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CRM Vendor: Most Companies are Still Only at the Listening Stage in Social Media


This post was written by Nancy Lazarus, contributor to PRNewser.

That was the assessment of Esteban Kolsky, Principal and Founder of thinkJar, a customer relationship management (CRM) advisory firm.

Kolsky, a former Gartner research director, was speaking at a Visible Technologies seminar in New York entitled ‘Achieving Enterprise Social Media Readiness and ROI.’ Kolsky developed Visible Technologies’ model to calculate and leverage brands’ social media ROI.

Kolsky described the new social business strategy model as an end-to-end process. He said, “The first step is for companies to evaluate which of four stages they are in on the social media continuum.” Through a 13 question self-administered survey they can determine where their organization fits into the model:

Listening: informally getting feedback from customers about the company, competition and market

Learning: actively collecting social media information

Maturing using social media analysis and acting on insights gained from the information

Optimized: leveraging social media by making a corporate commitment to become a social business

Blake Cahill, Visible Technologies’ SVP Marketing, outlined his firms’ model for recognizing value from social media initiatives.

He said that social media revenues can be derived from a formula that calculates the impact, reach and yield. Savings can be realized in the areas of consumer insights savings, brand protection and call center efforts.

Cahill also offered a couple caveats. “Companies should recognize that the costs of social media, are primarily investments in people and technology. We also need to acknowledge that while a calculator helps to demystify the value of social media, it only represents a snapshot at one point in time.”

Overall, Cahill described social media as “An extension of what you’re already doing in marketing, and it can serve to amplify your results.”

Cahill also interviewed Christine Cea, Director of Marketing Communications at Unilever who oversees the company’s brand PR and social media efforts and is a Visible Technologies client.

Cea said, “The tipping point for Unilever in letting go of the brands was in February 2005, when we put Dove Cold Moisture in the hands of the show’s apprentices and let them create the brand. It was a risk to let go the first time but it led to building trust internally in our company. We realized that the brands could survive and benefit from it.”

Cea said that was the precursor to Unilever’s other social media initiatives. “Since then we’ve been evolving as customers have become glued to different screens. Our latest initiative is being a charter advertiser on the iPad platform.” In summarizing Unilever’s social media experience, Cea acknowledged that it has been a joint effort. “Our advertising and PR agencies have also become our eyes and ears in this area.”

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