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What are you waiting for? Smart retailers already foster real relationships and make real money by going social-local

The Financial Times recently posted a story with the headline Retailers wait for Facebook to deliver. In the article, the authors (Barney Jopson, David Gelles, and April Dembosky) discuss the discouraging results seen by retail efforts on Facebook:

Even as US Christmas shoppers have spent record sums online this year, one of the biggest disappointments for some internet entrepreneurs has been a company that is otherwise hot property: Facebook.
Retail executives and consultants say Facebook has yet to take off as a retail platform, defying excited predictions that “social commerce” – jargon for shopping via social media sites – would be the next big thing.

While the article makes many good points about how social commerce, or “F-commerce” (“F” for “Facebook”), hasn’t yet lived up to the hype, there’s a concept missing: the value of social-local retailers.

Co-founders Clara Shih and Steve Garrity created Hearsay Social two years ago on the foundation that social media will best work for businesses at the local level. Retail marketers should use their global Facebook or Twitter page to build brand awareness and make themselves more personable to fans, but they won’t have a truly social business until their businesses engage social at the local store level.
It was Clara and Steve’s original vision when Hearsay Social launched and, today, more and more marketers are opening their eyes to the possibility of local. Just look at this selection from marketing experts ClickZ’s six predictions for social marketing in 2012:

4. There will be less content with a national focus and more localization. Studying data from clients that are corporate franchises with hundreds or thousands of local stores, we found that their social media efforts gained the most user interaction when they had a local focus.
Localized content – be it a geo-targeted Facebook ad, a region-specific contest, or even just a tweet highlighting a local news story – creates seven to 10 times higher levels of engagement than non-locally relevant content. We expect to see more brands target and personalize their social marketing content at the country, region, city, and designated market area (DMA) level to optimize user participation.

Many large companies have already realized the importance of maintaining a global corporate page on Facebook, Twitter, and other popular networks.
Once those companies start going local on social media, however, it will be like shaking hands with actual customers, not just splashing catchy billboards along the freeway. From a retailer’s perspective, going local means creating individual social profiles and pages on all the most prominent networks (from Facebook to Google+) for individual franchises in small towns and cities across the nation.
As corporate pages focus on bolstering brand, these local franchise pages can work toward doing real business, like driving in-store traffic with coupons and other rewards programs. The local pages will see higher engagement, as they can provide content hyper-targeted to customers in their region. And, as this is the basis of all good business, local page owners can actually foster real relationships with real people.
Real people spend real money, and that’s where you’ll see the biggest impact of ROI on social business.

Celebrating Hearsay Social momentum

We’re two weeks away from the beginning of the new year, two months away from the first anniversary of Hearsay Social’s launch, and today I am excited to share several milestones  that highlight our astounding customer momentum.
Since our company launch 10 months ago, we’ve powered more than five million social media interactions between businesses and consumers over 16,000 social profiles and pages. The vision my co-founder Steve Garrity and I began working on three years ago has evolved into a thriving company that serves the world’s most prominent companies in the financial services, insurance, retail, restaurants, automotive, real estate, and direct selling industries.
We’re also growing our first-rate leadership team by bringing on Rob van Es as VP of Global Sales and Amy Millard as VP of Marketing, two of the most sought-after sales and marketing leaders in Silicon Valley.  Both Rob and Amy have decades of experience, respectively, at high-profile businesses like Fortify Software (acquired by HP in 2010) and Netscape.
Our continued product innovation includes recently launching as one of Google+’s first brand page partners, making Hearsay Social the only enterprise social marketing platform with full integration across every major social network. We continue to push the envelope on what’s possible for the social enterprise, as we have been from day one.
Last, some personal news.  Starbucks announced today that it has named me to their Board of Directors. I am incredibly humbled to be joining a diverse board that includes Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz, J.C. Penney CEO Myron Ullman, III, and Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg.
Not just a top global brand respected for its ethically sourced, high-quality coffee, Starbucks has also emerged as a distinguished social media innovator in the retail industry. Joining the company’s already strong board, I hope to help guide Starbucks toward further successes in the social media sphere.
All in all, 2011 has been an amazing year for Hearsay Social. With the help of Steve and our unbeatable team in San Francisco, New York, and Chicago, Hearsay Social will only drive for bigger and better accomplishments in the coming year.
Continuous product innovation, evolving thought leadership, and endless dedication to our customers’ success–that’s the game plan for Hearsay Social, still the only provider of enterprise-class social marketing.
Read the full Hearsay Social press release.
In the news:

