Category Archives: Radian6

Nestle’s Facebook meltdown

Oops. Nestle, or whoever runs their Facebook fan page, stepped on a social media landmine this weekend with this update:

Nestle: To repeat: we welcome your comments, but please don’t post using an altered version of any of our logos as your profile pic – they will be deleted. Fri at 2:26am

Nestle received 190 complaints within 24 hours on Facebook, and thousands of tweets reaching hundreds of thousands of consumers. You see, the surest way to tick off users of social media is to delete their comments. Yes, by the old standards of 20th century law, brands have a right to protect their intellectual property. But social media comprises fluid networks of users sharing and retweeting and mashing up material. Brands no longer command media channels or the spread of memes; if you want to win, you have to give users room to play.

Here are highlights from how it played out:

Paul Griffin: Not sure you’re going to win friends in the social media space with this sort of dogmatic approach. I understand that you’re on your back-foot due to various issues not excluding Palm Oil but Social Media is about embracing your market, engaging and having a conversation rather than preaching! Read and rethink! Fri at 2:51am

Nestle: Thanks for the lesson in manners. Consider yourself embraced. But it’s our page, we set the rules, it was ever thus. Fri at 2:53am

Paul Griffin: Your page, your rules, true, and you just lost a customer, won the battle and lost the war! Happy? Fri at 2:56am

Nestle: Oh please .. it’s like we’re censoring everything to allow only positive comments. Fri at 2:58am

Darren Smith: Honey you need new PR Fri at 3:20am

Jagos Golubovic: I was a big fan of your products, but now, when I saw what you guys wrote, I think I’m gonna stop buying them. Fri at 3:55am

Helen Constable: I’d like to know if the person writing the comments for Nestle, actually has the backing from Nestle? I doubt it. Even a dumb ass company like them would get such an idiot to be their public voice. Fri at 4:10am

Nestle: I think you missed out the ‘not’ there, Helen Fri at 4:12am

Hyra Zaka: is a nestle rep running this page????? Fri at 4:39am

Nestle: We welcome debate, @Hyra – from any opinion. It helps us to know what people think and feel. Fri at 4:44am

ymann Lee: WFT !!!! This firm is a ugly creep !! trafficking and now censorship of my personal life. it seems pretty nazi !! Fri at 5:19am

Fernanda Shirakawa: I’m not using your logo… Fri at 5:55am

Fernanda Shirakawa: You deleted my comment anyway… Fri at 5:57am

Damien DeBarra: What a total train wreck. Sorry Nestle, but you really don’t seem to get it do you? Social media provides you with an opportunity to engage with your customers – to listen to them, to show that you actually care about ethical issues in business. Sadly it seems you have precisely the opposite attitude and seem determined to be as aggressive, patronising and corporatist as you can. And practically guaranteed that folks will now start shunning your products. Fri at 8:00am

Mark Watts-Jones: Oh dear, oh dear, oh dear. Case study in how not to engage with your customers. We’ll await the inevitable apology and climb down. Fri at 11:06am

Nestle: This (deleting logos) was one in a series of mistakes for which I would like to apologise. And for being rude. We’ve stopped deleting posts, and I have stopped being rude. Fri at 1:29pm

(Update: The prelude to all this was a coordinated Greenpeace attack on Nestle’s Facebook page, which helps explain why the FB community manager was defensive; Jeremiah Owyang has a summary here.)

Sometimes it makes sense to ignore your customers

Social media gurus suggest listening to customers is everything. We say it’s not.

If you pan out and look at the five real forces that drive competition, customers are only one — and the way they feel about you at any time is often not the most important factor guiding your future decisions. Yes, user-content platforms such as Twitter, Facebook, blogs and YouTube provide marketers a chance to eavesdrop on conversations; add listening tools such as Brands Eye, Radian6, ScoutLabs, TruCast, or Umbria and you can watch the “sentiment” or vibe about your brand rise and fall like a weather report. Of course you should listen for flare-ups, and if sentiment falls suddenly and sustainably, you have a structural problem in your business that must be addressed.

But consider the things consumer sentiment could not have predicted:

1. The near-death of Detroit. As late as 2005 and 2006, Americans were still in love with SUVs and big trucks. Spiking oil prices and Wall Street-fed recessions were just about to strike, but an automotive planner of the time, if given the chance to listen to consumer needs, would have designed flashy huge new trucks. GM failed because it did what customers wanted in 2005, and its business ecosystem shifted two years later.

2. Cameras on cell phones. When these first popped up, people laughed. The New Yorker ran a cartoon showing a guy complaining he had just taken a photograph of his ear. But the version creep expanded and built the platform for today’s iPhone-app-styled smartphones which do almost anything.

