Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Lessons Learned At #Blogwell

I attended #Blogwell as a live blogger! Read my posts:
InterContinental Hotels Group: Inside Out: How Private Communities Catalyzed Our Social Media Efforts and Intel: Listening, Learning, and Changing.

Things I learned at #Blogwell:

1. Start somewhere. Marketing execs at Kaiser, Chevron, IHG and Intel all shared that they picked one platform and did it well. Chevron chose LinkedIn and excelled in connecting with energy industry people. Kaiser responded well to negative compalints on Twitter. IHG started private online communities to get deep feedback. Intel collapsed 250 Facebook pages into one in order to have control of their FB presence. Each company began listening to their customers and responding through a platform that worked for them.

2. Even the huge companies don't have giant social media marketing teams, rather they grow as they find they have need. These big companies use trial and error too. Social media is changing and growing so fast that the even marketing pros are setting goals and seeing how it goes.

3. Big brands have found a hard truth: integrity matters. I was surprised how often phrases like "integrity" came up at a marketing conference. Speakers openly admitted the temptation of cooking reviews or offering promotion programs without proper disclosure. I can see the lure: a fake buzz can be measured by numbers (albeit very shallow numbers). But the point was driven home: be honest because it actually works, which leads to point 6:

6. Find better ways to measure engagement, such as benefit to customer or company, or feedback channels. Numbers don't always tell a lasting story and it's important to stay on to of what's out there about your brand. Speakers spoke about actually reading through posts or tweets, even laboriously. Execs at Intel were reading 200 blog posts per hour to understand what was being said about a product recall. Kaiser discouraged only monitoring by keywords by showing an example of two tweets with keyword fails. They were something like:

Been waiting at Kaiser for an hour. Awesome.
They are so quick at taking blood at Kaiser they could be blood burglers.

Only a human reader could understand the sarcastic "awesome" in the first tweet and the positive remark about "burglers" in the second. :) Marketers must read to understand!

4. All these companies proved one thing: make your job easier by enlisting the customers. You already know they are social and talking about your brand, but given opportunity, your customers will be more than willing to give feedback, content and pictures. IHG got rid of generic stock photos and collected customers' own pictures instead. Customers were excited to share. That's what community is all about, right?

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