Tag Archives: Jeremiah+Owyang

Experts Discuss 4 Key Reasons Why Social Media Fails

webexsf2009_logo1Today at the Web 2.0 Expo, a panel of industry thought leaders – Peter Kim (Dachis Corporation), Charlene Li (Altimeter Group), and Jeremiah Owyang (Forrester Research) discussed “Why Social Media Marketing Fails  - and how to fix it.”

Keeping true to the spirit of social media, Peter Kim invited input for this session before the show, on his blog where folks responded with what they wanted to see at this session. Not surprising, it was standing room only for this brilliant panel of former and current Forrester analysts.

Here are the key highlights from this insightful discussion where panelists also provided concrete suggestions on overcoming major hurdles to social media success in companies.

#1 How do I get my culture to adopt? (Lack of buy-in from C-level executives)
This was quoted as the No.1 reason by the panelists for the failure of social media adoption and success in companies. Charlene Li bluntly stated that, most companies are not ready for change. “Big guns” need to get involved and for those executives to get onboard is show the connection to bottom-line/revenue. Li highly recommends “Go for the sweet spot”, which are corporate (financial) goals that the management is focused on and to demonstrate how social media can help drive those results.

Jeremiah’s experience was different in that executives are usually the last to adopt. Smaller groups at lower level management were more likely to drive social media adoption. However all three agreed on the need for a champion at the executive level to make social media successful in the long-term.

Peter Kim asked whether companies needed a “Chief Social Officer” to help social media adoption in companies?  Li disagreed and said that it was a fallacy. Social media shouldn’t be just one person and that it would be “dangerous” to have just one person responsible for social media. She believed that it’s everybody’s responsibility. She gave the example of Charles Schwab, which is focused on a customer engagement strategy and for them social media is just one of the many ways to achieve that strategy.  

Kim pointed out another dangerous fallacy and that was the perception  that social media ia young person’s game and many companies hire interns to do their social media strategy. Li thought a good practice she has seen is that many companies are pairing up marketing folks with younger people. Owyang suggested using the Hub and Spoke model, where various cross-functional groups drive the initiatives but coordination is done centrally. The other two models he discussed were: Tire – social media is initiated from the edges and grows organically without any coordination. Tower – social media is initiated from upper management levels and can be inauthentic.

#2 How do I make my campaigns work? (Using the “Campaign” model)
All three panelists pointed out that it was wrong and misguided for marketers to treat social media as just another “campaign”. Li said that attitude is the biggest problem, because social media is not a campaign. She went on to add that it’s about relationships and conversations,  not about technologies and she also said that very few brands do this right. 

Kim interjected with a question (and reality check) - How do we align the need for conversations in public companies with quarterly pressures, which necessitates focus on campaigns? To which, Owyang responded there should be a balance between business objectives and community objectives with equal counts of both. He cautions marketers against using campaigns, which are short-term and instead focus on long-term objectives of the company.

Kim pointed out there is need to change how public companies work and the way they think of their external and internal stakeholders including detractors. He also acknowledged that it’s a difficult road ahead. Li agreed and found that there’s much more collaboration going on. There are conversations already happening, folks are asking recommendations, and it’s all occuring very naturally for local brands and business.

He also acknowledged, the real fear for many traditional marketers, with this question – Should we get rid of the marketing dept? He was alluding to how social media is changing the role of marketers in the organization. To which Li responded that marketing is all about promotion and advertising. Social media helps get those other parts get elevated however, she also pointed out that advertising on social network advertising is a bad idea and it doesn’t work.

One interesting idea that came up was around some type of educational courses, credentials or “certification” for social media practitioners. Li was in favor of having some type of certification however, Owyang was against it, saying that he himself was a practitioner and believed that experience was more important.

#3 What should I measure? (Lack of measurement)
Kim pointed out that the biggest fail in social media and marketing in general is measurement.  Owyang said the traditional marketers measure using on dashboards that show them the page views, visits, and other metrics. However, he said that’s not very meaningful way to measure social media ROI. He advocates the use of a directional system, similar to GPS system rather than a dashboard. In order to measure social media success, he suggests using business metrics around what you trying to accomplish such as customer retention and satisfaction measures rather than web metrics.

Li brought a great point - start by asking yourself why are you measuring? Are you trying to decide the allocation of budget or do a comparison with other channels? She said that social media shouldn’t be measured in isolation but rather as part of the overall measurement of other efforts. She said, “How can you measure social media if you don’t measure in other areas?” She did an informal poll of the audience at the discussion and many hands went up when she asked how many were working on social media initiatives. It was very telling that very few raised their hand, when Li asked how many were able to measure their results.

#4 Does social media matter? (Real impact of social media)
This was yet another very interesting point that was brought up in the discussion. Owyang mentioned a recent informal poll by Adage, who asked mainstream folks about Motrin Twitter Moms controversy. Most hadn’t heard about the incident or didn’t know much about it, so that begged the question whether social media was even relevant to mainstream. One thing Owyang mentioned was that when social media buzz such as the Motrin Moms, starts getting picked up by the mainstream media, that’s when it starts becoming relevant. 

