I’m here getting ready for the final morning’s keynote at the Word of Mouth Marketing Association’s annual summit. This morning the opening keynote is ‘Tweets, Posts and Status Updates’, with Jeremiah Owyang, Rick Murray, David Chamberlin, Stephanie Agresta, and Erica Swallow slogging it out to map out the future of word of mouth for marketing and PR. Keep refreshing this page for updates.
08:25 We’re getting the introductions here before we get started.
08:27 Jeremiah gets started with the question, does social media scale?
Rick answers that it does scale, but the question really is a matter of investing in the ROI to demonstrate the value.
Stephanie says the more resources flow in to community management the better. It takes tools and people rather than a ‘community manager’. Talent is a challeneg in making scaling happen.
David says that BP had trouble finding enough social media people to keep up with what was happenin with the oil leak crisis.
Rick says he’s not sure you need 75 people to talk about mustard. Need to scale the investment with the scale of the product.
Jeremiah asks Erica how social media differs internationally. Erica says that while Orkut is still dominant in Brazil and Facebook is dominant in Prague, she was shocked to discover how few people had adopted twitter n places like Prague. This is not necessarily a bad thing but it is evidence of differing needs in strategic development.
Jeremiah asks how has media changed due to social media?
Erica says that media is not necessarily reverting to shorter content, but short messaging systems like twitter are driving traffic to content. Need to make sure that the value is there in sites, but also need to be clear about disseminating information in social networks.
Jeremiah notes that many advertisements on TV are now promoting their facebook.com/brandname address. Should we be sending users away from websites.
Erica says it’s not about drivig people off websites. It’s about flocking where the consumers are. Just because Mark Zuckerberg can monetise it is beside the point. Many sites are not adequately supporting their customers so Facebook may make sense. Rick says it depends on the site. If sites are information based it makes sense to keep sending people to the main site. But if it’s a feedback site it may make sense to use a preexisting conversation space. Stephanie says if you aren’t maximising your own real estate online then you fail to execute on their online startegy. Rick says the eyeballs are already on Facebook. But if you want to talk to specific people, you still need to send people back to the corporate website.
Jeremiah asked where the panellists would advertise on TV for brands: Rick says he’d send people to Facebook. Erica said to corporate website. Stephanie said to Facebook. David said to corporate website.
Jeremiah asks how you deal with the expertise in the development of social content. David says that there is a conflict between getting young people who have ‘expertise’ in the technology to handle communication crises, or getting communications trained people to get to grips with social media. Rick says Edelman have a white belt to black belt training in social media for all segments of the organisation, regardless of age. It’s important to get a fully rounded staff rather than matching skills.
Both Erica and Stephanie discuss the opportunities for ‘reverse mentoring’ where younger people inform older staff on social media.
[JJ's comment: extremely surprised that the panellists think older staff are less skilled at social media. that may have been true a few years ago. Surely it's less true now?]
Question from the floor is on conversational marketing versus conversational advertising.
Rick says that ad agencies have to massively alter their process for development of advertising. Need to allow the community to generate advertising. David says the reputational issues are the challenge to overcome in conversational advertising. Stephanie says brands need to push their ad agencies to change their business model.
Jeremiah asks whether organisations should treat customers with higher social influence better than other customers?
David notes that actually there is a history of treating customers differently. Banks have always treated customers with more money differently from people who have less. You need to have an understanding of who has influence and respond in kind. Erica says influential people who can operate on your behalf and are prepared to do so are brand ambassadors, and it’s okay to treat them differently. Rick says it’s like paid advertising. You are just paying them in kind.
Question from the floor is on how you deal with change management in product development.
Erica says brands can use bug submission systems to help in product development. Rick says it’s a form of outsourcing or crowdsourcing productivity. You MUST listen though otherwise you’re toast.
Question from the floor is back on website versus Facebook as a destination for advertisements. Stephanie says Facebook is buit to be a platform upon which apps can be built. The challenge is to create more value in traditional websites. Rick says the integration will be seamless within five years.
[JJ's comment: have to say I'm agreeing more with Rick than anyone else on this panel. Not that I disagree with others, just that he seems more across the issues.]
Craig Hepburn (Nokia) asks what are the economic and social impacts of integrated, ‘unified’ messaging such as Facebook messaging.
Rick says it’s more a user opportunity than a brand issue at the moment. Stephanie says it depends how much traffic will be sent to Facebook. Need to be clear how much investment needs to go in to Facebook. Rick intervenes, saying it depends on what happens to Google.
Jeremiah says the lowest entry to getting customer support is to yell at friends. Is this a good teaching?
Rick says this isn’t a matter of teaching. It just happens. We need to adapt to the situation. This isn’t new, people have always complained. It’s just that we can ‘hear’ these complaints now.
Erica notes that she is now more inclined to make a comment than before because she got feedback once. Stephanie says that there are some contexts where customer service over twitter is inappropriate. David says it will be interesting to see when businesses start to grade customers to prioritise their responses.
Question from the floor is on location based services.
Erica says she got $5 off her burger from checking in on Foursquare. Rick says Edelman is testing it and not necessarily deploying it yet. You want to be able to track people in real time and real locations but scalability becomes a problem there. Stephanie says there’s a need to evaluate the actual conversion effect of location based services.
[JJ's comment: see my presentation at Mindtrek which covers this territory]
Jeremiah asks the panelists to make a bet on Foursquare versus QR tags: all panellists chose location based services.
Question from the floor is on integration of online versus offline.
Stephanie notes that you need to balance the behaviour offline in order to encourage online conversations. Erica says sometimes when you are speaking online you expect the conversation to be private even if it’s on a public forum. There needs to be judgement of when it’s appropriate to intervene as a brand on those conversations.
Question from the floor is on death of mainstream media.
Rick says the industry of journalism is not dying. Industry is bigger than ever. There is going to be a continued shift to socialising content and monetising content. Business model needs to evolve to accommodate the costs of production.
Jeremiah asks as marketers engage with social media, do we run the risk of bastardising the channel. Will the once-consumer oriented channel be orverrun with brand messages?
Rick says how we operate without screwing up the communications value of online channels is crucial. There is a lot of bad behaviour and laziness. Ethics need to be adhered to, and promoted in order to ensure the channels are not overrun. Erica says there’s probably no-where else for consumers to go at the moment. Stephanie says ‘humanising the brand’ will be the buzz word next year. Organisations need to remember that consumers are choosing to interact, and businesses need to respect that. David says there is so much information being shared that consumers will simply ignore content that doesn’t matter to them.
Jeremiah closes the panel and we head off to breakout sessions.