The Evolution of Social Media at Adobe

Maria PoveromoA lot of brands are still trying to solve for social media organization, activation and ROI. We thought we’d share a Q&A we had with Maria Poveromo, who has led and evolved our own social media efforts, to share some successes and takeaways from the past year.

What are your thoughts on the value of social business to an organization, and can you talk about how Adobe is organized around social media?

Social media represents a tremendous opportunity and paradigm shift for brands. For several years, brands were at the center of their marketing efforts – they controlled the message, their story, and how it was told publicly through designated spokespeople. Social media has turned this traditional communications model on its head. Today, customers are at the center of communications. In many cases, they can drive and shift brand perceptions by vocalizing their views on a brand or its products and services.  Social media has also enabled brands to build direct relationships with customers at a level of magnitude that is unprecedented.  The brands that embrace these shifts stand to win.  So it is critical for businesses today to organize their social media programs, resource them adequately, engage with customers authentically and measure their effectiveness in order to be successful.

Adobe’s social media program was founded in December 2009 after we discovered great pockets of innovation across the company that were occurring in silos and lacking an overarching strategy. We adopted the popular “Hub and Spoke” model. The hub (or center of excellence) would enable more coordinated and strategic social media across the company through a common set of guidelines, trainings, and infrastructure, while the spokes (subject matter experts) would drive day-to-day social strategies for their specific line of business.  Today, Adobe has moved towards the multiple hub and spoke model, where teams worldwide have established their own hub and spokes based on growing needs, with a dotted line to the teams at corporate.

2012 was a year where social media played a larger role in Adobe’s integrated campaign efforts like Create Now and Metrics Not Myths. There was room to test and take more risk. Thoughts on successes and takeaways for each campaign?

It is true that in 2012, social media started to play a strategic and critical role in campaign development and execution. The two primary campaigns that we launched as a company in 2012 were very different.

“Create Now” represents Adobe’s traditional DNA – enabling creative professionals to unleash their creativity with our tools and services.  With “Create Now,” we focused on introducing the Creative Cloud and the opportunities it introduced to create freely and receive ongoing product updates with a relatively low price barrier.

The “Create Now” campaign represented the first time we launched a social campaign in a truly global fashion with a diligent focus on measuring tangible ROI.  We delivered robust and engaging content to activate our fan base and experimented with games including real and virtual or online scavenger hunts to drive engagement.  We also encouraged trial downloads and eventually purchase of our new offering.   Through our rigorous measurement we were able to demonstrate high volumes of engagement with our customers, positive sentiment and significant ROI.

“Metrics not Myths” is a new type of campaign for Adobe.  While Adobe is traditionally associated with our creative side of the business, few people know that a large portion of Adobe’s business is also focused on digital marketing. In order to drive greater awareness for Adobe’s leadership position in digital marketing, we launched a provocative campaign that focused on debunking traditional myths about marketing.

Through this campaign we learned that not all of our experimental efforts will be successful.  In this case, we tried to establish a community of digital marketers on Facebook through an application through which we featured live debates and real time polling to engage our audience.  We did not attract the number of marketers that we hoped we would and the level of engagement was lower than our target but we were able to grow our Twitter and Facebook communities and learn from these efforts.

One aspect of the program that was highly successful was the “ultimate case study” where we published the real-time results and takeaways from the campaign as it was being executed.

I think we are learning as we go with both campaigns. For Create Now, we want to focus on the ongoing value that a Creative Cloud membership provides as members have access to ongoing updates and benefits. For “Metrics not Myths” we are targeting ourselves – digital marketers who are in the market for solutions that ease our day to day tasks and ultimately help us prove the ROI of our efforts. Both are challenging and exciting in their own ways.

Social media ROI is a hot topic. You have team that spearheads measurement, analytics and even social e-commerce. What’s your perspective on ROI for social, particularly a B2B organization?

Adobe is fortunate to own analytics solutions that allow us to track and determine the impact of our social media efforts against traditional demand generation success metrics such as trial download, website traffic, and ultimately, revenue.

However, I believe that the true value of social media extends beyond ROI and demand generation. To me, the true value of social media lies in the interactions a brand has with its customers, and the consequent actions those customers take on behalf of the brand by defending it in times of crisis and promoting their positive experiences with your brand with their extended networks. Business impact and ROI are most certainly very important – and we extend great effort to measure and report on these metrics in order to improve our programs and prove their worth.  At the same time, the value of building strong relationships with your customers is intangible but equally important.

