Here we are in the run-up to Christmas and the New Year, so I thought I would jot down the things that I found amusing, noteworthy or just plain strange about the business we are in for the past year. A personal list and personal opinions...
- The “John Farnhams” were interesting – those who had several going away appearances. Telstra retired on twitter and came back, they also retired a blog and came back. I admire their capacity to learn and persist. UBank retired a community and came back on twitter where I think they do a good job, as does their CEO. IAG ran a customer co-creation site for 6 months and came back with a shiny new company called The Buzz.
- The Echo Chamber that is Sydney’s social media ecosystem got larger, got its own association and we had a great evening with MC Hammer. Proved that a mix of alcohol, egos and twitter produce embarrassing tweets as pundits strive to prove who is cool. Thank god there is not a single customer involved to see us social media gurus behave like that… hang on, where were the customers?
- We had our controversies with the real Steve Conroy (Telstra again), a lost coat campaign and the world’s best job. I am not sure if the debate about being authentic or ‘pragmatic’ in social media did much to change anyone’s views, but it did focus my thinking on the Word of Mouth Marketing Associations code of conduct. ROI – be clear who you represent, state whose opinion this is and declare your identity
- Sportsgirl launched an online customer community with some fanfare and claims of being the first, while Woolworths quietly crossed the 150,000 participant mark on their Everyday Matters, Huggies engaged thousands of Mums, Wyeth relaunched their Mum’s Club and an inner circle advisor panel, IAG designed a new insurance company with several thousand savvy customers, Essential Baby and Bub Hub continue to grow, Hungry Jack’s Burger Club members critiqued chicken nuggets… phew, thank goodness, that’s where the customers are, looking for interaction with people like them, with brands they are interested in. Go figure.
- During a presentation for Jen Storey in Brisbane I had an epiphany of sorts. There is a reluctance in many Australian companies to open up and dialog with their customers through social media that exceeds any real regulatory compliance need. It is generally couched as ‘but what happens if they say really negative stuff and it flames out of control?’ When did Australian business get to be so scared of its customers? Should they be? If they really are scared, some honest introspection about why they are not fixing the things that would cause their customers to flame is called for, surely? Perhaps we need a few good dramas to kick start conversational marketing here – Dell Hell and the Comcast sleeping service man gave these 2 companies no choice but join the conversation and they are now both cited as the profit making social media experts. Companies genuinely determined to improve their customers’ experience and engagement love social media because it is an efficient and scalable way to find out what to do and how they are doing. Companies without the will to fix things, hoping that sucker customers will not find out until it is too late should be afraid of their customers, they can now tell thousands of their peers how bad their experience is with the organisation. Be very afraid or embrace customers for goodness sake.
- I had the good fortune to work with Estee Lauder in Asia Pacific during 2009. A really classy group of people passionate about their customers. I mention this because their social media campaign strikes me as one of the best and most innovative of 2009. Free makeovers and photos to produce the best social media image you can have for your profile. Clever and shows an understanding and empathy. (Not ours btw)
- Age of Conversation 3 – the book with 300 chapters each written by a different author from around the world was completed. Money raised goes to charity, so stay tuned and buy a copy once it is published please. Look for our chapter on how we think the old media folks are looking for a 30 second spot replacement as they search for the mythical ‘influential’ who can virally sell any product their clients retain them to sell.
- Don Peppers made a welcome visit to Australia to talk about customer loyalty and Woolworths’ Everyday Rewards. His message still resonates with marketers, but I suspect implementation has not got any easier for most of us.
- The role and responsibilities of the Online Community Manager justifiably received some attention and we participated in a good round table session with other community managers in the Fairfax Sydney offices.
- And finally, in 2009 we went through the process of getting certified by Satmetrix as Net Promoter Score practitioners. We have used NPS in our community management function for several years as a ‘bottom up’ measure of how well we are doing at keeping customers interested and engaged in our communities and programs. This certification (will, it completes in Feb ‘10) confirms our understanding and gives us access to the creator’s approaches and methodologies. It was also fun to see the implementation and organisational change processes we learned for CRM (and TQM before that) are still required if we want to move customers to the centre of our company decision making.
Merry Christmas and a prosperous New Year