3. Employer-provided health insurance. David Goldhill noted last fall in The Atlantic that our modern U.S. healthcare system in which most Americans are covered by insurance from their employers was an accident of law. In 1954 Congress passed legislation making employer contributions to your health coverage tax-deductible, meaning it was cheaper for your boss to pay you in health benefits than to pay you with a wage. The incentive of a tax benefit led to today’s insurance culture, which most people like … yet no poll or “listening in” of consumers in the 1950s could have predicted this sea change in an industry.

4. Airline baggage fees. Perhaps the best current example of something consumers say they hate but love to buy is airline tickets. Supposedly add-on surcharges for blankets and baggage are despised by today’s consumers. A simpleton could fire up Radian6, hear the complaints, and change the pricing strategy. Yet that would wreck an airline business — because the reality is consumers shop for tickets using online aggregation services such as Travelocity that compare ticket price points as commodities, and choose the cheapest fares they can find for Hawaii. By leaving some costs elsewhere, an airline makes its ticket price on the web comparison sites look more attractive. If any airline removed surcharges, it would have to add perhaps $100 to each ticket price, and that uncompetitive price point on Expedia would crush its sales.

People talk, but talking isn’t the same thing as what drives their action.

Yes, consumers are smart. Yes, your business should to listen to them. But raves and sighs about satisfaction today are just a small drumbeat in the competitive forces that shape your industry. Social-media monitoring is a powerful addition to your toolset, but beware any consultant who tells you that listening to your customers’ whims today gives you all the answers you will need for tomorrow.

When we have telepathy, who will own your mind?

Who owns your social graph? According to Super Bowl fans, anyone can. According to Forrester Research, only your employer — or at least your boss owns a big chunk of your personal human network.

We’ll start with football. On Sunday ad shop Mullen and social-tracking service Radian6 captured up to 0.7% of all tweets with their clever BrandBowl 2010 advertising portal. The site, if you missed it, used Radian6 monitoring to rate chatter about Super Bowl ads. But beyond buzz, BrandBowl also illustrated an agency and software firm co-opting the Super Bowl social experience.

What did Mullen and R6 really do? They didn’t take over the sports brand. And this wasn’t about content. They borrowed someone else’s audience. And if you think about it, far more than a brand or product, an audience is the most valuable thing anyone can create, because only your customers are a source of inflowing value.

Social networking has destabilized customer bases because now anyone can find a way to pull an audience to their own hub. In the past, the only way to watch a national football game was to dial in to the correct TV channel; today, Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, Vimeo, LiveFyre, and soon Google Social Gmail create fluid hubs that carry conversations elsewhere. A smart marketer has an opportunity to build an axis that spins another brand’s existing audience. Or, in financial parlance, it is now possible to steal someone else’s customer stock portfolio.

Forrester says, no way

Many businesses with customer equity, such as Forrester, aren’t keen about this. When the superbly talented Jeremiah Owyang left Forrester last year to move on to a consulting role, Forrester asked his replacement, Augie Ray, to shut down his prior marketing blog and only post comments related to marketing on the official Forrester sites. It’s hard to peek behind Forrester’s curtain but outside data shows traffic to its main web site down about 50% from summer 2009, so we understand why Forrester is building a wall. Augie appears happy to do so and has defended Forrester’s policy as a basic intellectual property agreement.

According to 20th century business logic, Forrester is absolutely right. IP produced by employees, or even the client roster an employee builds while working there, should belong to Forrester. But the real question of Forrester’s wall is not who owns content or IP, but who controls an audience. Augie’s past blog, according to Quantcast, reached about 1,200-2,400 users per month — not a large crowd, but likely highly influential in the marketing industry. The real risk for Forrester is Augie becomes the next go-to social media star like Jeremiah and then leaves, taking his fans with him.

So who is right? If the issue is not your product (services, methodology, thoughts, blog writing) and really your audience network, should a brand be able to own that as well? What if the audience is following your persona as the center more than the illusory corporate brand?

It’s a serious issue because as networking technology improves, you, dear individual, will become the center of everything. Another Forrester ex-strategist, Charlene Li, has proposed social media will soon “become like air“. Imagine Facebook in the year 2030 when a chip in your ear and webcam on your wrist allow you to post videos of your every thought to everyone in the world, and social media approaches telepathy.

Who owns your mind and its human connections then? And can you take your own brain with you when you change jobs?

It’s been said open systems flourish and closed systems stagnate. Social media systems, on the other hand, simply rewrite the rules of business.

