This article originally appeared in the Feb. 2011 issue of Customer Interaction Solutions
Paul Dunay (News - Alert) is one of the foremost experts in social media marketing. He has been a keynote speaker on Facebook Marketing at a past ITEXPO and, until recently, he expertly handled social media at Avaya (News - Alert). Since I heard him speak, I realized he was someone worth watching in the social space. When I learned he recently changed jobs, I immediately posed a series of questions about why he changed careers and where social media marketing is headed. I hope you find his responses as useful as I have.
You’ve been on the forefront of social media in a B2B environment for years, what have you learned?
There are some great places to build a business case for Social Media in B2B – and some not so good places. The first place is obviously Social Customer Support, where there is a huge advantage for B2B product and services brands which requires monitoring and listening for brand mentions and reacting to them accordingly. Once we got this process down in my organization, I began to look for ways to use social data to make better business decisions, which is how I got to my new company.
With about 7k tweets and about as many followers, what advice can you give companies looking to build their social following?
Be interesting and be passionate about what you do. If you are a telecom outsourcing firm, talk about the interesting things happening in your space. Be the thought leader. Everyone loves to follow the leaders in life and on Twitter. That’s why are called followers!
I am beginning to hear complaints about social networking ROI in the B2B space. Do people expect too much from it?
It’s time for social to grow up. We are past the honeymoon phase with social now, and many firms are searching for an ROI. I used to hear this question constantly from marketers: “How do I calculate ROI on Twittter?” The answer I gave them was, “If you are posting press releases on Twitter, the ROI is zero!” Marketers were looking for a tool with which to measure ROI, but it’s really the “approach” that was the difference for me at Avaya. We used Twitter to service unhappy customers and make them happy customers. How can that be a bad strategy and how can that not have an ROI?
How should businesses measure their results effectively?
Measuring ROI of Social Customer support is easy – so easy even a caveman can do it. If you take customers who are unhappy and potentially ready to leave the company, and you delight them with your customer service via social media, that creates one less customer you have to touch with your marketing. So, 50 such instances, times your cost of sale, less any social media costs, and you are pretty much guaranteed an ROI.
That is where things get really interesting. I realized, after providing support via social media for two years, just how much data there is out there about brands. We have two solid years of data in social media, and it’s like the world’s largest focus group. There are ways of using that data (all publicly available) to make smarter decisions in marketing and advertising. For example, take the National Fooltball League lockout situation we are facing this week. Beer and car makers can use this data to find that same NFL audience in other places online, at a fraction of the cost. It’s a very exciting time to be in marketing!
You just became the CMO of Networked Insights – what can you tell me about the company?
The company does exactly what I was just saying above. I looked at the whole landscape of firms, from monitoring to analytics, and Networked Insights has some outstanding technology and is applying it for their customers in ways I never expected. What convinced me was hearing about how customers were making proactive decisions because of the social insights we provided, which was refreshing to me, since I spent two years reacting to social data. As I’ve always said, there is a big difference between data and insights.
What steps should every company be taking to get ready for the future online marketing and social (r)evolution?
You have to listen to your customers and react to them at a base minimum. Customer service is the new PR, so you need to have that down. In the mean time, start finding new ways to get social media into your new product designs, your R&D, your online media buying, your advertising. John Wanamaker was famous for a saying that 50 percent of his marketing was wasted, but he didn’t know which half. I think we just went through an explosion that makes it even harder to figure out what was effective, so targeting using social media is going to be a critical piece of the puzzle going forward to make marketing as effective as it can be. Right now, you are shooting in the dark, comparatively.
Rich Tehrani is CEO of TMC. In addition, he is the Chairman of the world’s best-attended communications conference, INTERNET TELEPHONY Conference & EXPO (ITEXPO (News - Alert)). He is also the author of his own communications and technology blog.
Edited by Stefania Viscusi