Social Media in 2010: Getting Smarter

2426454804_06648486e3It’s that time of year where the pundits predict the death of brands, the trends of new media and the upcoming changes in marketing.  I typically avoid these kinds of posts, but I wanted to weigh in primarily because part of my role at Rosetta next year will be to execute against the predictions.  This is going to be a fun year.

My one primary thought about social media in 2010: Social Media Gets Smarter.  We’re already seeing evidence of companies using social media more strategically. eMarketer‘s recent post highlights a shift in budget and a growing movement of how companies are leveraging social media in a smarter way.  I see social media becoming as sophisticated as more traditional CRM and marketing tactics.  I love studies like this one from comScore and GroupM that demonstrate the effect of social media on paid search results (50% increase in CTR on branded paid search for people who had exposure to a brand in social media – that is compelling alone).

The good folks over at Trendspotting have also assembled a list of quick, “Twitter-sized” tidbits on predicting changes in social media in 2010.  I am thrilled to be included in their list alongside some excellent predictions from folks who have inspired me in the last few years, including Chris Brogan, David Armano, Paul Gillin, Jason Falls and David Meerman ScottMarketing Hot Seat contributor Marc Meyer is also included.

Here are my predictions that show up in the presentation.  I’d highly suggest the read – Trendspotter did a great job keeping the content in an easily digestible format.

  • Social media tactics become integrated tools in the relationship marketing arsenal.
  • Companies struggle adapting processes for customer interaction in marketing, sales, customer service & PR.
  • Marketing programs focus more on activating brand advocates than general customers.
  • Social media monitoring industry consolidates and matures, drawing closer to web analytics.

Each of these probably warrant a post on their own.  I based my predictions on day to day what I am experiencing in terms of client demand in the social media space, but it’s one digital agency view.  What do you think?

Photo credit: greeblie via Flickr

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Marketing Hot Seat: Andrew Davis

hotseatA few months ago I had the opportunity to visit the offices of Tipping Point Labs.  After some great discussions on Twitter with Andrew Davis, TPL’s Chief Strategy Officer, we agreed to meet and grab lunch to talk further. I quickly learned how smart Andrew is.  TPL has a unique perspective on content marketing as a strategic platform to drive business results.  I thought Andrew would be a perfect addition and unique perspective to the Marketing Hot Seat, and I was right.

  • You’re the CMO.  You have a marketing budget of $1M.  Your company is a consumer product company, relatively unknown / early stage.  Customers who know the product like it. CEO wants ROI within 12 months.  What do you do?

The Client: Mimoco

Andrew DavisWhen Adam invited me to participate in The Marketing Hot Seat, I immediately started looking for the perfect ‘client’ to apply our methodology. As Adam specified I needed to find someone who was relatively unknown or early stage, but someone who had enough potential that we could move the dial significantly in twelve months or less. That’s when a friend introduced me to the perfect client: Mimoco.

The Product: Mimobots

Mimobots- MIMOBOT by Mimoco (Via Flickr)
Mimobots- MIMOBOT by Mimoco (Via Flickr)

Mimoco’s line of designer USB thumb drives are a geek’s dream. According to the Mimoco design team they have:

“…Fused the art of contemporary characters with the functionality of personal data storage devices making its name known in both the pop-culture driven Art Toy underground and the savvy high-tech ‘tronic world.”

Mimoco has a series of licensed Mimobots that include Star Wars characters and Hello Kitty (among others) as well as a full line of custom designed ‘bots’ for purchase at their web store. They also sell their products at ‘geek boutiques’ nationwide.

The Opportunity: Geek Chic

Even reading the Wikipedia entry for the term ‘geek chic’ hits home. It’s got all the ingredients for an extremely well-focused, niche-targeted marketing campaign. Extremely successful designers, developers and entrepreneurs fit into the category of ‘geek chic’ including the likes of Zach Klein (founder of College Humor, BustedTees and Vimeo,) the Flight of the Conchords and even comedienne Sarah Silverman.

The Plan: Embrace Chic Geeks

In order for something like Mimobots to generate a million more in sales, we’re going to focus on one, extremely well-connected community: those chic geeks. We must walk like them, talk like them and, most importantly, work with them to make Mimoco relevant in their world. Part of the allure of a brand like Mimobots is that the brand must straddle the divide between mainstream (read sell-out) and exclusive (always cool,) so mass marketing is out of the question. (Just look at what Johnny Cupcakes has built by exploiting this niche.)

The plan:

  1. Strategy – Build a strategy that focuses entirely on the Chic Geek market: the e-commerce platform, a content platform, strategic partnerships and even monthly custom designs by ‘famous chic geeks.’ We’re going to set some goals, build an influence pyramid, find the content opportunities and create an editorial calendar. ($120,000)
  2. Build – We’re going to reinvent the Mimoco e-commerce experience to focus on the designers behind the designs; to tell better product stories and to drive deeper relationships with the geeks we’re going after. We’re going to build a new digital universe and distribute content on channels that geeks adore (channels like Vimeo and Feedly.) ($250,000)
  3. Create – Using our editorial calendar, we’re going to create the best geek chic content on the web. We’ll profile the best of the best, partner with prominent geeks to deliver high-quality content designed to deliver on the brand’s promise. We’ll attend events, produce a weekly podcast, distribute weekly video content, shoot images and write – write a lot. ($300,000)
  4. Measure & Refine – Our strategy will remain intact while our tactics, channels, content and platforms shift. (Gone are the days when you can launch a website and walk away.) With weekly and monthly reports to measure our effectiveness the strategy team will refine the methodology. Perhaps we’ll try exclusive offers like or enhance the post-purchase experience with more geek chic on-device content. ($120,000)
  5. Create More – Invariably, content opportunities, new product development concepts and smart partnerships emerge the more we dive into the strategy. Perhaps something like printing a Geek Chic magazine (yes, we believe in the power of print) that includes a Mimobot with each issue works. With that in mind, the final portion of our budget is dedicated to exploiting those opportunities. ($210,000)

The Outcome: 90 More Sales A Day (On Average)

At the end of the day, our entire strategy will be successful only if we generate about 100 more Mimobot sales everyday (At an average of $30.00/sale). Will it happen overnight with a strategy like ours? No. However, we know that a powerful, underground brand like Mimoco has too much to lose if we grow too fast. With our plan in place, this time next year they’ll be selling 1,000 more Mimobots than they are today (enough to make up for the slow-grow strategy.) Guaranteed.