Adobe just hit 10M fans and followers across its social media presence. Any plans you can share about activating them in the year ahead?

A primary focus of ours in 2013 will be to further activate our social media influencers and advocates by building more organized and consistent programs that recognize and reward our advocates for their actions. As mentioned, I believe the true value of social media lies in the relationships a brand builds with its customers.  We hope to continue to delight our fans and followers by listening to their requests and by continuing to deliver compelling and engaging content.

Happy Community Manager Appreciation Day!

Birds of a Feather Community managers put in long hours making sure their communities are happy and thriving. They’re the face of the company to hundreds or even thousands of customers, and are sometimes the only company employee any customer will know by name.

Within their companies, they are the voice of the customer, reporting back on issues, concerns, successes, and requests. And yet all too often, they are the company’s unsung heroes.

Community Manager Appreciation Day is one small way to help balance those scales out. Today is a day to recognize these heroes and let them know they’re valued.

So here’s to community managers everywhere! Each in your way works to make the world a happier and more harmonious place. Thank you for all that you do.

Facebook’s New Graph Search

Facebook’s high level goals have always been centered on creating more connections, creating more interactions, and getting people to stay logged into Facebook for longer periods of time. As Forrester’s Nate Elliot pointed out, “Facebook’s worst nightmare is a static social graph”, which is a very real concern.

Facebook introduced Graph Search which enables users to search their own social graph; spending more time on Facebook and finding more people to connect and interact with. The Graph Search appears as a larger search bar at the top of the screen. Searches are constructed using phrases (“which of my friends have been to AT&T Park” rather than “SF Giants”) and a series of filters. Although Facebook has made it clear that this is not an engine to search the web, it does apply competitive pressure to Google, Bing, and other search engines since this will potentially create more advertising opportunities on Facebook.

The new feature is currently in beta; if you want to take it for a test drive, you can request that here.

FBGraphSearch1

Individuals

This new product is aimed at helping individuals discover more people and content to Like, comment on, or otherwise engage with. No new content is made available or public; it is just that which a person would already be able to see browsing around in Facebook.  While making it easier to find friends that also love banjos or help to plan a Game of Thrones party, it could also turn into a way to easily find social recommendations for local businesses, much like what Yelp does but with more social context.

Businesses

Facebook Graph Search will include paid results, such as Sponsored Stories. This paves the way to sell more of these ads as more people explore Facebook through Graph Search. It also sets the stage for future ad products that are even more targeted and personalized. Similar to Google, Facebook will be able to develop a database on how people search, in addition to the wealth of other knowledge they have on people.

In addition to the Yelp-like use case I mentioned above, Graph Search has implications for larger brands as well. Facebook is encouraging brands to “continue to invest in [their] page[s]”, making sure that all the information listed is up to date and as complete as possible.  A brand’s content or pages can be populated in search results organically if they are relevant. For example, someone searching for “web development tools my friends like” might see the Adobe Dreamweaver page populated in the results.  A search for “Creative events near me” could point the searcher towards the Adobe MAX page if they live in the area or if their friends have liked that page.

FBGraphSearch2

Now What?

This would be a good time to make sure any information you have posted (like photos and interests) are up to date and still what you want to be shared. It is also a good time to review your privacy settings to make sure you are only sharing what you think you are.

For businesses, this will mean an increased emphasis on relevant content, complete profiles, and even fan counts, all of which will impact ranking. This also means it is important to make sure any off-Facebook sites that are linked to (like blogs or home pages) are optimized for Facebook sharing (i.e., meta data, preview images, etc.). As Facebook continues to develop its Graph Search, we will see more opportunities for brands to connect with and target specific customers, and see even greater importance placed on constructing a more relevant and engaging social presence.

 

More resources:

Facebook’s newsroom page

Huffington Post

Mashable

New Year, New Community Events

community There’s two community events coming up in the Bay Area, both in their fourth year, and both of which I’m pleased that Adobe is participating in.

The first is Community Manager Appreciation Day – January 28th. #CMAD, as it’s known on Twitter, is dedicated to highlighting the efforts of community managers – often the unsung heroes of a company.

