Social Media in the Queen City of the South

19 Aug

This past Monday, I had the privilege of attending Social Fresh Charlotte. Being my first Social Media Conference, my expectations were beyond high, 150 on a 100 point scale. For the most part, the conference was a delightful community of information. Surrounded by people who do what I do, know the lingo and whose eyes don’t glaze over when I talked Twitter for more than five minutes, was an almost Utopian experience.

After 13 pages of notes, I decided not to overwhelm you with every detail I found interesting, but I would like to share somethings I learned. The Dalton Agency sponsored my trip to Charlotte and the conference, so I would like to thank them for making this happen. Now to share some wisdom from the 28 or so, Social Media speakers:

Your Social Media Toolset Panel: Most impressive award goes to Justin Kistner, his humor and insights were an instant success. Some sites he mentioned will be further featured in an upcoming Fascinating Links post. For now, the biggest takeaway from this panel was a decision tree concept and thoughts on interns.

Decision Tree: a three-tiered system in place for Social Media engagement.
Scripted (tier 1): Be sure to have FAQs written out, including operating hours, locations, further contact information.
Guidelines (tier 2): Responses for negative/positive comments, influencer responses, gauging escalation
Expert (tier 3): Knowing when to ask someone more knowledgeable. Who is the contact for certain levels of expertise within a company?

Thoughts on interns: Generally speaking, the panel was against hiring interns to engage directly with the public. Speakers were insistent employees must truly understand the business in order to engage with the audience. The ability to delegate and understand context and tone were points touched upon.

The Social Media for Customer Service
panel contained some heavy hitters in the brand world: Doubletree Hotels, AT&T, Sprint and Bank of America. The main idea from this panel was that customers just want to be heard. Customer service tools mentioned were CoTweet, Radian6 and Salesforce. Only having experience with Radian6, I can attest this is a great monitoring tool. Another tip was to be sure to post your policies such as disclaimers about what comments are acceptable, when comments will be deleted and hours of availability. In the Bank of America policy examples, the department makes sure to let customers know never to send sensitive information through Facebook or Twitter.

Web Video for Marketing panel has an impressive body of work: Happiness Machine, The New Dork and Fiesta Movement videos to name a few. Most agreed, the biggest misconception with web video is that it’s cheap and easy to do. Jonathan Kay from Grasshopper spent a few weeks establishing relationships and emailing numerous people that would benefit from what his company was doing. There is more to a video than filming and putting it on YouTube. Make sure there are embedding options on all the videos you upload and if someone guarantees you a viral video, you should run were the other two points the panel touched on.

The Keynote Speaker, Amber Nasland from Radian6, is writing a book about how not to do Social Media entitled The Now Revolution. She made a lot of excellent points. Mainly, the takeaways were all your employees are brand ambassadors, set your social goals and crisis response plans are imperative. One of my favorite quotes from Amber was “You are not in Social Media to be a rock star.” I look forward to reading her new book as well as her recommendation to read Drive by Daniel Pink.

I must admit the Social Media Agencies panel was disappointing. Being from an agency, I thought I would get the most from this group. One of the values of Social Media is transparency and I felt these guys were not. An attendee asked about pricing structures and would like an estimated range for Social Media products. Everyone on this panel outright avoided specific answers. Most stated they charge by the project, not the hour, but I felt this could have been handled a bit differently. Aside from the general vagueness, I learned the best way to interact with multiple “players” on a client account is to play nice, the Social people have the data and be sure to educate clients. I would like to mention, I appreciated James Andrews’ sense of humor and Ted Shelton’s assertiveness and expertise.

The last event of the day, Managing Social Media with Limited Resources, also had an impressive group of brands: Duke Energy, GM, USA Today and Phonebooth. David Thomas was the moderator and did an expert job complete with a digital presentation of each speaker. No one had used this in previous panels, so I thought it was a great addition. These panelists have a very small staff in Social Media, as well as limited budgets. Some great tips were: Train to monitor and be a coach, essentially helping everyone in your company with learn social monitoring and encouraging them from the sidelines.

