Vincent Boon is the rather talented and Chief of Community/New Business Development at GiffGaff, the MVNO which has been praised for incredible customer engagement and taking it to fantastic heights in the UK. Naturally, that makes him a great choice as a judge for the Social Buzz Awards (there's still time to get an entry in - mail Nikki for more details and do it before Friday August 17 at 5pm (hint hint :-) )
Before he started looking at entries, we managed to get a few words with Vincent on social media, who is doing it well and what people/firms should be thinking of when doing it.
What got you into social media?
Playing computer games of course :)
Who does it well - either as an individual or company?
One of the best examples of using social media well is Sephora in the US. Their integration of Social and Community into the business and even the shopfloor is amazing and very effective.
Is it for every business?
No, although of course every business could benefit from customer feedback and engagement, some businesses are much more suited to mass engaging their customers than others. There has to be some need or pain in the business, or a dedicated customer/fan base, for a community to work.
Is there a lot of snake oil about over social media?
Only in so far as that there are people out in the jobmarket selling themselves as 'social media guru's' or equivalent, who unfortunately don't have the results to back their claims up. To get any real ROI just managing a Facebook page or a Twitter account is not enough. People who are hiring need to do some real research into what constitutes success for them, and hire accordingly.
There’s an old argument that PR/marketing/advertising should own social media - should any of them?
No one department should own a Community or Social Media. Your customer base covers all pillars of your business and can feedback or even help out on many different aspects of your business. So ideally a business would set it up as an entity in its own right.
Why is there such a fear over traditional ROI? Surely it’s the best metric to be using?
I never knew there was a fear over ROI. Aside from some people not being able to prove it that is.... :) Done well, a properly managed community's return will far outstrip the investment.
What are your favourite social media sites?
Facebook, Youtube, Reddit Videos, reddit.com/r/videos/ , TED, Twitter
In your eyes, what’s the biggest barrier to adoption of social media? And how would you tell people/firms to overcome this?
Fear of the unknown and not being able to control the situation or what is being said about you or your company.
Overcoming this is explaining that these conversation are happening out on the open internet about you or your company anyway. Better to have these conversation in an environment where you can address and reply.
If you had to choose one platform - for you personally - what would it be and why?
The perfect platform has not been invented yet, and likely never will, as technology or ways to communicate moves faster than platforms can be developed.
What’s the can’t live without App on your Smartphone (and what make is the phone)?
Does Gmail count as an app? :) SAMSUNG Galaxy Nexus
What’s the must-have Apps on your tablet (and, again, what make is it)?
iPad - Various games, most notably Zen Pinball
What motivates you when you’re down/seeking creativity - what’s the one thing that gets the brain going when you have to dig deep?
Given that the way most social media institutions - Facebook, Google, Twitter - are making their money is through the most traditional of ways - advertising - is this a failure of thinking? Surely if social media is such a paradigm shift, we wouldn’t be relying on advertising just like we have done since 1955?
I completely agree. There is awesome power in community and harnessing that is what represents real value. Hard to do, but totally worth it.
Should the phrase “social media” be abolished as there is so much to it - it can be linkbuilding, community engagement, community building, sales, SEO, blogging, gathering and seeding visual information - should we be at a stage now where people get to specify what part of this their talents lie in?
Within the industry there is certainly scope to change and define roles more accurately. However, I think we need to be aware that with many people within a company there is often still a lack of understanding about what we do and the different elements of what now comes under the header Social Media.
Companies seem to be concentrating their efforts on Facebook - is this a dangerous move?
Considering the companies that do concentrate their efforts solely on Facebook, do not own the platform and Facebook has a habit of changing things without giving (much) notice, it certainly would not be my preferred way of working. On top of which we have seen other Social Networks loose their member base, which means we have to at the very least consider this could happen to Facebook as well. So creating your own space where you can engage with your customers, as well as engage your customers on the platforms they currently use seems the smartest strategy.
A huge element of social media seems to be based around customer satisfaction but should companies - and customers - accept that you won’t always get it your own way?
Not all products or companies are for everyone. So there needs to be a realisation by the company as well as the customer that sometimes the company can't provide the solution in a way that is ideal for everyone. So tough choices need to be made and accepted. However if the company continues to work hard to incorporate as much of the feedback it gets from it's customers as it can, it will continue to appeal to a large share of them. But indeed, you can't satisfy everyone all the time.
Where do you see social media being in five years time?
(Hopefully) much more emphasis will be put on creating customer communities where companies will invest and heavily engage with their base, to change the way they work if needed, or at the very least allow their customers to add a lot more value to the company and their efforts.
For those thinking of getting into social media, any tips or pointers?
Get ready to work bloody hard!
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