On 25th May 2010, Microsoft hosted Dell’s second B2B Social Media Huddle in London.
This blog post will look at what has changed since the previous event held last December, and will be a shorter post than the original series. Some content was repeated or similar and reading the first series would be a good place to start, beginning with Dell B2B Social Media Huddle – Part 1 (December 2009).
Overall, the tone was more muted this time and focused on the reality of social media, mixing lessons learned in how to benefit from social media with examples that question its value in a business-to-business (B2B) context. I suspect that’s because business-to-business examples are far more likely to be found under the umbrella of Enterprise 2.0 than Social Media. At this event, there was a lot more emphasis on social media for advertising and marketing.
Does Social Media Matter?
12 months ago, the first time Domino’s Pizza management heard about what their employees had been up to on YouTube was when they were tipped off by a blogger. The incident was considered a case study in why businesses should be more actively monitoring and participating in social media. But Domino’s did react quickly once notifed and, 12 months later, has any damage been done to the brand? The evidence suggests you can fail miserably (initially) at social media, the judgement comes more from your reaction and how you get out of a bad situation rather than how you got into it…
During one of the unconference sessions, the presenter Ciaran Norris played a video of IKEA leveraging Facebook for social media marketing. IKEA created a profile, uploaded photos and whoever was first to tag an item in the photo won the item. Held up as a great example of how to engage your audience, what’s the benefit? Outside those who received free goods, does it change anyone else’s opinion? Decide for yourself:
Whilst I’m unconvinced about how much value was generated from this one-time limited lucky dip, for sure some value was created. And that’s perhaps the point we have reached with social media…
What’s the Return on Inaction?
With businesses struggling to put a value on social media efforts, making any potential return on investment hard to predict, an alternative approach was offered – evaluating the return on inaction. (You could equally use ‘Risk on Inaction’.) What happens if you do nothing? In the era of telephones, if your customers all had telephones would you choose not to have one? What’s the value of that telephone? How about the value of having an email address? Or web site?…
Whilst I’m getting more than a little tired of videos displaying trends to a thumping tune designed to have everyone reacting in amazement, the numbers do illustrate just how far we have travelled down the rabbit hole in to Internet wonderland.
Target who you interact with…
It was interesting to observe at the event how Dell and Cisco continue to expand their social media efforts to reach a larger audience. Both have multiple accounts on Twitter and fan pages/groups on Facebook. For brands, it seems the more successful use of Social Media come from specalisation, connecting with multiple but very specific audiences rather than the generic TV method of targeting everyone/stereotypes. It would be prohibitively expensive to create specialist adverts for print and TV media, but not so with social networks.
…and let your targets find you
I’ve tweeted my frustration at seeing Nokia target my Facebook profile with pink versions of their outdated phones, when the only data they have to go on is that my profile gender is female. That is no different to a stereotyped TV advert. The successful uses of online sites like Facebook and Twitter involve creating channels that people want to join. We ignore banners splattered around the site then go visit the fan page of a brand. They are both advertising mechanisms. Facebook’s challenge is that it is currently trying to monetise using the old fashioned format rather than the new. Just as the advertising industry never thought online text ads would work when Google first introduced them to finance a search engine, the same disruptive thinking is needed if advertising is to also finance a social network.
“Be careful what you wish for…”
It’s that age old quote and one to consider by all businesses tentatively engaging in social media to promote sales. Back to the IKEA example. Technically, they broke Facebook’s terms of service (ToS) by creating a profile to advertise their products. And the idea has recently spawned fake imitations with fans being duped into handing over personal details to con artists – see IKEA Imposter attracts thousands of Facebook fans per hour. Unlikely to cause long-term damage to IKEA but time and resources are now required to monitor and manage the social media channels they have chosen to participate in.
To wrap-up, the repeating message throughout the event was that social media will take time and resources, and you will fail at some point. The medium is too unpredictable to not fail, as IKEA is now learning. It’s how you respond and adjust that will make all the difference. With all the pitfalls, it may feel tempting to try and ignore social media. But the simple fact is, you can’t. It’s like the telephone, email and web sites. In their early days, they were a luxury. But once they became established, to not participate is to not be in business. Once you overcome the realisation that avoiding social media is pointless, you can start to focus on the unique benefits it can offer that justify managing those inevitable pitfalls.
Twitter has brought down barriers to communicate with people you would previously have struggled to connect with
Mel Carson talked through lessons learned by Microsoft Advertising as they began to engage in social media. This quote was the highlight and is applicable to everyone. For Mel, it resulted in getting Stephen Fry to attend a meeting. Whilst you might not secure a visit from Mr Fry to your birthday party, there is nothing stopping you from contacting him, direct, through Twitter. It is becoming common for TV shows to include a Twitter hashtags. Two examples from the BBC – The Virtual Revolution and Wonders of the Solar System. In both cases, the presenters continue to be active on Twitter and will happily argue discuss their point with you. At this event, it was interesting to note that all but two presenters in the brochure had included their Twitter IDs.
This post has summarised some of the content from the excellent Dell B2B Social Media Huddle. A follow up post will look specifically at B2B and B2E (internal) uses of social media. Thanks again to Kerry Bridges and Neville Hobson for organising, and Mel Carson from Microsoft for hosting.
Presentations from the event:
Related blog posts: Social Media tag