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The Art & Science of Social Business

Earlier this week, 170 folks gathered at the Canadian Marketing Association‘s event, The Art & Science of Social Business. Completely sold out, this was not a ‘how-to’ about social media but a series of case studies, keynotes and Q&A on how social media can be set-up & leveraged to support organization objectives (view detailed agenda).

Key takeaways were:

  1. Effective social media isn’t just about creating. It all starts with effective listening. For organizations, listening processes are very important.
  2. Coming late to the game does not mean you can’t successfully leverage social media now.
  3. Great content (timely, relevant, etc) is still vitally important.
  4. Don’t be afraid to jump in and make mistakes, but do have a plan and desired outcomes.
  5. Structure, process and the right enabling technology are needed to leverage ‘weak ties‘.
  6. Invest in managing and planning social media (4C’s, triaging idea requests, business planning).
  7. Community managers are critically important to the health and sustainment of a community. They’re a critical investment.

Organized by a multi-council CMA committee* (that I was honoured to serve on), the afternoon started with case study presentations followed by Q&A about “Building Your Community”:

  • Lisa McKeen, Invest in Kids, spoke about the creation and launch of a customized web community designed to support professionals working with First Nations families, often from remote locations. Quality content and interaction are keys to success. Participation from specific experts was key, and to date, of the 215 experts targeted, 175 are on-board and participating.
  • Michelle Kostya (@michellekostya) and Becky Young (@rebecyoung), Research in Motion (RIM), shared their successes in building their Blackberry online communities. Coming late to the game with competitors more established in the social space, RIM pursued a strategy of great content, engaging directly, connecting community members regardless of socmed platform, and promising them that they’ll “be the first to know”. In less than 2 years, they have grown from silent to a buzz level of 2/3 of their major competitor (labeled ‘A’). Sentiment is more positive rather than negative, as compared to competitor ‘A’ which is roughly equal (picture of slide by @adriancapo)

Following the discussion about setting up and Building Communities, the next three presenters shared their journeys, still ongoing, Leveraging their Communities:

  • Jamie Kalesnikoff and Aileen Corr, WIND Mobile, used their communities before WIND mobile’s launch in December 2009 to find out what customers really wanted in a wireless provider and to recruit staff for stores. Six months after launch, 60% of WIND customers are community members, 28% self-described as active, and 10% engage daily in the community. WIND uses community input to prioritize and allocate resources. One prime example was the sale of standalone SIM cards, which when from ‘to-do’ to available in-store for purchase in record time. In the area of recruiting, social media definitely paid off as a source of quality talent. They offered positions to 63% of those who applied. And total inbound job applications had exceeded target by 25%.
  • Avi Pollock (@avipollock), RBC, talked about how RBC believes the only way to jump the curve and drive business growth is to be innovative. To that end, RBC Next Innovator Challenge, which seeks participation from university students, has fulfilled its objective, leading to new ideas and insights for products, several in-market trials. Submissions are whittled down to 5 finalists, one of which is selected by public vote. Participants are also a potential source of recruits for RBC.

  • Matt Ramella (@mattramella) described how Labatt has built participatory communities around brands, and has seen significant brand health improvements through targeted participation campaigns. One example: The “Kill/Save the Kokanee Ranger” campaign resulted in a brand health increase of 20% over the summer of 2008. Huge increase for a relatively well-established brand. Later successful campaigns, all evaluated by long-term brand tracking, involved redesigning the Kokanee label, designing the Bud Light Lime glass and asking whether Bud Light Lime should be on tap. Interacting person to person (dare I use the overused ‘genuinely’?) does create brand ambassadors. Recognition can be as simple as a T-shirt and thank-you. The brand tracking charts were eye opening and I hope they’re in the presentation when the attendee download-link is live.

Following a networking break, John Bastone (@johnbastone) from SAS showed how, if your reputation objectives are clear and sentiment analytics properly set up for effective listening, sentiment deep-diving can help isolate specific trigger events. And those lovely phrase clouds don’t happen automatically. To be meaningful, much work needs to be done behind the scenes, but it’s perfectly doable, if objectives are clearly defined.

The third session of the day delved into how social media can be used to empower employees.

  • Jeff Gluck (@jeffgluck) described MTS Allstream‘s Idea Factory, intended to facilitate more flexible dialogue amongst employees, stimulate responsive engagement and enable agile solutions. Launched to employees in February 2010, employees input ideas and vote on whether the idea is good for them/ good for the organization. They can also raise their hand to volunteer to be part of the solution. Many ideas have been resolved amongst employees without any moderation. However, a moderator is required to triage ideas, to catalyze the hand-off of some ideas. After the initial surge, ideas are down to a very manageable level. Idea quality is high. One surprise is that the amount of executive involvement to move ideas along has been much lower than expected. Looking forward to hearing more about this initiative.
  • Paul Regan talked about how social media is changing the nature of internal communication at Scotiabank. One ambitious project involves their intranets. Because they use Sharepoint and it’s easy to create an intranet, Scotiabank has 500-1000 intranets, resulting in lots of isolated knowledge and thought. Not a good thing. Scotiabank believes that to be innovative, organizations need access the collective knowledge of their organization. To unlock this silo’d knowledge, Scotiabank is using social media to leverage the strength of weak ties. The silo’d intranets are evolving into weak-linked social media communities. Common interest, non-departmental communities are springing up, facilitating growth of weak ties. In another example, the VP of network security has moved from sending internal internal email newsletters to blogging. While he never knew if anyone was even reading his newsletter, now he regularly engages in open conversation about a variety of IT topics, with employees at all levels of the organization.

Last and definitely not least, David Armano (@armano), Edelman, proclaimed “‘Social Media is Dead. Long Live Common Sense”. Acknowledging he’s just trying to get our attention at the end of a long day, he says social media is not dead, common sense is needed. Key points:

Great slides, messages and presentation to end the day (found slides on Slideshare. Thank you, David).

This jam-packed afternoon was followed by networking, in the vault (yes, the link is correct; this used to be a working bank vault).

Any inaccuracies or misquotes above? Please do let me know.

Twitter hashtag for the conference was #cmasmc. AgileDudes (@agiledudes) was live tweetcasting (read their post). One interesting tidbit: 1 in 5 attendees tweeted during the afternoon.

Feedback forms have been sent to all attendees and we’re eagerly awaiting their thoughts.

June Li
ClickInsight

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* This multi-council CMA event committee was co-chaired by Steve Mast, Delvinia Interactive and Adrian Capobianco, Quizative . Team members were David Alston, Radian6, Kaksha Metha, RBC, Jennifer Morozowich, The Marketing Store, Gillian MacPherson of ICOM (Epsilon Targeting) and myself. And this event would not have been successful without the efforts of CMA events team, led by Cathy Landolt and Amanda DiQuattro.

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