Social Media Results Conference
On Tuesday, May 22, I attended the Social Media Results Conference in London.
This post is the notes I made about the event.
Companies such as Boots, O2, Microsoft, play.com and Sainsbury's (Online Marketing Managers) presented about their experiences in 4 areas: Engagement, Communication, Measurement, and Profit.
My notes are mainly about examples relating to trying to assess the value and effectiveness of social media in terms of business investment:
Microsoft's Vagar Khamisani, the Customer Experience Manager, presented on their project to detect influential people linked to their products by rating profiles and adding Positive, Negative or Neutral labels to them. This allows them to focus their attention primarily on their most influential users.
Another example was from Jake Steadman, Head of Brand & Social Media Insight at O2. Jake delivered a really interesting presentation about how O2 have looked for ways to measure the value of their 500,000 users across all their social media channels. This method focuses on the individual and their content by calculating the value of a user through the visibility of that content.
A final example I'd highlight was the presentation of Thomas Knorpp, Digital Media Manager at Sainsbury's, focusing on the value that social networks can bring in getting early warning of crises and opportunities, i.e. any incident with sufficient critical mass to trigger a predefined process for immediate action where seconds can make the difference between lucrative profits or catastrophic losses. A great example is the girl who asked for the name of Tiger Bread to be changed to Giraffe Bread which went viral on social media, another is the case of the exploding coffee machine at a Sainsbury's cafeteria.
It was funny how in every break we were all talking about the same thing: What is the true business value of such high investment in social media?
Personally I argued that branding is important but it is questionable whether social media is really an effective branding tool. It could even be negative in a human social ecosystem where bad news travels fast. Social networks are entertainment, business is the opposite, etymologically at least: the Spanish word for business "negocio", is derived from the Latin words nec otium (not entertainment).
In fact, I go even further.
Even the Twitter and Facebook businesses themselves are not hugely profitable business models. The founder of Twitter, Jack Dorsey left Twitter (I think in 2008) to launch Square, a trading platform which looks set to be a real money-maker.
So .... what is the value of social media to increase online conversion rates? Any other less direct question is a waste of time.
I focus on two important issues that matter because they have a direct impact on increasing sales and return on investment in social media.
- Exploiting social data to improve conversion processes in e-commerce sites: For example to know which products are most popular in any given moment. That is, imagine an established author dies and this increases their visibility on Twitter. We can detect this at an early stage and adapt the online catalogue of a bookstore to promote the work of the author. That is, knowing the conversational context of the catalogue offers more and better ways to improve search and navigation to increase conversion percentage.
- Facilitating Social Networking channels to directly convert sales or generate leads: For example, a DM to order a pizza or to book a hotel room. Nike and Dell are implementing solutions in this area.
We have to view social media purely as a business opportunity, nothing else matters.