Li followed up with a fascinating perspective, that it’s failure in social media that really matters. She went on to say that it’s more important to understand whether your culture can adopt it. It’s also all about extending yourself and learning.  According to Li,  if you’re not failing, that means you are not doing anything and not learning anything in the process.

Throughout the discussion, the panelists took questions from the audience on a variety of related topics. Some had questions around liability issues arising from social media activities especially, in sensitive industries like finance.  Li gave the example of Wells Fargo, who had recently launched a Twitter account. The panel agreed that it was all about experimenting and learning. Li cautioned against companies starting in social media with Twitter. Companies need to have some experience under their belt in social media, before they start on Twitter so they already have processes built to effectively engage their audience.  

Another question was around multi-national implementation. Owyang suggested using the hub and spoke where hub is corporate, while spoke represent the regions. Both Li and Kim suggested learning and aggregating learnings from other countries. Li also pointed out something interesting, which was that social networks might be global but folks limit their social media activity to specific geographic regions. Some exceptions might be industries like movies and media. Kim reiterated this by saying that rather than using global presence as a barrier, company should use it as learning opportunity.

Addressing the question around use of social media in gathering intelligence, Kim said that all the information in the world won’t help, if the companies are not willing to do anything with it.

Lastly, when someone asked about companies that gotten it right, the panelist mentioned Dell as an example of a huge social media failure but also as a success story as a company that also learned from those failures to get it right? Another example, Li gave was WalMart, who has been blogging since 2006. She commended how they keep trying and don’t give up. Overall, the panel was unanimous in that companies need to let go and that continues to be a challenge. 

You can follow the conversation around this panel discussion on Twitter #smfail.

Web 2.0 Expo Sessions Focus on Best Practices in Social Media

webexsf2009_logoThis year’s (non-sponsored) sessions at the Web 2.0 Expo have a heavy focus on the tactical aspects of social media. This is symptomatic of the current state of social media, which has finally moved past gee whiz, with many companies firmly in implementation and learning phase of social media adoption.

There are some quality sessions devoted to healthy introspection of what has worked in the social media space and learnings from those experiences. Here are the sessions on best practices in social media marketing that I am looking forward to attending (more details on these sessions to follow in future posts): 

Why Social Media Marketing Fails – and How To Fix It
Peter Kim (Dachis Corporation), Charlene Li (Altimeter Group), Jeremiah Owyang (Forrester Research)
8.30am Wednesday, 04/01/2009
In order to make social media marketing matter, brands must answer key questions like: – How can companies measure activity? – What about scalability? – Why does our organizational structure prevent participation? This session will propose answers to those questions and attempt to help marketers think through the issues that will make social media marketing matter.

Best Practices in Social Media Integration for Web Publishers and Content Providers
Bob Buch (Digg)
2:40pm Wednesday, 04/01/2009
This session will explore some of the best practices employed by publishers who have been successful in gearing their brands, user experiences, and content toward increasing traffic from social media sites and providing a relevant experience to help engage those users and monetize the traffic.

It’s the People, Stupid
Brian Oberkirch (Small Good Thing), Deborah Schultz (deborahschultz.com)
1:30pm Thursday, 04/02/2009
The most interesting problems on the Web are social, not technical. Once the open, social stack moves into wide use, the real work is going to be on us to create ongoing experiences that inspire, inform, evolve. his session will pay particular attention to what happens after launch, as the presenters think – an attentive to and fro is the intimate secret of success.

Applying the Social Dimension to the Lockheed Martin Mission
Steve Wylie (Techweb), Shawn Dahlen (Lockheed Martin), Christopher Keohane (Lockheed Martin)
2:40pm Friday, 04/03/2009
This is the session I am most interested in attending, since it’s the only session that covers social media deployment in a specific large enterprise. In this session, Lockheed Martin will share the details behind their Unity program (new methodology) and explain their roadmap to assist the IT community in rapidly developing mission-specific applications that leverage their social media investment.

Two more sessions on the Enterprise 2.0 space that also sound interesting:

The Open Enterprise: How Web Tools And Culture Are Remaking Business
Stowe Boyd (The /Messengers), Oliver Marks (Sony PlayStation, )
2:40pm Wednesday, 04/01/2009
This session covers long-term research project starting in November 2008 to examine the impact of Web 2.0 technology and culture on the enterprise: The Open Enterprise 2009 Study & Report. The presenter intends to discuss the motivations for business adoption of Web 2.0 tools and technologies, and the barriers to their adoption; the types of tools and technologies involved; the sorts of investments being made; and the ways Web 2.0 is changing the way business is conducted.

Collaboration at Scale: Why Technology Alone Doesn’t Work
Doug Solomon (IDEO), Gentry Underwood (IDEO)
1:30pm Friday, 04/03/2009
The session will address key principles for maximizing the value of technology in Web 2.0 systems that have been derived from IDEO’s own experiences. The decisions made will be illustrated through actual live demonstrations of how these choices have been implemented in an operational intranet.