If you’re a community manager and will be in San Francisco on the 28th, Adobe, in cooperation with Altimeter, Autodesk, Yammer, Lithium, and The Community Roundtable, will be hosting a Happy Hour at District Wine Bar. Please RSVP here and we hope to see you there!

The other event is the Community Leadership Summit West, an all-day unconference on February 2nd. Community managers and unconferences are a great combination, and each year I come away impressed with the depth of discussion and the great insights displayed. Whether you are a professional community manager, or an active volunteer, CLSWest is worth your time. You’ll meet some great people and learn a lot. You can sign up here.

I’ll be at both events and hope to see you there!

“Nearby” – Facebook Mobile Strategy Comes Into Focus

By: David Koroghlian

Earlier this week, Facebook hit the reset button on their failed “Places” venture with a complete overhaul to the Facebook “Nearby” feature in their mobile apps.  The updates to Nearby position Facebook as a serious competitor in the check-in and local discovery engine space.  The move is not only a direct and powerful strike at Foursquare, Yelp and Google Local, it is also a potential boon to local businesses, as well as Facebook users.  The move comes at an important time for Facebook, as they continue to be challenged on how they can use mobile as a revenue-driving channel and ultimately further monetize their massive 600+ million-user base.

What is Nearby?

 

Nearby is a feature within the Facebook for iOS and Android apps that is intended to help users find and discover local businesses and signals a major push forward from Facebook into the local search space.  With this newly released update, in addition to showing which friends have checked in at a particular establishment, Nearby will help people discover places near them based on their interest graph, as well as their friends’ recommendations. People can search for local businesses by category as well as provide star ratings and recommendations for places they have checked into.

Once a user has clicked through to a specific business page, they will be shown basic information about that business, including location, phone number, their timeline, recommendations, and friends that like the place.  While Nearby will help users to find new places, the true power of the discovery engine comes in the form of personalized recommendations which will become refined the more users and their friends rate, recommend and check into places.

Brand Implications – Things to Keep an Eye On

For brands with physical locations, this will be an important channel of focus, but one that will take attention to leverage most effectively.  Facebook has pointed to an almost EdgeRank like algorithmic approach to surfacing local establishments based on check-ins, star ratings, and friends recommendations.  To that end, businesses should consider updating their pages to be fully optimized for discovery with Nearby.

Facebook has offered the following tips on their blog for local businesses looking to benefit from its new functionality:

  • Include basic information such as your address, store hours, phone number, and details about your business in the about section.
  • Update your category. For example, if you are a sushi restaurant, you will not appear if you do not have the correct category listed.
  • Encourage connections from customers: likes, check-ins, ratings, and recommendations.

In addition to the tips Facebook has offered up, it will be important for brands to drive Facebook activity via in-store promotion in order to prompt and encourage users to Like, check-in, make recommendations and provide ratings of their establishments.  Another area of continued focus for brands should be moderation of comments and activity on their pages.  While this should always be a critical part of any social program, the potential for heightened visibility and eyeballs to brand pages through Nearby, only further underscores the need for prompt and diligent dialogue with fans of brands.  In addition to social moderation, as the platform grows and becomes monetized, brands should keep an eye on the potential for paid media opportunities via promoted places, sponsored results, click-to-call advertising or other mobile-location based ads.

According to Facebook, this is an early release and there will be more to come with Nearby, including the addition of data from third party services.  It stands to reason that Facebook will (and should) provide brands the ability to offer specials, discounts and coupons to users who check-in.  Currently, offers are not part of any visible functionality within the Nearby experience.

One other question that will continue to proliferate is user adoption and why would a user utilize this service over another similar check-in like service?  That is a valid question, which will be answered over time.  At present Facebook has nested the Nearby feature within the left navigation menu, rather than in a prominent location in the header – which could limit user adoption.  While we don’t have stats from Facebook on usage patterns, it stands to reason that most users (outside of power users or community managers) are strictly focused on their news feed and thus might not be exploring outside of this user experience.

The potential for Facebook and brands with the launch of a revamped Nearby is obvious and clear.  The question now becomes, is there room for another horse in the social, local, mobile race and who will ultimately be the last one standing? My chips are on Facebook.