This was a spectacular experience for me and I’m very thankful to work for a company who understands the power of knowledge. Please let me know if you have any questions or would like specifics on anything I’ve written.


13 Responses to “Social Media in the Queen City of the South”

  1. Katie Morse August 20, 2010 at 12:03 pm #

    Thanks for the kind words about Radian6! I missed some of the sessions you outlined above and found the panel’s take on interns intriguing. I’ve been noodling on this for awhile as there are certainly pros and cons to involving interns in your social media programs and outreach efforts. I think the real question comes down to purpose – are they able to reach out with proper guidance, or is it overall a bad idea (and if so, why?). Are companies relying on them to set strategies, or execute on a task level?

    I’m still thinking about it but would love your opinions!

    Community Manager | Radian6

    • stephanieburt August 20, 2010 at 1:44 pm #

      Katie, I’m not as closed to interns as the panel seemed to be. We have a two person Social department, so we tend to rely on some intern help at times. In fact, as I type this response, we have an intern visiting with us. I feel with the proper training/coaching interns can be utilized, but I did agree when the panel stated the enthusiasm and passion need to be present. Thanks for taking the time to comment, much appreciated!

  2. Ted Shelton August 24, 2010 at 5:27 pm #

    Thanks for the kind mention and kudos — I agree that the panel could have been better (we were missing the moderator) but I disagree with the point about pricing. I actually find this to be a really difficult topic because companies have radically different expectations from things which on the surface may sound like the same thing. The challenges you face with different companies are also different depending upon the size of the company, the existing community around that company or product, and even whether there is an existing set of people who don’t like the company.

    That having been said, I think we could be more specific in giving an example and then stating the price for that example and then giving the caveats… though it would have gotten very long!!

    Here is an example:

    We find that it costs us about $100 to actually get a live response from a real person when we are asked to do “blogger outreach.” This is a blended cost that includes research to identify people who would actually be interested in whatever the outreach subject might be, contacting them in a personal manner that respects their privacy, interests, and limited time and patience for people “pitching” them, and typically following up with them once in case our message was lost in a spam filter.

    That doesn’t mean it costs $100 to get someone to say “yes” to your pitch to have them evaluate your hairspray — the live response from a real person might be “no – and take me off your list.”

    So (here comes the caveat) what do we do when a client asks us to get 50 food bloggers to contribute recipes to a cookbook (as we recently did, chronicled in my community engagement presentation at Social Fresh, slides here — )

    We estimate based upon the nature of the request and the community we are contacting how many people are likely to say NO to how many will say YES. To make it more complicated we also adjust two other factors around how many people we have to find in order to get a good list to contact and how many we contact will respond at all but for the moment lets keep it simple.

    In the case of the food blogger agreeing to contribute a recipe, we guessed most would agree (seemed like a positive thing to participate in) so 2 in 3. So based on the simple model it would cost us $150 each to find a blogger willing to contribute a recipe or $7,500 to get 50 of them.

    For extra credit, then estimate how many of the 50 will fail to deliver, so then you need to get 55? 60?

    You can see how estimating the price of a social media project is still an ART and not a science… and thus a very hard thing to answer on a panel!


    Ted Shelton, CEO

    • stephanieburt August 25, 2010 at 8:31 am #

      I’m honored you too the time to respond to my post. Thank for the explanation on costs. It is a difficult subject to wrangle. I personally felt general estimates would have been greatly appreciated at the conference, though I am very appreciative of your response now. The blogger outreach example is something I didn’t think about putting a pricing structure on. I look forward to seeing more of your work! Thanks so much, Stephanie

  3. Eldridge Scafuto September 1, 2010 at 10:38 am #

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    • stephanieburt September 15, 2010 at 8:18 am #

      Thank you for the kind words. Very happy you enjoy it!

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  6. Social Media Guru September 16, 2010 at 8:22 am #

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  1. top 8 – links of the week « ★ star candy ★ - November 23, 2010

    […] blog posts that I’ve found super helpful and informative about Social Media. I did attend the Social Fresh Charlotte conference earlier this year, which was just as informative. Very appreciative of their […]

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