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SXSW Panel Recap: Likeability, ROI, and Facebook Customer Service

By , March 14, 2012

SXSW Interactive wrapped up Tuesday afternoon, and interesting panels were held until the very last minute. Here’s our recap from Monday and Tuesday, with insight on topics very familiar to social teams: ROI, Facebook customer service, data, and engaging users authentically.

How to Be Strategically Unlikeable Online


Theme: Being active in social media doesn’t always mean brands are likeable. But being a likeable brand in the social space can have powerful, far-reaching effects. To illustrate this, Ogilvy’s Rohit Bhargava opened the session with a tongue-in-cheek, expletive-laced, 5-slide opening about the top things brands can do to be unlikeable –  a great illustration that being likeable makes customers love your company. (Panel description.)

Key takeaways:

  • As part of his opening Bhargava gave tips for being unlikeable – don’t pander to the lowest common denominator, don’t make the experience easy for users, create hoops for users to jump through, and tempt customers with cool products and then make it difficult to for them to access them. These are all, of course, things NOT to do.
  • What’s a likeable experience? Likeable Media’s Dave Kerpen said it’s all in the messaging. He and others gave examples about going the extra mile for customers – tweeting supportive messages, making bad experiences right through social media tools, and listening. Being likeable consistently generates stories about your brand that your customers share on your behalf.
  • Being personal matters – and it has an impact on business. The companies that continue to remain unlikeable will parish.


How to Harvest Consumer Intent from the Social Web


Theme: A full panel in a packed house touched on the topic of the interest graph, the web of personal interests and tastes that connect people to each other. (Panel description.)

Key takeaways:

  • The interest graph opens up new possibilities for marketers to give relevant content to consumers. It offers better chances to engage beyond demographic data available now.
  • Niche social networks are tapping into this trend, such as Pinterest, Polyvore, and Foursquare’s Explore feature.
  • Utilizing the interest graph requires a shift in perspective from “say and think” to “do and share,” said Farrah Bostic, Creative Strategist and Founder at The Difference Engine. “If all you are going to do is show, then all I’m going to do is look,” she said. Brands will move beyond engagement platforms and start using the data available to learn what customers are doing.
  • Although it’s early for this space, Mullen’s Edward Boches mentioned a few brands using these interest-based platforms well: ModCloth, Burberry, and FreePeople on Pinterest specifically.
  • The full slide deck for this panel is available in this recap from Boches.


What’s So [Bleeping] Hard About Social ROI?


Theme: The dilemma of analyzing social media ROI can be tricky. In a wide-reaching discussion, this panel touched on all aspects of the issue, illustrating that companies are still working out how to calculate ROI in a way that makes sense for them. (Panel description.)

Thoughts from the Panelists:

  • The process of calculating ROI will be different for each company. Craig Daitch, the U.S. social media manager for Ford, pointed out that with consumers waiting longer to buy new vehicles, the sales conversion for social media could be as high as ten years. Because of this, it strives to keep customers engaged for as long as possible, which he called “Return on Efficiency.” Petri Darby of the Make-A-Wish Foundation of America echoes this, saying that conversion is not always related to dollars; for Make-A-Wish it could include volunteer sign-ups, donated frequent flyer miles, etc.
  • ROI goals must be tied to overall goals. Whether your goals are engagement or sales, if you’re seeing improvement in those areas, you’re succeeding, said Liz Strauss, Founder of SOBCon and Inside-Out Thinking. It’s also not about the medium: “Is there an ROI to your telephone? “
  • Although it can be difficult to uncover the ROI, another question is: What is the ROI of not being active in social media? What if you suddenly turned off customer service?
  • The benefits of social media can’t always be given a dollar value. When customers who are upset about issues have their problems solved via social and a brand wins them back, that love can be quantified, Daitch said.
  • Finding the ROI of social media isn’t just a marketing or corporate communications function. The potential financial benefits of social media cuts across departments in an organization.
  • Each company will have its own set of metrics, but each can track correlations between social media efforts and the conversion goals it has.
  • Establishing baselines is important. Matt Ridings, Co-Founder & CEO SideraWorks: “You can’t know where you’re going if you don’t know where you’re coming from.”
  • On setting goals for social media: Look at past growth metrics to see what’s possible. Set incremental targets and assess what’s working and how much you’re moving the needle.


The Facebook Customer Service Challenge for Brands


Theme: Facebook has become a major channel for marketers and for customer service teams, which respond to customers who raise issues or have questions they share on Facebook Pages. The panel touched on ways to handle common situations and ideas on how to best interact with a high volume of customer inquires. (Panel description.)

Key takeaways:

  • 79% of consumers who share complaints had their complaints ignored. 56% of leading top 50 brands did not respond to single comment by customer on a Facebook page in 2011.
  • Molly DeMaagd, Customer Care Social Media Director at AT&T, said her team doesn’t only respond to customers, but tries to identify the reasons why customers took their issues to social media, in order to help fine-tune the overall customer service process.
  • The common adage is that “content is king.” But for LiveWorld’s Mark Williams, content is queen. The king is customer service. “The queen is the most powerful piece on the chess board, but the object is to get the king. When you lose your king, you’ve lost the game.”
  • On dealing with volume of customer inquires: DeMaagd prioritizes responses to stay on top of the firehouse of comments. Eric Ludwig of Rosetta Stone advised to have plans in place that range from setting response hours to sending comments to the department best equipped to answer that customer’s question.
  • Be careful about what you label a crisis, Williams said. Don’t underestimate a true crisis and turn an unimportant issue into a firestorm.
  • On the new Messages feature for Facebook Timeline: The panelists have not opened Messages yet, both because they do not have a strategy in place and also because Facebook has not allowed third-party tools to pull that data into social media platforms, making management of this new feature fully manual.
  • When identifying talent to hire for the social customer service team, look for stars within the current customer service department. Those with high customer ratings and who have good writing skills are great candidates, but passion for helping customers also plays a big role.
  • On responding to customers as named individuals or as the brand itself: You’ll see “higher engagement when talking about feelings, not facts,” Ludwig said. By personifying that brand experience, you tap into those emotions.
  • Give customer service equal time: Put as much time in your customer service strategy as you do your content strategy.

“The Facebook Customer Service Challenge for Brands” SXSW 2012

Missed our other SXSW recaps? You can read about other panels in our previous posts:

SXSW Panel Recap: Google+, No-Bullsh*t Branding, and the Power of Storytelling

SXSW Panel Recap: Brands as Entertainers, FOMO, and Interacting with Legal

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