As a preview to his presentation “Mo’ Problems, Mo’ Money: Customer Service Matters More than You Think,” Wayne shared insights on how social media is transforming the way consumers interact with brands.
Peggy L. Bieniek, ABC: How does Twitter help to shape the future of online social media? Wayne Huang: As someone with a background in both engineering and in social science, what I find most interesting about Twitter is how it has completely upended the way we communicate.
We’re used to jumping through hoops to talk to a human being at a company. It’s nearly impossible these days to find the phone number of the company you’re trying to reach. But, what strikes me most about Twitter is that brands actually proactively engage in conversations with customers, and not hide behind a maze of automated phone menus.
One of my most memorable Twitter experiences was when I once tweeted a question to Virgin Atlantic, and they responded to my tweet in less than three seconds. That was an incredible interaction that I’ll always remember. It’s a leveling of the playing field between big companies and consumers that wouldn’t have happened without social media.
PB: How does Twitter data help tell a marketing story? WH: Twitter is an incredibly rich source of data. Every day, close to half a billion tweets are sent. Search for any topic, and I guarantee you’ll find someone tweeting about it.
For brands, Twitter is like the biggest permanent focus group in the world, free for you to search to find what your customers really think about you. For example, John Legere, the CEO of T-Mobile, famously spends a ton of time on Twitter searching for what his customers love and hate about T-Mobile. He also responds directly to tweets from users, who were so shocked that he tweeted them that they’re now clamoring to switch to T-Mobile.
PB: How can brands do better on Twitter? WH: Companies should see Twitter as the public, human face of their brands. By human, I mean imagine that your brand is a human being, and imagine your social media conversations as real human conversations you’re having with other human beings.
For example, no one in real life actually wants to be friends with someone who just keeps blabbing on about how he or she is the greatest person in the world. Similarly, your Twitter profile shouldn’t be a one-way conversation where you just post links to corporate press releases or generic product shots.
Instead, engage with your customers. Post advice and tips. Answer their questions and respond to their tweets as quickly as possible. Retweet your users’ content, such as when they post a beautiful photo. Like your users’ content, and thank them when they give you feedback. That gives your users the feeling of a “win.”
It’s basic social reciprocity— just as we need to give and take in our daily relationships, so should brands on Twitter.
PB: What will people gain from attending your conference presentation? WH: Businesses often struggle to understand what their customers are really thinking. In my presentation, I’ll talk about the pitfalls of relying on self-reported surveys when conducting customer research.
I’ll then showcase a novel experiment we ran on Twitter where we tested how a good (or bad) customer service experience from a brand affects the customer’s future decision-making process.
In that experiment, we found thousands of users who had a customer service interaction with an airline on Twitter and how we quantified— in dollar terms— how the customer changed their behavior after those positive interactions. For example, after a good experience, is that customer more willing to fly the airline again? Or will they just default for the cheapest carrier?
We’ll also discuss some interesting findings from recent psychology experiments that businesses should adopt if they want to impress their customers.
Want to hear more from Wayne? Join us at the Marketing Analytics & Data Science Conference. Learn, network and share best practices with the most influential leaders in data science and analytics. Stay connected at #MADSCONF.
Welcome to Brilliance@Work, a series of profiles about stellar collaboration professionals and their best practices at work. Throughout May, we’ll feature Marketing Analytics & Data Science experts.
Earl Taylor is Chief Marketing Officer for the Marketing Science Institute (MSI) in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Founded in 1961, MSI is a nonprofit, membership-based organization dedicated to bridging the gap between academic marketing theory and business practice.
Read on to learn how Earl and MSI use quantitative and qualitative data to help their members stay on the forefront of marketing thought and practice.
Peggy L. Bieniek, ABC: How does MSI help to shape the future of marketing science? Earl Taylor: MSI’s corporate sponsors represent a cross-section of the U.S. business community. We continuously solicit input from our trustees and others who represent our corporate members about their most pressing marketing challenges.
Every two years, we ask our corporate trustees and leading marketing academics to prioritize these topics to guide our funding of academic research and the focus of our events. Results are summarized in our recently released 2016-2018 Research Priorities, which can be viewed and downloaded free from our website at http://www.msi.org/research/2016-2018-research-priorities//.
PB: How do you use big data to measure brand performance? ET: Marketing academics and MSI corporate sponsors are using big data in a variety of ways to assess marketing effectiveness and brand performance. Increasingly, datasets that link exposure to advertising and other marketing activities with outcomes such as sales and profitability allows managers to determine the exact effects of each element of the overall marketing mix and to allocate resources more efficiently and effectively.
