I recently produced an event for Sprout entitled Building Brands on Social Networks and am writing to share some of the presentations and content from the half-day summit. We had an overwhelming response and ended up with a packed room, which was very exciting. I hope you’ll find value in the assets below.
I also want to put out a big thank you to our presenters and to San Francisco Social Media Week and the San Francisco Chapter of the American Marketing Association for their help getting the word out. And, thanks for Justin.tv who produced the live video feed which is archived below.
Building Brands on Social Networks
Note: the video from the event did not start until part way though this preso, so we’ve added the audio to the slide deck on slideshare.
Alexandre Roche’s presentation
Dog Book: Lessons Learned from the Popular Facebook Application
Deborah Schultz’s presentation
It’s the People Stupid
Kaz Brecher’s presentation
Rock The Space Toyota/MySpace from the Schematic Perspective
Archived video from the event at Justin.tv
This is a repost of an article I wrote for Sprout. The wave of social media adoption is continuing to bring new brands online and as this trend unfolds the social media eco-system is changing to absorb the new participants. In this post, I’ll share a simple diagram that can help make sense of how the eco-system currently works and how it’s evolving. In the past I’ve written about how social media works its way into brands. In this post I’ll focus on those brands that have identified value in social media and are looking for ways to grow their investment. If you’re working for a brand and want to stay on the forefront of social media you’ve probably looked for a creative agency or a social media agency who can serve as a guide. It’s almost impossible to have an internal team lead this function because the landscape is changing so rapidly. Agencies have more experience, but even they struggle to keep up with the latest opportunities. At Sprout we’re seeing that traditional agencies rely on technology partners not only to help them understand what’s possible with social media but also to help them by building the campaigns. Sprout is a hybrid of a technology company and social media agency. We’re not alone in this approach. Many of our peers are also trying to combine these disciplines in order to deal with the challenges mentioned above. A differentiating factor is that Sprout began as a technology company with a solution for building engaging and social brand experiences. The rapid rate of change in the social media space has given us an advantage over creative agencies. Of course, after working with creative agencies we’ve learned a great deal about designing experiences and combine that knowledge with the detailed reporting, which our platform enables, to improve the performance of our projects. It’s important to understand how the creative/technology mix works at the agencies with whom you’re considering working. At Sprout, we use our platform to help brands power continuous conversations across the web, but we also use it to power campaigns that we develop in conjunction with agencies creative agencies. Further, we offer designers and agencies a way to subscribe to a base level of our platform through Sprout Builder. When the first wave of social media rolled in there was a greater separation between the creative agencies and the technology providers. For the next several years, we expect to see an increase in the number of integrated agencies, like Sprout, because they are better positioned to take advantage of rapidly evolving networks like Facebook. The left side of the diagram below reflects this trend:
Today, it’s the technology platforms that serve as hubs within the eco-system, connecting brands and creative agencies with social networks and distribution partners like DoubleClick, Clearspring, and Gigya, There is also some consolidation taking place between the distributors and ad networks that will continue to drive down the cost of online advertising. Part of what will ultimately stabilize this devaluation is the integration of social content and connectivity into campaigns such that they become significantly more relevant. This is part of what we do at Sprout. Finally, if you’re interested in learning about how you can organize your internal team to work with service providers, check out Jeremiah Owyang’s post about how brand’s adopting social media should adopt a “hub and spoke” model. Think of it as an internal eco-system for brands. Thanks for reading and please post a note if you have any questions or comments!
I noticed that social media wants to work it’s way into companies at pretty much every seam. It rises up from the bottom as employees start using social media tools to discuss their workplace and respond to incoming sentiment, its been creeping into management meetings because service providers are pitching social media projects, and now it’s coming down from the top leadership that has identified it as a potential means of satisfying business goals.
Resistance To Social Media
Of course, this is not happening without resistance and there are some real concerns to consider. For example, many leaders fear what will happen if employees start communicating directly with customers, sending mixed messages, and misrepresenting company policy. For the manager’s part, they have concerns about implementing a social media campaign without understanding how it fits with their overall strategy. Of course, certain industries have significant legal concerns to look out for and there is a sense that companies that wait can learn from the mistakes of the early entrants.
Tenaciousness of Social Media
On the other hand many companies are discovering that social media is a flexible and tenacious vine that can grow under remarkable constraints. For example, if you’re a bank and are worried about running afoul of the complex legal code associated with providing investment advice, you can start a blog about something that’s tangentially related but outside legal review such as ways to improve your credit score or how to save money with home upgrades. Or, if you’ve got employees who are Twittering in response to customer service, you can provide them with some resources that will help them provide the right answers, such as a moderated wiki or faq directory.
In fact, these kinds of resources have often already in place, having been created by the people using social media to save themselves time and effort (i.e. no point in re-writing the same answer twice). The problem is that social media starts popping up in different parts of organizations without coordination. For example, there may be multiple people who have started twitter feeds. Or, one department is running a newsletter and another is running a blog and they’re not working together. On the positive side, you’re engaging with your community. On the negative side, you’re probably not making the best impression.
If this is the case at your organization, check out my post on Managing The Social Media Mix where I talk about how to pull together and optimize the social media vines that are popping up in your business.
Manicuring Social Media
From a strategy perspective, one of the most significant challenges associated with social media is managing the balancing act between providing your team with tools to engage your community while also making sure that they fairly represent your business in a distributed fashion. When I think about the projects I’ve worked on that dealt with this challenge the idea of “freedom within constraints” keeps coming up. This articulation is really a design principle that guides the development of social media guidelines and protocols. Too much constraint and your internal team won’t want to use social media, not enough and it may get unruly.
Just like manicuring a plant, it’s not possible to set the constraints once. Rather, it’s a process of ongoing trimming and direction that seems to produce the best results. Because social media grows and evolves so rapidly, iteration and experimentation are key to a successful program. I’m particularly interested in how social media plays out internally at companies because I believe that many of the best social media ideas come from within. I believe the best results are achieved whenÂ internal channels are combined with regular social media audits.
As always, thanks for reading and I look forward to your comments.