Mullen tells you which Super Bowl ads work

If you want to learn if a $3 million pop on a :30 second spot while overweight men wrestle in spandex is worth it, social media can explain the reaction. Last year, for instance, Teleflora won the Super Bowl. The flower delivery service had a 14-fold lift in online mentions on Twitter after its ads ran during the big game, while chatter about many other brands that advertised went down.

This weekend, ad shop Mullen and social media monitoring service Radian6 will expose buzz to the world with a web site tracking which brands get the most chatter after their Super Bowl ads run. Mullen creative chief Edward Boches explains it wasn’t easy:

“We’ve studied lists of spots and scoured the web for any information that would help – celebrities appearing in spots for example – and then created combinations of words to increase the likelihood we don’t grab anything that isn’t a comment about a commercial. In addition we’ll monitor the game throughout, modifying keywords based on the storylines in the commercials.”

There are now scores of services that watch social media buzz, usually focused on quantity of chatter and “sentiment,” or whether the talk skews toward love or hate. On the plus side, it’s cheap consumer research; on the down, it remains to be seen if short spikes in consumer interest — such as the waves of response in social media that typically crest and fade within two weeks — really influence sales. Ken Burbary, digital strategist at Ernst & Young, has compiled a comprehensive list here, and many of the tools are free. It may be worth seeing how your brand scores among the public, too.

Seth Godin makes a portal play for social media

Today there are at least 60 paid systems and 34 free tools to listen in on social media. Radian6, Techrigy/Alterian, Icerocket, ScoutLabs, even Google offer ways to track blogs, tweets and videos about your brand. Picking the right tools to manage all this is enough to scare any marketing director.

So Seth Godin has an idea — why not build a simple web portal for your brand that collects the top online chatter about your business, and gives you a forum to respond? And better yet, why not pay Seth Godin $400 a month to manage it? Godin has launched Brands in Public, a simplified view of consumer conversations about you, and an easy way for you to respond when crisis hits. The only challenge we see is how to get consumers to visit your Godin page to check responses; Godin says he is running the equivalent of $500,000 in house ads across the broader Squidoo network to promote it, but good luck with that. Still … it’s intriguing that Godin has made the dashboards public. If you are curious about any brand’s buzz in social media, you can hit the Brands in Public for a free peek. Heck, don’t tell Seth, but you could even use it for competitive research.

Want to look yourself? Here’s how Trader Joe’s is using it.

Image: Mare Bowe

Tweet Adder: Should you game the Twitter system?

Imagine the telephone was invented in March 2006, and now, three years later, marketing executives remain confused by this startling technology. “It’s a network to communicate with people, but only if we know their numbers? And they have to answer? So how do we make money off this?” the CMOs ask.

Ah, but new software promises to help marketers identify phone numbers of prospects, and then schedule automated phone calls every hour. Executives relax. “We can do robocalls! And at X percent response rate, we’ll make money!”

Sounds good, right?

Twitter, invented in March 2006, is becoming just such a robocall wasteland with software services such as Tweet Adder promising to help you “CAPITALIZE on the NEW Twitter phenomenon very quickly.” This is not necessarily good or bad; ethics, after all, are just agreed-upon levels of moral values, and if you have to sell like most of us do, then outbound contacts are not above you. Ad consultant Michael Gass has a detailed post about how to use these software systems to identify business prospects and then ping them with automated tweets; he pushes 373 old blog posts through two Twitter accounts trawling for leads. Some of the world’s most innovative businesspeople, such as VC dude Guy Kawasaki, fill their streams with useful links that appear human but are really scheduled with automated broadcasting software. Tweet Adder refines this approach by allowing you to identify people who work in certain industries; for example, you can follow everyone who in turn follows @mayoclinic to develop a target list of doctors and hospital service line execs to pitch for your ad agency or technology service.

Automation vs. authenticity

Go too far down this path, though, and you risk losing authenticity. New users often see Twitter as streams of random thoughts, but soon patterns emerge — people going @ateachother, carrying on conversations, debating ideas, sharing information. Within any active Twitter user’s base of 2,000 followers there may be 50 or 100 people who develop a close-knit communication club. Your expertise may be noticed by other firms, and PR people, and the business press. Authenticity is the way to build trust in that audience, and any whiff of automated salesmanship is the surest path to erode it.

If you just want to use Twitter to sell, by all means, build 50,000 followers in your target industry using tools like Tweet Adder and then robotically broadcast your blog posts with, say, SocialOomph. You’ll be spraying bait into fish-infested waters, and some may bite. But if you want to be known as a human being, you can always play the network like a real person. Your social network growth will be slower, but someone important out there may take notice … and give you a call.