Academic research supported by MSI has demonstrated that properly interpreted and weighted data from social media can be closely correlated with traditional brand health tracking metrics. In fact, social media can yield leading indicators of brand health, allowing managers to anticipate and respond to emerging trends (positive or negative).
MSI helped found and continues to support the Marketing Accountability Standards Board (www.themasb.org), which is dedicated to vetting and promoting metrics agreed to by both marketing and finance that can reliably demonstrate the value created by marketing and branding.
PB: How can data and analytics help tell a marketing story? ET: Most traditional quantitative market research relies on theories of consumer behavior that yield hypotheses that can be tested against empirical findings. The advantage of this approach is that results can be incorporated into a coherent framework for interpretation and application, yielding a cumulative body of knowledge over time.
With the advent of big data analytics using machine learning and other techniques, we can now efficiently discover patterns in data that we might not otherwise have noticed, but which can be interpreted theoretically and applied, thus advancing marketing science and practice.
Regardless of how they are obtained, insights are best shared the way humans have always communicated— through stories, personas and the like that allow managers to understand, assimilate and extrapolate from them as new situations arise.
PB: What will people gain from attending your conference presentation? ET: When data does not readily fit existing quantitative formats and analytics, it is often referred to as “unstructured.” In fact, datasets taken from social media, online review sites and the like are highly structured! Whether in real-time or asynchronously, exchanges in social media are variants of the structures that inform ordinary conversation where sequencing and context largely determine what a given contribution means to others engaged in the dialogue.
While certain insights can be derived from techniques that extract words or phrases and re-assemble them as word clouds, in many cases preserving sequential structure is critical to understanding what consumers are saying and why.
Drawing on sociological research, I will make the case that conversational analysis offers a distinct alternative to purely inductive big data analyses of social media. Importantly, findings on how information is conveyed in stories, jokes and other forms of ordinary conversation can also help us better communicate insights from all forms of quantitative and qualitative analyses.
Revisit Chat Republic, a “very young place with deep and diverse conversations; our constitution is a work in progress. Social media is the pervasive ‘software’ we use to hammer out the constitution.” Well said, Angelo!
What are your thoughts on Chat Republic? What does it mean to you?
Welcome to Brilliance@Work, a new series of profiles about stellar communication professionals and their best practices at work.
Veteran communicator Angelo Fernando has written about big shifts in advertising, marketing, media and education for the past 18 years. He has worked for Ogilvy and Mather and JWT, trained in broadcasting at the BBC in London and later turned to podcasting. He was a technology columnist for U.S.-based Communication World (CW) magazine published by the International Association of Business Communicators (IABC) and is now a technology columnist for Sri Lankan-based business magazine LMD.
Angelo is a prolific blogger of the Hoi Polloi Report, http://hoipolloi.wordpress.com, and a dedicated teacher who runs a computer and technology lab at an elementary school in Scottsdale, Ariz. He is also author of the recently released book Chat Republic: How Social Media Drives Us to Be Human 1.0 in a Web 2.0 World. This book addresses content curation, podcasting, crowd sourcing, ‘media snacking,’ and civic journalism, and interprets what all this chatter might mean for business, politics and the rest of us. For more information, visit www.chatrepublic.net.
To learn more about the intersection of technology and society, join Angelo as he presents “The Human Approach to Communication in a Web 2.0 World” at the Feb. 20 IABC Phoenix monthly professional development luncheon in Phoenix, Ariz. During this event, Angelo will share his insight from interviews with and published work by thought leaders at Facebook, Ogilvy, the Occupy Wall Street movement, the U.S. State Department, Google, and Intel. Attendees will have the opportunity to purchase copies of Chat Republic at a discounted rate. Register for the luncheon at https://www.eventbrite.com/e/iabc-phoenix-luncheon-human-approach-to-communication-in-a-web-20-world-registration-10123801563. For more information, visit www.iabcphoenix.com.
In the meantime, read on as Angelo shares his insights on “how we ought to be more authentic even as we embrace the tools that turn us into non-stop communication machines.”
Peggy Bieniek: What interested you in this particular topic? Angelo Fernando: I am a big fan of the spoken word and audio over video. As all NPR and public radio listeners know, conversations are powerful ways of exchanging ideas.
PB: How have your personal experiences influenced your writing?
AF: I was coaxed into writing for a business magazine. It was a big shift from being a copywriter at an ad agency (JWT). Advertising forces you to consider your audience. Writing for print media forces you to tell a story and consider how your story is received months after you submitted it.
