Sheryl Sandberg–It’s All About The People

Sheryl Sandberg Facebook’s COO recently delivered a talk at the London School Economics on how Facebook is changing the world. In the remainder of this post, I highlight some of they key points from the talk which you can watch above.

Facebook has over 30 million users in the UK.

The most recent innovation of the web,  is the shift from information retrieval to social discovery. This is the birth of the social web. When you browse Facebook, you are not necessarily looking for a subject matter – you are open to responses from others (Facebook’s newsfeed). We live our lives in social discovery and not in information seeking mode. The information web isn’t dying, it is just evolving.

Today, we are seeing two fundamental transformational shifts from the information web to the social web.

1. On the social web – you have real identity and real personalisation, its entirely personal

2. There’s a shift from information retrieval to social discovery (this is how Facebook works)

We live our lives mostly in social discovery, not really in information seeking mode. The social web is powering us as individuals in a totally different way. This is why we think people are spending so much time on Facebook. The average user in the UK spends about 7 hours per month on Facebook.

There’s another shift from the wisdom of crowds, where everything is done based on algorithms to the wisdom of friends, where we listen to recommendations of people we value. The social web doesn’t just connecting us to people we know, but it connects us to people we don’t know in ways that make them really human. This is a shift from the “what to the who”. Every single day 15 million people connect, and 50 million people ‘Like’ a page. Marketers have always known that the best form of advocacy is friend to friend.

Social Media is Broken and HBRs Report Proves It

2,100 firms participated in a recent survey by Harvard Business Review Analytic Services, said they are either currently using social media channels or have a future social media deployment occurring. However, many still say social media is an experiment, as they try to understand how to best use the different channels, gauge their effectiveness, and integrate social media into their strategy.

Despite the vast potential social media brings, many firms seem focused on social media
activity primarily as a one-way broadcast channel, and have yet to engage, listen or analyse customer conversations and turn feedback into insights that impact the bottom line.

Clearly, most companies are still searching for the best practices and metrics so they can understand
where to invest and target their social media activities and build their own competitive

Google’s Analytics Evangelist Avinash Kaushik, says “Too many companies have not evolved from what I call ‘shout marketing’ — think TV, newspapers, magazine ads — to influence by initiating and participating in conversations with consumers,” he said. “There needs to be a generational shift”.

The highlights of the report follow below:


Graphic: Business Insider

Although 79% of the 2,100 companies surveyed are either using or planning to use social media channels, only 12% of surveyed firms feel that they are using them effectively. These were the companies most likely to deploy multiple channels, use metrics, have a strategy for social media use, and integrate their social media into their overall marketing operations. The “smart firms” are using social more often to promote their brand, monitor trends among customers, and even research new product ideas.  They don’t broadcast and spam, they engage!



Graphic: Business Insider

Two-thirds of surveyed firms have no formal social media strategy, and just 7% have social media into their overall marketing strategy. This is scary, and does show that some firms are still not serious about social. Even though 69% stated that their use of social media will grow, 61% admitted that they need to overcome a “learning curve” before adopting any kind of social media strategy. Sadly, 32% view it as a VP level priority – and nearly one in ten of the executives surveyed dismissed the business use of social media as a passing fad.



Graphic: Business Insider

Linking social media efforts to ROI, and understanding how it can bring competitive advantages still seem to be a challenge for many firms.



Graphic: Business Insider

Just 12% of the companies surveyed have hired dedicated employees to social media activities. Instead, social is mostly delegated to external agencies. “At the C-Suite level, they don’t want to talk about social media because they don’t understand it,” one executive admitted.



Graphic: Business Insider

Social is still seen as an experimentation.

As one executive put it, “Social media is a big ocean and we are pulling in a little bay where we are most protected.” The majority of these efforts (50%) are geared towards increasing awareness of the organisation or brand.



Graphic: Business Insider

The best firms understand that social is a conversation, not a broadcast monologue . Successful social media deployments examples include firms creating online customer groups and monitoring trends. They are twice as likely to use social media to poll their community and research new products.

Read Harvard’s complete report below.

Are you embracing your brand super fans?


Flickr Credit: Chrissy White

Are your customers satisfied, do they even care if your brand existed any more? With the infinite variety of goods and services, it is becoming harder to retain new and existing customers. One method of retention is through customer advocacy.

