SXSW13: Insights from the Social Commerce Summit -
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SXSW13: Insights from the Social Commerce Summit -

Aarti Shah

Of course, data and mobile emerged as the dominant themes at the W2O’s Social Commerce Summit, now in its third year. Interestingly, the event -- chock full of implications for PR -- was populated mostly with those sitting in marketing and digital at their organizations. Built around a series of 10-minute presentations largely from W20’s clients and partners -- including Verizon, Intuit, Hersheys and Sysomos -- the event was held the day before SXSW Interactive kicks off. Here are some of the notable highlights:
  • Ken Burbary, chief digital officer at Campbell Ewald, and Chuck Hemann, director of analytics at W20, lamented the poor state of digital analytics tools, calling for a Consumer Reports guide to sort through the hundreds of tools options available. Burbary pointed out mobile analytics is being treated very much like web analytics in its nascent days, meaning it is being used mostly for measuring eyeballs on mobile sites. He challenged the crowd to think more critically about mobile, for instance to track what’s working offline (via online coupons) or how campaigns are triggering behavior (via email tracking).
  • Hemann reiterated digital data’s value should extend well beyond PR and marketing and if you’re collecting information, you should be thinking of how it can be used by HR, customer service, product teams, etc. Ultimately, this led to his take away point that legacy CRM systems must integrate with social and digital analytics. Hemann and Burbary have a book, Digital Marketing Analytics, coming out in the next few weeks.
  • Lori Johnson, VP of online strategy at Fidelity, laid out four purposes for social media at Fidelity: distribute content; customer service; to answer industry questions; to enable customers to speak on their behalf. In fact, after finding that most customers are more likely to sign-up for Fidelity based on peer reviews, they built their own review platform on the site rather than having prospects go to third-parties, in this case, like Kiplinger’s. I asked Johnson whether customers trust a brand’s review platform and she told me Fidelity is currently researching this very topic. Alas, she said the findings are unlikely to be made public. She also said that while the reviews are vetted before being published, inappropriate content and unverified users, are the only reasons a review would be deleted.
  • I noticed many of the brands at the event didn’t house social engagement with communications. For instance, Johnson said social media has recently been incorporated into the digital marketing group (formerly part of the digital group responsible for web builds). In fact, PR only oversees the social media engagement with media -- not the general public.
  •  Adrian Parker, part of Intuit’s social, mobile and emerging media team, compared social engagement to marriage in what was, no doubt, the most entertaining presentation.
  • Hershey’s David Witt aptly predicted, social will be the CRM of the future. Also, he pointed out paid is slipping into earned, especially as more opportunities for sponsored media emerge.
  • Anthony Price, VP of digital and relationship marketing at Michaels, said there’s an assumption that all communication vehicles should be used for promoting, but not to underestimate the value of inspiration that platforms like Pinterest can provide, or as he said, “creative therapy.”
  • Devon Eyer, director of corporate comms and social media at J&J, said there’s still organizational education that needs to happen, but marketers shouldn’t expect adversarial relationships. She works closely with J&J’s legal team to get the “yes, if…” greenlight on social media.
  • Mark Stouse, VP of global connections at BMC, pointed out that “communications” is an outdated title because it implies a one-way relationship. He also advocated the power of predictive analytics, acknowledging there’s a “spooky” element to it all.
  • Andy Ellwood, senior director of biz dev at Waze, raised an interesting objective at the traffic navigation company. They ask themselves, “How do we save people five minutes a day? That’s 30 hours a year, extrapolating that to 250 million Americans means that we can decrease CO2 emissions by 1% in the US.” Imagine the PR opportunities there.
  • Jeben Berg, lead innovationist at Google, pointed out that users will research products more than any R&D group and marketers should consider ways to leverage that. He commended Oreo on its quick response to the Super Bowl blackout, adding that brands should take on a newsroom mentality but this shouldn’t require more than 5% of budget.
  • Darin Wolter, EVP of global sales at Sysomos, warned audiences that vanity metrics don’t work anymore and clients are demanding business impact metrics. Yet, the three main challenges to achieving this are: data overload, data inconsistency and siloed teams. Fair enough.
For videos on the day’s events, you can find them on WCG’s blog.
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