo, AVP of Social CRM at Starhub shared that 75% of Singaporeans read people’s comments online before making a purchase decision. Instead of focusing on building followers, brands should focus on building a community; a community of avid fans, advocates and influencers that will help to protect and promote your brand.

Finally, once those conversations have been created, identified, and executed, turn them into conversions. Domino’s Think Oven campaign is a great example of how an innovative social campaign can engage consumers and drive sales. Rose Lam, Marketing Manager, APAC, of Domino’s Pizza explains how Think Oven acts as a virtual suggestion box, allowing the company to engage their audience, listen to their customers, interact with them, and drive sales all at the same time. Reaching out and involving your customers, offers a personal touch that will allow them to relate to your brand on a human level and proves to them that you care.

So remember to listen and join in on the conversation. Make sure you also humanize your brand by creating a brand voice that is authentic. And lastly, don’t be afraid to take risks – as I said before, conversations are happening about your brand whether you like it or not, so why not join in! You could even turn those complainers into advocates just by giving them a little extra loving.

Customer service on Social: Time to get your act together

Umang Bedi, Managing Director – Adobe, South Asia LinkedIn

Mr Umang Bedi, Adobe Systems India (319)With more than a billion people now using social media worldwide, it’s not a question of whether brands will offer dedicated customer service options on social but a question of when. Even if brands choose not to join in the conversation on social, their customers will still be talking about them – the good, the bad and the ugly.

Recent research revealed that over 56% of customer tweets to companies are being ignored. Nearly all of the top brands (95%) are active on Twitter, yet only 23% have a dedicated customer service handle. The Realtime Report, recently conducted a study testing the response rates, prioritization and timing of 14 leading consumer brands and had startling results where only 14% of the tweets were answered!

Social media gives brands valuable customer insights and the chance to gain new insight into what the customer really needs and wants.  Brands should leverage this and realize the importance of customer service especially at a time where customer loyalty is volatile as consumers can jump on the internet, see negative comments and reviews, and find another company to fill their needs. It is not enough just to have a presence on social. Engage with your customers and the best way to do this is through excellent customer service.

Some tips on interacting with customers on social:

Listen, listen, listen

The best way to understand your customers is to go onto social platforms and search for conversations around your brand. Make sure to expand your keyword search, entering not only your brand name but products as well as words associated with your brand. Monitoring all the various social platforms manually is tedious at best and impossible at scale, so investing in a good social listening tool is necessary. Adobe Social allows you to monitor all your social communities in one aggregated platform.  Through its very cool (and extremely handy) Twitter and Facebook moderation handle, you can easily do a keyword search to discover who is talking about you,  how many followers that person has and can respond directly to the person or escalate it to someone else in the team to respond, such as a product specialist.

Take Action!

It is not enough just to identify where and what your customers are saying on social, you need to take action if necessary.  If you come across a customer tweet or Facebook comment, especially if it’s directly on your brand page, do not ignore it! There is nothing a customer hates more than being ignored. The number one rule for successful social media customer service is action. At least acknowledge you have heard their concerns and either address it directly or escalate it to the appropriate person.

Don’t just respond, do it swiftly.

News travel fast on social, so brands need to respond quickly, especially with complaints. Acting swiftly can stop the fires from spreading, and reinforce a brand’s commitment to customer care.  However, this is not an excuse for panic reactions – there should be set guideline responses, and staff need to be trained to escalate potential issues to the right person immediately if a quick response is needed.

We’d love your comments and feedback.  Do you have any tips for brands and their online customer service?

LinkedIn CMO Series in Bangalore – Social Media & Digital Marketing

Srihari Palangala, Country Marketing Manager, Adobe IndiaLinkedIn

I was invited to attend a CMO roundtable hosted by LinkedIn and IAMAI in Bangalore. The discussion table had a great mix of senior marketing leaders from the B2B as well as B2C space, from a varied set of industries. My thanks to the hosts (Jaggi and Dhiman) for an evening of interesting discussions and learning.