Image by Tranchis. Hat tip to Edward Boches.

Google launches future search

Say you’re a wine distributor looking to enter the Spanish market. You could conduct research studies of consumer interest, or pour over industry sales stats, or try to peer into competitor advertising plans.

Or you could just punch up Google.

Google has launched Insights for Search, which attempts to use historical data from millions of consumer searches to predict what people will want tomorrow. The service helps marketers choose advertising messages, predict seasonality in demand, look at geographic variances in interest (say, which areas of Spain want which wines), and even scrutinize competitor brand positioning.

Can Google search engines keep up with search?

Why would Google migrate from being a cash-generating ad channel to a complex research tool for marketing executives and advertising agencies? It’s likely a defensive move to shore up Google search demand. The world of search is changing rapidly; Twitter allows real-time search of consumer conversations; Radian6, SocialSense and PeopleBrowsr help marketers monitor broad networks of social media; YouTube is becoming an enormous search portal filtering the equivalent of 86,000 full-length movies uploaded every week; the Google Book Search project can search the full text of 10 million books. And big hurdles remain, particularly how to filter queries for video, the fastest-growing form of online content which typically doesn’t have searchable text or tags, or mobile, with 4 billion phones in the world filling up with apps that give consumers other ways to get online than through the Google front door.

Sergey Brin wrote in Google’s last annual report, “Perfect search requires human-level artificial intelligence, which many of us believe is still quite distant. However, I think it will soon be possible to have a search engine that ‘understands’ more of the queries and documents than we do today.” Predicting the future is one step. With Internet access becoming as fragmented and commonplace as wall electrical outlets, we wonder what the future holds for Google search.

Image: Sebastien B.

SocialSense: Finding conversations you don’t know you need

One trend in social media is plugging in with new listening tools to figure out what consumers are saying about your brand. Radian6 and PeopleBrowsr track buzz with all sorts of stats, using Boolean logic around certain keywords. If you’re Pepsi, you can hunt for Pepsi + Love, Pepsi + Hate, and find the key influencers on Twitter and elsewhere saying great or awful things about your brand.

But what if something out there is happening/tweeting/chatting and you’re not smart enough to search for it? Say, what if you assume people talk about oral hygiene and what people really reference is a toothbrush?

SocialSense is a new platform that, yes, tries to make sense of this. The service has three features: The ability to segment small or large chunks of social media to only listen to the people or outlets you think have real influence over your brand; some media planning tools helping marketers identify sites with highest relevant conversations; and our favorite — the ability to surface conversations related to your brand that you didn’t think to search for.

Moving beyond keywords

“A lot of monitoring tools are very keyword-based,” says Derek Hornsby of Networked Insights, which launched SocialSense 2.0 in July. “But if you look at trending topics on Twitter, there are all these conversations out there, and it is very difficult for any one person to get anything relevant to their campaign.” In one example, a mobile handset maker did not think to search for the term “roaming” — but roaming was a main theme consumers brought up when talking about cell-phone service, and elevating it to the marketers’ radar allowed them to find new intelligence they would have otherwise missed.

SocialSense cracks the “discovery” challenge by using AI-type algorithms to find themes in conversations related to your brand, product or service, and then alerts you when a concept you did not expect begins to explode. It’s an intriguing idea, finding things you didn’t know you need. Now if only it could predict what we need in tomorrow’s stock market.

Image: Lepiaf Geo

Smashing guitars on the tarmac? United, call Radian6.

Here’s one more reason why your business should monitor social media. Musician Dave Carroll watched in horror from his plane window while luggage guys on the tarmac broke his $3,500 guitar. So he posted a musical to YouTube yesterday spilling the beans on United; the video already has 15,000 views and is trending fast. The most interesting stat: the YouTube video has spawned 950 comments, most with similar angry stories about airlines customer service. As Darryl Ohrt notes, this is not the kind of viral any business plans for.

Convo Monitor: Who knew so many chatted about chocolate?

We think social media (Facebook, Twitter, your fax machine) is a better listening vehicle than an advertising channel. To test it, click over to Convo Monitor, a free service that helps you listen in on communication streams inside Twitter related to any keywords. Twitter, of course, is just one social media tool — software such as Radian6 will let your organization listen in on millions of blogs, news feeds, and social media sites to identify the influential consumers who either love or hate you.

In fact, Radian6 is probably listening to this post right now and getting ready to comment. Damn them. Have we no privacy?

Via Darryl Ohrt at Brandflakes.