Let Andrew know what you think of his approach in the comments.  Thanks Andrew!

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Spread the Joy: A Little Augmented Reality and a Rosetta Snow Day

snowdayWhat do augmented reality, snowdays and New Orleans have in common?  A Happy Holidays card and helping to spread some joy from Rosetta.

Every year agencies of all types like to show their stuff with digital holiday cards.  Looking to raise the bar from last year, the Rosetta team is trying something new.  Our team took their passion for technology, social media and working for a good cause to dream up something fun – and we hope people find it to be a “different taste” from the usual agency card.  Grab your webcam and see what I mean.

Happy Holidays from Rosetta

What’s more joyful than catching snowflakes on your tongue?  If we catch a million snowflakes, on February 20, 2010, we’ll be in New Orleans providing some joy to local children at City Park: a snow day.  Read more at the card site, and I look forward to sharing stories of the joy from that event in a couple months.  Have a happy and healthy holiday season.

Note: We’ll be watching usage and looking to fix or upgrade features – would love your input on what we could improve.

UPDATE: The WSJ covered our holiday card today (“Stop Licking Your Monitor,” 12/15/2009).  My favorite quote is about “on-tongue recognition technology” from Rosetta partner Toni Hess.

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No Amount of Social Media Overcomes Bad Customer Experience


This is not a post to bash AT&T.

I know many folks who have had issues with their network, dropping calls and customer service.  I’ve had quite the opposite.  Sure I’ve dropped a call occasionally, but I actually switched to AT&T because they were the only service provider that had great coverage when I was traveling to a client in Ann Arbor, MI, years ago.  In addition to my Blackberry, I purchased a broadband USB card that has helped me tremendously while I have been on the road.  All in all I’ve been a pleased customer for nearly three years.

Where They’re Doing Some Things Well

On the social media side, AT&T has made some compelling strides over the last year plus.  For years they have been working with Seth Bloom (who I have met and think very highly of) and they took the leap to put him customer facing representing the company.  They have shown a good progression – starting with a Youtube channel and an engaging Facebook page, expanding to listening and customer service directly via Twitter, and making all the help more accessible via a social media landing page.  This week AT&T announced a new iPhone app called “Mark That Spot” – it allows customers to indicate when they are in a location with poor 3G coverage – they are listening to customers, and it’s a good start.  I’m not sure how many of AT&T’s competitors have made this much effort, frankly.  For a recent issue I had, @ATTNatasha reached out to me via Twitter and has been extremely patient, helpful and proactive in working to resolve the issue.  Just last week, when Natasha was out of the office, she asked @ATTJason to follow up on another request I had – he was professional, responsive and helpful.

Where The Experience Falls Short

ATTBillHere’s where my personal experience with AT&T fell down. In September I took a 2-day trip to Toronto, Canada, for a conference.  Before I left, I called customer service and asked for recommendations for voice, data and broadband plan changes that would help.  I put measures in place for each.  When I got back, I had a $6,000 bill.  My average monthly bill for all services is $250.

Over the next 6 weeks, I had many calls with Natasha and other customer service reps.  AT&T Billing (not Natasha) called me twice to threaten to disconnect my service while the September bill was in dispute.  Natasha was able to work out several credits offline through her supervisors, and continued to keep me posted via Twitter.  I really enjoyed working with her in this way – I avoided long wait times on the phone.  However in the end her supervisors told her that she could credit me only so much, they believe my broadband card was legitimately connected, and still invoiced me for $1300 worth of data and roaming charges in a two day period.  I have ample spreadsheets to keep track of the discussions and calculations we went through.

On my last call with Natasha, she delivered the news, and I immediately canceled my broadband service.  I already have a Verizon broadband card activated. I am actively shopping for cell phone service.  We agreed to disagree on the bill amount but considered the matter closed.  Two weeks later AT&T suspended all service to my cell phone and only reactivated after I paid the amount due in full.  I felt like I had no other option.

Here’s the point: No amount of interaction through Twitter or other social media outlets could prevent ultimately a bad customer experience and loss of a customer.

In the progression that AT&T has started in social media, a pivotal next step will be to integrate these customer relationships and interactions into their overall business process, with customer feedback being added to the product lifecycle, driving their programs and revamping their overall customer experience. I think I just lived at least a portion of what David Armano and Peter Kim are talking about when they preach “social business design.”

A disclaimer: Was user error involved? Probably – I may have left the broadband card plugged in overnight, which I have since learned is a quick way to rack up usage charges (even if not connected). I definitely did not download however many GB of data they have on record though. Was it worth AT&T to eat more of that cost to keep a long term customer? Apparently not.

Where have you had a bad customer experience?  Did the company try to use social media to overcome it?  Please no AT&T network bashing comments – there are plenty of other outlets for that.

Photo credit: dwfree1967 via Flickr