LINC15 | How to bring back passion into Social Media #YesWeCommunity

(EN only) Sabine Hoffmann and Max Unger had been attending their first Lithium conference LINC15 for ambuzzador, being a partner of Lithium. Here is what they brought back: Total Community, the power of “we” and a lot of enthusiasm for reinventing the relationship between brands and their customers.

Once a year the community around Lithium, the world’s leading community platform, meets at San Francisco to celebrate grown up Social Media . What does grown up mean? Wait a minute: First of all we want to share our great experience at the beginning of the conference. Or, should we better call it a show?

Very impressive to have musical stars on stage for the kick off!

Back to grown up Social Media: Nate Elliot Vice President and Principal Analyst at Forrester Research discussed the declining faith of executives in Social Media, as the practitioners still can’t or better don’t prove that Social Media activities pay into Business goals, although there is a good recipe for doing so:

  • Study your audience´s behaviours & preferences
  • Define real business objectives (increase in loyalty and sales, reduction of service costs, shorter innovation cycle…)
  • align social-programs with non–social programs

Elliot divided Social Media Marketing into the following three disciplines, along the customer life cycle process:

Social Reach Marketing , a tool in the discovering phase, in order to drive people to the next stage in the life cycle: the exploration. The challenge is to identify the happiest and most influential people. Implementing an identification process instead of the good old “post and pray” strategy. Why not start with your employees, followed by your brand ambassadors.

When we talk about reach, we talk about a holistic Marketing approach, as the main reach channels are TV, Word of Mouth and SEO.

When it comes to the next step, close the sales , we talk about Social Depth Marketing. This is the most important phase for using social media, as a customer. It´s all about building trust, and this happens in the depth channels, the own website or online shop.

An excellent example is the Sephora community , where customers buy 2,5 times more, after having engaged in the community. Or even in the financial sector Consors Bank , showing a +30% conversion rate through their own community.

When it comes to aftersales, the power of Social lies in Social Relationship Marketing . The more or less traditional channels are brand sites, brand E-Mail and brand profiles in Social Media.

So the main take away is that we used Social Media so far not in its strongest phase in the customer life cycle and for Relationship or reach (when it comes to ads) mainly. So it is time to open the power of depth, by making the own website social. With the own community.

Although this was the opening of day 2, we decided to put that vision first, as we strongly believe in the Business Impact of Social Media. And we have seen a lot of that during the 2 days, such as

  • AT&T saving 3o Mio. $ by implementing their service community
  • Cisco saving 36 Mio $

BUT what we want to see in the next step is growth , such as

  • 30% of community visitors converting at the Consors Bank Community .
  • 80% of Sony customers that visited the community shop in the store.

Customer experience is the new currency

Rob Tarkoff , the CEO of Lithium opened Linc15 putting the customer first: “our customers will never be the same”. They changed forever. And WE will not be the same either. The Customer Journey has changed fundamentally, and we are asking ourselves who owns the customers? Marketing or Customer Service? Or will it even be the same? Rob Tarkoff quoted a market research study, saying that 83% of customer expectations are much higher than delivered, 60% of the companies don’t know how to please their customers and 79% of the products are commoditised. So we end up in competing on customer Experience (89%).

What does that mean in the context of a new generation, where 80% of the decision journey is driven by the customer ?

Rob Tarkoff, presenting the Customer Life Cycle of Generation NOW

Rob´s answer to these phenomenons is building the total community, as he shared as a vision and motto for Linc15.

The Principles of Total Community run as follows:

  • Know your audience : understand what is driving your customers when making their decisions.
  • Expand front line : socialise your own touchpoints, such as Website or Online store, in order to drive interaction. “Meeting customers where they wanna be met.” as Tom Karinshak , Head of Customer Service ComCast put it. 50% of customers expect to be able to conduct service conversations, says Sharon Reeves from Sky UK, who clearly give a multichannel service propostion, putting digital channels first, in order to scale and reduce costs.
  • Swarm questions : let your fans participate in building customer experience, especially in service. Answering questions does not only mean answering questions but visibility for searchers as well. “Solving customer problems solves revenue” , was the smart summary of Loree Draude , Google Social Engagement for AdWords
  • Integrate and extend : integrate one touchpoint after the other into the community. Not only solving problems, but also testing products or co-creating campaigns.
  • Design for outcomes : to see Business Impact in the end you have to build the structure for converting to real business goals.

One of the key questions is, what kind of skills we have to develop and how we motivate people internally to do their jobs in this new way. Our favourite answer was the answer from Fancisco Campos , Leroy Merlin (ES): “we select motivated people and use the community project as social talent factory.”

Our favourite quotes to describe “the new normal” as it is called, are again from Francisco Campos “We work WITH the client, not FOR the client.” and from giff gaff (an online MVNO) “We have members NOT customers, giffgaff is a movement.”

Finally Dr. Wu , the chief analyst of Lithium rounded the picture by reminding us of using WOW moments in customer experience for memorability only, and not to higher expectations, in order to avoid experiential gaps along the customer journey.

Max and me, we had a blast and will share what we learned on June 19, in an ambuzzador Social Fitness Breakfast.