The event was lively and everyone was keenly talking about and sharing their experiences in digital and social media marketing. I synthesized three key points, and think these will only continue to grow in importance in the future:

1. Linking digital marketing to the sales cycle: The strength of digital is in analytics , with the opportunity to optimize an engagement through real-time positioning of products/services/bundles to the prospect based on context/relevance. The challenges in the digital marketing era are to stay connected with the prospect (multichannel touch points) with personalized and relevant targeting during the consideration/purchase cycle progression. Remember those internal ROI conversations? They just got a lot more interesting!

2. Content & Engagement Strategy: The strength of digital is how it facilitates open and multiple-way engagement with communities. In this context, the opportunity with digital is the option for brands to be part of the right conversations; and the challenge is to monetize the engagements.

3. Digital is increasingly the Central Pillar in the Marketing Mix: Marketing budgets are under strain across the board; all spend is expected to work harder and produce better results.  As marketers we need to be ready to launch and sustain brands online.

Let’s get geared up and ready for the exciting times ahead!

Social Business Maturing in South Asia

Will Bosma, APAC Solution Consulting Director, Adobe Australia – LinkedIn, @wbosma

I have been fortunate this week to spend time with a number a larger enterprises in Singapore and Malaysia discussing their current social business situation and their priority needs going into 2013. These meeting were across a number of industries but there were some strong consistencies across all of them.

They have been on a remarkably similar journey. By and large, they all start with an ad hoc approach to social media listening, engagement and moderation. This ‘experimental’ stage see’s social initiatives disconnected and operating in a silo from all other channels. The measures are nearly always the low level ones that focus on ‘how many’. The fixation is on getting more friends, fans and followers.

The history was remarkably similar – at this stage they are using free tools to try to manage the processes – and they are using a lot of them and in a very disconnected way. And as these enterprises are pan regional, in some cases global; the presence grows rapidly and they have a lot of different pages and accounts all over the place. The engagement is almost completely reactive. Its at about this time they begin to discover that social media is far from ‘free’ and that to be effective they need to do something very much more integrated and strategic.

Pretty much during the past few years they have been evolving into social brands. Marketing seems to own all social initiatives and the focus is on brand / reputation management, marketing optimization –  and the KPI’s now turn more to engagement – comments, retweets, customer posts, ‘people talking about this’ metrics are now at the fore. Now, given that Asia has some of the most engaged audiences on the planet  (see figure below) you would expect that engagement rates are high compared to other parts of the world. And its amazing how pretty much every major brand has a sport or famous sporting team connection that features as an important part of the content and engagement strategy. Popular picks are football (soccer) teams from the English leagues; Formula 1 teams and some events like the recent Olympics.

Some of the companies I spoke to had over 1.5M fans on their Facebook pages and hundreds of thousands of twitter followers.

There is a strong emphasis on outbound social campaigns but with so many channels and presences they are struggling to maintain brand consistency; struggling to keep the engaging content flowing and increasingly concerned about governance.  And today, they have evolved from using only free tools to having a real mix of point solutions. Perhaps some freeware for engagement; a paid tool for social listening; a different one for publishing; and perhaps another for moderation.

And whilst social no longer sits in a complete silo; nor is it completely integrated. I saw examples of specific channels set up for customer service which were separated from the outbound marketing channels but if a customer lodges their complaint in another channel it gets ignored. You can literally see customer delight in one channel and customer anger in another

I would argue that many of these enterprises have reached the operational stage of social business, with a focus on marketing. It’s a more embedded part of the business and there is a lot of focus on campaign integration and even some thought on how to utilize social internally.  But they are struggling to get to the next level.  There is even some frustration within businesses that social has gone too far from a marketing perspective. That investments are being made in increasing levels of social campaigns without analysis of results and comparison to other marketing channels. This was pretty surprising to me.

And as the conversation then moved to ‘where now’ there is again a remarkable consistency in what these organisations have as their priorities for social in the coming year. They want order; they want consistency and they want measurable results – in short they want to move to the next level of social business.