Harvard Business Review recently stated that customer advocacy strongly differs from satisfaction, or even loyalty. Advocacy can help a business to connect with its audience and build a relationship on trust. In turn, it can provide long term competitive advantage. So, how do you recognise your brand advocates? I find the term advocate rather boring. Therefore, I’m going to refer to advocates as super fans. Because, that is really what they are.

It is fairly straightforward to recognise your brand super fans, they are the ones that: 

Support the brand. Super fans will stand by the brand even in times of difficulty, they aren’t afraid to react to criticism or correct factually incorrect statements about the brand, and will purchase brand products as gifts for friends and family.

Actively promotes the brand. Super fans share their experiences via various social media, openly praise company employees both internally and externally, and provide unsolicited feedback on service and quality. In some cases, they consider themselves “brand protectors.”

Are emotionally attached to the brand. They have a sense of ownership in the brand. They will forgive shortcomings (such as price) when buying products, and treat the brand as part of their inner circle.

But how does one go about turning customers into super fans? Harvard’s article recognises the following points: 

  1. Silence detractors. Develop an environment where customers will not want to talk badly about a brand. 
  2. Build a solid and positive customer experience. Create consistent, coordinated interactions across channels to meet customer needs. Develop efficient internal processes, integrate data, and empower employees so customers are satisfied every time they interact with you. Satisfaction and loyalty are critical to the success of a business.
  3. Offer extraordinary experiences. Go that extra mile when customers least expect it, and in return you will receive their long-term business. For example, just as Zappos does.

The process of creating brand super fans depends on the level of customer engagement that already exists. For customers who are already engaged, you need to create emotional connections between them and your brand.

At AVG, we take our brand super fans very seriously. On our Facebook page, we actively recognise and reward those community members which are the most supportive of us.  We actively encourage, our fans to upload videos and photos involving AVG (as a brand) and we also share product experiences with the rest of the community. Some of our Super Fans will even record product testimonials for us.

To conclude, 21st century firms are the ones that actively embrace their community and work with their super fans to genuinely build the brand, build trust, the customer base, and the balance sheet. Those who chose not to, risk extinction in our increasingly social world. Food for thought.

Why Do Some Social Media Projects Fail?

View more presentations from BSI.

The Brand Science Institute (BSI) conducted a study lasting seven months and was conducted
in twelve European countries to understand what “What goes wrong?” when launching a social media initiative. 563 marketers representing 52 brands participated and this is what they found:

  • 81% of all companies don’t have a clear social media strategy!
  • Corporates tend to take twice as long as start-ups for social media projects
  • Only 7% understand the real value of customer interactions
  • Only 27% have a clear understanding of their customers
  • Social media projects are there times more under control
  • 73% had to show money after 12 months
  • 76% feel that legal departments hinder social media projects
  • 87% had to correct their social media expectations
  • 72% thought social media must be viral
  • 68% never heard of the 1-9-90 rule
  • 84% compare social media performance with standard media measures
  • 76% don’t moderate social media projects accurately (if at all)
  • Only 7% understand the CRM value of social media
  • 91% allocate budgets the wrong way!
  • 37% think that social media is a media buy
  • 53% were stepping into the geek-trap
  • 92% are not aware of their FB dependency
  • 71% take expensive upfront investments to secure technical functionality
  • Only 11% have social media guidelines
  • 86% don’t have a clue how to handle a social media backlash
  • Only 4% share their social media experience throughout the company

Personally, I am not too surprised with these results. It does go to show however, that a clear lack of planning and goal setting can result in poor results. If you had to benchmark your company with these results, how would it stand?

Twitter Updates Notifications


Twitter has started to upgrade user accounts with updated notifications features. The only problem is that you will now receive an email every time you receive a direct message, a reply, details of a new follower, updates when your tweets are marked as favourites and finally when your tweets retweeted! 

To avoid an inbox full of spammy notification emails, you can easily make a few small changes within Twitter’s notifications tab. If you don’t see the settings above, don’t panic. It just means Twitter hasn’t updated your account just yet. Just sign in to your Twitter account and go to the notifications tab within the settings section and untick the boxes that you don’t want notifications emails for.