The Social Phenomena

This social phenomena that started with Web 2.0 and accelerated with the explosion of FaceBook, LinkedIn and Twitter, is at its core a platform for communication, interaction and relationships. It will usher in a new era of innovation. Terms like crowd sourcing, the wisdom of crowds and collective Intelligence, all speak to the notion that innovation is not an organizational function, but the ideas of an organization, community, or society.

Social computing and new emerging forms of analytics allow us to create an environment for idea creation, and an ability to quickly capture the resulting insight. User generated content has long existed in the world of social media – and new ways to capture relevant insight are evolving. The growing use of social technologies inside the enterprise will better enable the environment for collaboration and idea generation.

In 2009, major brands pursued initiatives on Facebook, Twitter and other social channels and started producing soft and hard ROI. Forrester Research believes that 2010 will be viewed as the year where every organization came to realize the importance of social media. Gartner recently presented their list of strategic technologies for 2011, and near the top of the list was social Communications and Collaboration. It’s hard to argue with these analysts  when you consider the following statistics:

Twitter Sixty-Five percent of Global 100 companies have active Twitter accountsTwitter has 156 million registered users with 5.4 Billion updates per month

By the end of 2009, Dell generated $6.5 million in sales from Twitter alone

Comcast has helped over 150,000 customers through their Twitter account

31% of Twitter users follow a brand, with 7.8 million brand recommendations per month

Forty-one percent of companies have acquired a customer from Twitter

FaceBook There are over 500 million FaceBook usersMore than 45 Billion Pieces of FaceBook content are shared each month

More than 35 million users update their status each day at 695 updates per second

Over 1.5 million businesses have FaceBook pages creating more than 5.3 Billion fans

Coca Cola’s FaceBook page has 22 million fans

54 percent of Global 100 companies have FaceBook fan pages

Forty-four percent of companies have acquired a customer from FaceBook

YouTube In September of 2010, YouTube had 144 million users50 percent of Global 100 companies have YouTube video channels

People upload 24 hours of new video to YouTube every minute

LinkedIn LinkedIn has over 85 million usersForty-one percent of companies have acquired a customer from LinkedIn

On average 36.5 million people visit LinkedIn every month

One-Hundred percent of Fortune 500 Companies have executives using LinkedIn

Fifty percent of LinkedIn’s users are decision makers in their company

Other Starbucks generated over 50,000 product ideas through social channelsUS consumers made 500 billion impressions on each other last year

Forty-Seven percent of internet users ages 50-64 are now using social networking sites

Twenty-Six percent of internet users ages 60+ are now using social networking sites

The average age of social network users is 37 Years Old

Thirty-Three percent of Global 100 companies have corporate blogs

Major Social Media Channels Provide Leads to 40% of Companies

Forty-six percent of companies have acquired a customer from a company Blog

With the growing reach of social media and its ability to spread messages across many social channels, businesses can’t stay on the sidelines. We are clearly not talking about teenagers and college kids anymore. According to a study by the Pew Center’s Internet and American Life Project, the number of Internet users ages 55 to 64 on FaceBook has grown 88 percent in the past year.

New McKinsey research shows the benefit of social computing is arriving faster than expected. McKinsey identifies a new kind of company: the networked enterprise that uses collaborative social technologies to connect the internal efforts of employees, and to extend the organization’s reach to customers, partners, and suppliers. Results from their analysis shows that this networked approach is significantly improving their reported performance. They conclude that fully networked enterprises are more likely to: be market leaders, gain market share, and create higher margins through management practices that leverage the Web in more advanced ways. Their research indicates that many industries will draw new competitive battle lines between companies that use the Web in sophisticated ways and companies that feel uncomfortable with new Web-inspired management styles.

Businesses Weave Social into Existing Processes

With this as a backdrop, many believe that customer expectations will explode in 2011, as they seek to socially interact with companies and gain a deeper level of knowledge. This will drive companies to make the necessary investments to listen and respond to its customers in social channels. A growing number of businesses and organizations of all sizes will search for ways to tap the power of social media. Strategies will range from creating a Facebook page to more sophisticated social media initiatives such as building branded online communities. The need for social-media expertise increased dramatically in 2010 and will continue to grow as more people come to understand and recognize its value. The net affect is an explosion of job and consulting opportunities, as businesses need people with specialized skills. On the other side of the equation, talent will select companies who embrace social media.

The ripple affect within companies will be significant. Organizations will rethink their current business processes and struggle with creating enterprise wide change and integrating social strategy. To be truly conversant with social customers, companies will rewire their operations to be more customer-centered, more relationship oriented, and more transparent. They will seek to collaborate across departmental silos and weave social into business as usual. They will struggle to bring together social and traditional communication channels and processes to serve customers, to create better experiences for them, and to collect and analyze user generated content to better understand them. This will represent a large change management challenge.