Universally, they want to take social out of its remaining silo and make it an integral part of the business – at least from a marketing perspective. They want to centralize some of the governance around key processes to promote consistency of message and brand as well as ensure compliance with increasing regulation. But they didn’t necessarily want to reduce the number of sites they have.

Largely they see the value in having local presence and encouraging the regional / local business to build its own community. This can be difficult to know how far to go – some banks want to have a Facebook page per branch for example whilst others felt a country based approach is enough.

What they did want though was integrated workflows and permissions where they could create a framework which gave them flexibility to decide what could be decentralized and what should be centrally approved.

But over and above all else, they want to be able to close the loop and measure the results of their social efforts. This is really heartening as this truly indicates to me that social business is maturing and organisations are understanding that ROI can and should be measured on social initiatives – after all, that is a primary reason for all forms of digital marketing – its measurable! And of course, there is mounting pressure from the C suite to demonstrate this return as they all know by now that social media is far from free.

A little while ago I wrote a blog piece on the 10 Commandments of Social Business which a few people connected with.  It seems to me that large enterprises in South Asia are doing well on most of those but as yet have not recognized the needs for a social business strategy, not a social media strategy. But they are working hard now on making social measurable.

Is your brand smashable?

Imogen Riley, Digital Marketing Senior Manager, Adobe APAC – LinkedIn @IERiley

My team and I recently attended Martin Lindstrom’s symposium, Brandwashed. Martin had my attention from the get go – his ability to engage the audience for an entire day was incredible! He takes you on a journey into consumer psychology and challenges you to think outside the box.  Here are the key takeaways I took from the event and hopefully give you some actionable insight on ways to boost your brand.

1)      The brain acts irrationally – Martin begins by explaining how we act irrationally and are ruled by emotions. Did you know 15% of what we do daily is rational compared to 85% which is irrational? Therefore businesses cannot assume their consumers behavior without extensive research.

2)      Smashables – Would your consumers still recognize your brand if your logo was removed? Martin’s concept of ‘the smashable brand’ was a real eye opener. He explained how businesses have to own every aspect of their brand. By this he means a whole range of related elements, sound, shape, colour, a word, an icon and so on. For example, Coca Cola can still be recognised if you remove its logo just by the shape of the coke bottle. Apple is associated with the apple icon, the ‘i’ naming series and many more instances.  Google owns the word ‘search’ – when a consumer goes to search something online, they almost always go to Google (so much so that people say ‘google it’ instead of ‘search it’). So, is your brand smashable?

3)      Word – of – mouth – Never underestimate the power of word-of-mouth marketing. It can be your most useful or detrimental tool – use it wisely and effectively. “It takes a mere 5% of ‘informed individuals’ to influence the direction of a crowd of up to two hundred people” according to Professor Jens Krause from Leeds University. Identify your key influencers: who are your 5%?

4)      Generation-to-generation Branding: Did you know that 65% of our adult brand choices come from our parents?  If this is the case should we then relook at our target group? People tend to remember their past in a positive way and associate certain sound, smells and taste with it – clever brands can leverage this to tap into their consumers’ nostalgia for the past.

5)      Gamification – We are entering the era of games. Brands are capitalising on the concept of games and using it to drive consumer engagement. How can your brand incorporate a gaming aspect?

6)      Contextual Branding & Customisation – in the future everything will be customised. In this highly competitive environment, brands need to offer a customised experience to customers, either through website content, promotions, product selection or so on. Brands must understand their customers and their social interactions in order to engage them. Technologies such as Adobe Social allow brands to have full visibility into their customers’ social interactions and behaviours and respond to them appropriately.

7)      Have a mission in mind– Clarify your mission to your customer and employees. A mission will create a vision which in return will generate passion. Think about what you are selling, what the benefit is and what the added value is. This will then clarify and simplify your message. For example, Adobe’s mission is: To transform the world through digital experience’. What is your statement?

Get into the minds of your consumers! Go out, interact with them, conduct research, and understand their needs. Talk to them on social media and listen to what they are saying. The more you understand your consumers and how they view your brand, the better you become in responding to their needs and the more you will grow. Feel free to leave your comments and questions.