PB: How did you come up with the title for your book? AF: I was always amused hearing people repeating the phrase “If Facebook was a country” as if it was a thing to revel in. I have also been fascinated by the power of conversations and the spoken voice that, minus cameras and other distractions, conveys much, much more.
PB: What is the main message you want your readers to understand? AF: My overarching message is that we risk losing what makes us human by being so distracted that we prefer to scan headlines in 140 characters, rather than dig deep into the issues. We risk losing the art of listening because we are busy thinking how we may craft the next ‘tweet burp.’ After reading my book, I hope my readers reconsider what goes on in the name of marketing communication, PR and corporate communication.
PB: What kind of research did you do for this book? AF: I spoke to many IABC-ers and scoured social media literature for some powerful ideas that have been ignored. Ultimately, Chat Republic is about being social, not media machines, so I looked at historical uses of communication to see what made early communicators so engaging. I couldn’t resist some of the contemporary events that make us so digital and so analog – revolutions and diplomacy for instance – because they shed more light on the ‘Republic’ motif. Communication is now in the hands of the hoi polloi(the common people).
PB: What were your goals and intentions for this book, and how well do you feel you achieved them? AF: I wanted to say the things that tend to be unsaid in many of the social media literature. I also wanted to give readers a balanced view of how social media is being used outside the Americas as I was born and schooled in south Asia. I was fortunate that Chat Republic launched in Sri Lanka first (it was a lucky accident – long story!). My launch events were run by the Marketing Institute and an ad agency. It was extremely well received by the marketing, media and advertising community, including a very active population of social media practitioners. The CFO of Saatchi and Saatchi in Greater China (who reviewed the book) ordered copies for the Singapore office staff.
PB: What makes your book stand out from the crowd? AF: This is not a how-to book or a ‘Dummies’ style book. Chat Republic takes a deep dive into the issues behind social media and examines whether our transition into digital is helping or hurting us. I spent a lot of time footnoting the ideas and commentary so that anyone could go into these issues even deeper. And yet, I am told, it is a very fast read.
PB: When you hear from your readers, what do they say? AF: Someone told me this was a book she wished she wrote. Many have told me that they were once skeptical about all of these areas and now find that they could approach social media with a lot more context.
PB: How has the growth in digital media affected corporate communication? AF: Corporate communication will never be the same now that the hoi polloi have as much influence and ‘transmission’ power as Big Business. At the very least, digitally connected citizens (and by this I also mean customers, stakeholders, etc.) have forced corporations to be better listeners. It could also be a nightmare learning to live with a lot less control over once watertight corporate functions such as branding, positioning, product design and customer service.
PB: How can we help our organizations become more human in a Web 2.0 world?
AF: We need to encourage organizations to rebalance their digital and analog efforts and let their people be human first and digital second. It is unfortunate to see how some organizations have no way to be contacted via phone because they rather you send an email or a text message.
PB: What is the biggest thing that people THINK they know about social media, that isn’t so? AF: People like to believe that the one or two tools they use are the only ones that matter. On the other side, you get people who believe that everyone in social media is vain and that connecting via social media is an accident waiting to happen.
PB: What is the most important thing that people DON’T know about social media that they need to know? AF: That this thing we call social media was supposed to make us more social; that it could make us better antennas, not loudspeakers.
PB: What are some other emerging media you see on the horizon? AF: First, social media fatigue, for sure. People are going to ignore or cancel many of their social media accounts. Our brains are not wired for so much information. With that said, the emerging media might be those that are not intrusive and even those that scale down our network to the few who matter. There’s a reason why Path (which limits one’s network to 50), and Snapchat (which lets shared images disappear after being viewed) are gaining traction. I’ve also looked into an alternative to LinkedIn called Somewhere.
PB: What are your current projects? AF: I’m a teacher. I am passionate about getting students to stop being mindless content consumers and start becoming content creators. As such, my days are filled with incorporating digital media into education and my classes, even while I try to help them balance their digital and analog lives. I’m just starting on an ambitious series of lessons on coding, blogging, and teaching first-graders to use microphones and Audacity. Audio is a great way to get them to speak, to share and to engage with each other. I’m also a robotics coach and am toying with a book on robotics.
PB: What are some of your favorite resources for content curation? AF: Wikipedia is still one of my best content curation sites, warts and all. I love Story Corps and Storify. One the podcasting side, I’m fascinated by SoundCloud.
PB: What is your contact information for questions, comments and ideas? AF: Email me at email@example.com. My Twitter handle is @heyangelo. I’m happy to share this information, and I look forward to hearing from your readers.
What best practices in communication would you like to share in future Brilliance@Work profiles? What are your ideas for topics or people to be featured in upcoming profiles?