By Barton Goldenberg
I have implemented a large Social Media initiative for one of my company’s (ISM) customers. This customer, referred to as Front Runner, is a well-known brand that provides products and services to consumers worldwide. During this journey, ISM planned, designed and implemented a global Social Media pilot.
Front Runner saw Social Media as a new way to communicate with and relate to employees, consumers, partners and other stakeholders. Using Social Media tools, Front Runner created an online community that allowed its customers and prospects to get information, opinions, solutions and ratings directly from each other than from other organizations.
Implementing the Front Runner pilot was an interesting journey. All pilot metrics – both community and business – were met. As a result, the pilot was deemed a big success. This success enabled the Front Runner executive team to formally launch the community shortly upon the pilot completion. The community has since become a key component of Front Runner’s global market reach.
Here are the top lessons that I learned along this journey:
- Secure community sponsorship at the highest levels. To secure Front Runner executive support, the Social Media community tightly supported the organization’s global business goals and objectives.
- Create community metrics at the outset and measure them on a regular basis. At present, most consumer Social Media sites are still looking for a revenue-generating business model. However, from the outset Front Runner’s global Social Media community focused on establishing both standard community metrics and business benefit metrics. These metrics included deepened penetration within key segments of their customer base and new customer revenues.
- Integrate the Social Media community with other ongoing initiatives. Front Runner’s Social Media community was not launched as a stand-alone island. Instead, the community was designed to seamlessly integrate with existing Front Runner customer and prospect marketing outreach programs. Both programs utilized existing internal resources. This helped secure needed backing for the community from Front Runner’s global executive team.
- Leverage external channel partners.Front Runner decided to invite partners and distribution channel members to participate in their community. Both wrote blogs, participated in forums, and sponsored contests within the community. By leveraging external resources, Front Runner was able to add subject matter expertise and additional horsepower to their community efforts.
- Community monitoring needs to be taken very seriously. While Social Media platform tools allow organizations to filter comments for appropriateness, the community needs to be monitored on regularly for accuracy and civility. ISM shared monitoring responsibilities with Front Runner during the pilot. Together everyone learned how to counter self-promotion or inflammatory statements without taking away from the spontaneity of the community.
- Global communities have additional complexities.Being a global community added many challenges. Such challenges included working across multiple time zones, being sensitive to differing data privacy laws in different countries, and listening carefully to a wide range of business requirements.
- Social Media community integration with Social CRM is still not intuitive. The harvesting and integration of social insight gathered from Front Runner’s social community was a big challenge. As a result, Front Runner is currently putting into place a more automated process to harvest and integrate social insight gathered from the community into their Social CRM application. They will leverage this insight in their customer engagement efforts.
I will be holding a Webinar: “How to Leverage Social CRM to Your Organization’s Advantage” on Tuesday, September 15. In this Webinar, I will show you how to systematically harvest information from any online conversation and community, integrate it into customer profiles, and use it to enhance customer engagement and to seamlessly personalize better interactions and offers across your entire business. You will learn how to reap the benefits of Social CRM in a similar manner like Front Runner.
To register for this Webinar, please click here
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Barton Goldenberg, is the founder and president of ISM Inc., customer-centric strategists/implementers serving best-in-class organizations globally. As a CRM leader for 30 years, he was among the first three inductees in the CRM Hall of Fame. Recognized as a leading “customer-focused” author, his latest book, The Definitive Guide to Social CRM, is hailed as the roadmap for Social CRM success. Barton is a popular speaker on “maximizing customer relationships to gain market insights, customers and profits”. He is a long-term columnist for CRM Magazine and speaker for CRMevolution and frequently quoted in the media.