Social CRM goes Mainstream

This growing social phenomena has spawned the Social CRM industry and 2011 is the year it makes its way into mainstream business. It transforms traditional CRM into a two-way dialog where the customer is the driving force behind what the company does and how it does it. Paul Greenberg is a leading authority on Social CRM, and he states that “Social CRM is designed to engage the customer in a collaborative conversation in order to provide mutually beneficial value in a trusted and transparent business environment”.

More socially-enabled products and services are emerging and companies are focusing on social CRM strategy and processes for improving the customer experience. Gartner supports the belief that social technologies will be integrated with most business applications and predicts this will occur by 2016. They recommend that companies bring together their social CRM, internal communications and collaboration, and public social initiatives into a coordinated strategy.

Social CRM offers companies a seamless and real-time view across the many different channels that customers converse in, including Twitter, Facebook, e-mail, chat, phone and others. Comprehensive strategies will bring impressive increases in the amount of customer service delivered over social networks. 2011 will be a significant year in the development of collaborative relationships and Social CRM as a corporate strategy.

The Future Call Center

Widely recognized CRM visionary Paul Greenberg published a report titled Contact Center 2011 – Back to the Future. Mr. Greenberg has talked about Social CRM or CRM 2.0 for quite some time. In this report, he discusses the impact of the social customer on the call center. In summary, companies are used to fielding customer complaints in environments that they control. But increasingly, they’re expressing themselves in channels beyond those provided by the company. We’ve become a peer-to-peer world. We rely on our peers; we trust them more than we do an advertisement or a customer service representative. If we can get an answer or a recommendation from a peer – we will. How many of us have been out to a forum looking for a resolution to one of our problems? A growing number of customers complain to their peers in social network channels like Twitter, FaceBook or other external user communities or threaded forums. 

New thinking regarding the customer experience is required. The move towards peer interaction implies a lack of company trust and eliminates company control. There is a need for improved service to accommodate the needs of the empowered, technology savvy customer that speaks to us through multiple channels. Companies will leverage two strategies:

  • The first strategy leverages a knowledgebase to provide answers to questions, and support issue resolution. This knowledgebase is accessed by CSRs using search, or customers via web services. The accumulation of knowledge will increasingly include validated answers offered in various social channels.
  • The second strategy leverages software to determine what the customers are saying. Several vendors provide social media monitoring solutions (Radian6, Attensity, Lithium and dozens of others).  However, all software is not created equally. Some solutions provide basic monitoring capabilities that tell you when your brand or product is mentioned. While this is useful, it does not go far enough. Software must monitor all channels, identify action, and initiate that action. A new breed of products that enable each of these phases is emerging.

Social Technology is Deployed Internally

The business use of social technologies is just emerging. Experts expect adoption to accelerate and to expand across business functions and industries. These social technologies enable collaboration and knowledge retention on a new scale. Their broad adoption will accelerate the need for analytics that automate the extraction of actionable insights from large volumes of user generated content (created both inside and outside the enterprise). The impact of social computing has had a profound effect on society, and now business is getting the message: social computing is not only good for business – it is a necessity in our competitive global economy. Businesses that embrace collaboration via social computing will have a competitive advantage over those that don’t. Several traditional businesses are reaping business rewards from social networking portals.  

  • The Lego Group uses online communities to identify and rally its most enthusiastic customers to help it design new products and market more effectively. 
  • Eli Lilly and Hewlett-Packard host online “prediction markets” that extract collective knowledge from online communities, which help them gauge whether the government will approve a drug or how well a product will sell. 

Social Listening and Intelligent Workflow

Companies today have the ability to drive workflow based on business rules; but those rules focus on structured data. If workflow is driven by the insight from both structured data and text, the intelligence in our workflows would be greatly enhanced. Insight alone is meaningless without action and driving workflow based on insight initiates action. In a scenario that is getting more common, someone makes a comment on a company’s FaceBook page and expects a response. The company is not proactively monitoring the page and the commenter is left to wonder why no one reached out. Negative sentiment is expressed for the world to see.

If an automated analytics process was actively monitoring various social channels and delivering insight, support requests could be routed to the appropriate support team. Expect to see considerable focus on enabling this scenario through social listening and intelligent workflow in 2011. Solutions will emerge that enable a customer care agent to receive relevant social media discussions across major social media channels that meet their areas of expertise for response. The number one use case that providers of social listening platforms are seeing is the triaging, prioritization, automating, and routing of customer tweets, status updates, and other information across the enterprise.

One thought on “The Social Phenomena

  1. You’ve really take the time to write an incredibly detailed article. It’s going to be very helpful to those who are looking for social media statistics.

    Working in this space and seeing how it’s evolved has been amazing. It’s always exciting to me to see companies embracing social media and taking the necessary steps to revamp their operations so they’ll be more customer/relationship oriented, and more transparent. I’m interested in watching which companies will emerge as thought leaders.

    Thanks for mentioning us!

    Trish Forant (@Dayngr)
    Community Manager | Radian6


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