  • All Facebook: Facebook COO Leaves Starbucks Board, Hearsay CEO Joins
  • Forbes: Starbucks Names Hearsay Social’s Clara Shih to Board of Directors
  • Fortune: Coffee Talk with the Newest Starbucks Board Member
  • TechCrunch: Twenty-Nine-Year-Old Hearsay Social CEO Clara Shih Joins Starbucks Board Of Directors
  • AllThingsD: Hearsay CEO Clara Shih Named to Starbucks Board

Hearsay Social for Google+ Pages: Manage your corporate-to-local brand on the big four networks

This morning we are delighted to announce that Hearsay Social now supports Google+ Pages, allowing Hearsay Social customers to effectively manage multiple local business profiles on Google’s social network for the first time.
Since the launch of Google+ Pages last week, our customers have expressed interest in using Google+ and its Circles feature to grow their brands and books, and deepen customer relationships. Customer feedback is critical to driving our platform roadmap, so we jumped on the opportunity to partner with Google+ to fulfill those requests. This morning Google+ announced that Hearsay Social was selected as one of just a handful of industry leaders for the trial API release and partnership.
Our brilliant engineering team has worked diligently to ensure that Hearsay Social’s core product modules are supported in Google+ from day one:

  • Hearsay Social Content Publisher for scheduling posts and campaigns across brand and local pages
  • Hearsay Social CRM for deepening local customer relationships
  • Hearsay Social Compliance Module for FINRA and SEC compliance and infraction monitoring (used by financial services customers)
  • Hearsay Social Analytics to roll-up metrics across every brand or local page

When Google+ first rolled out a public beta over the summer, several forward-thinking organizations built company profiles–but these were soon shut down by Google+ because it was not yet ready for non-individual users on its network. Last week the social media-savvy companies returned, but this time their profiles were allowed and encouraged.
Here’s our Hearsay Social Google+ Page:

Be sure to circle us and we’ll return the favor!
From driving brands to embrace local pages, to integrated social media campaigns and customer segmentation through Google+ Circles, we affirm our commitment to keeping your organization at the forefront of social media innovation.
Additional resources:
Announcing Hearsay Social for Google+ Pages, Corporate-to-Local Management for Top Brands
Five things the biggest brands need to be doing on Google+
Create a Google+ Page

Hearsay Social CEO Clara Shih at ad:tech New York: "7 Habits of Highly Successful Social Marketers"

Welcome to the Facebook Era.

Today, over 800 million people actively log into Facebook to connect with their family, friends, and favorite brands. The statistics are similarly mind-blowing on the other big networks: there are over 200 million users on Twitter, 130 million on LinkedIn, 40 million on Google+, and 10 million on foursquare.
Quite simply, businesses can no longer ignore the social media explosion. And they know it: 73.5% of U.S. companies consider social media a top priority, according to Forrester Research. Companies are no longer simply theorizing about social media potential, however, as evidenced by Burston-Marsteller data that shows 65% and 54% of Fortune Global 100 companies to already have a presence on Twitter and Facebook, respectively.
For today’s Chief Marketing Officer, getting a grasp on social media can seem like a daunting task, but it doesn’t have to be. For my keynote today at ad:tech New York, I’m presenting on the “7 Habits of Highly Successful Social Marketers.” Because I wasn’t sure if I’d be able to get through all seven, I’ve published them here in full, complete with tips, tricks, and the Hearsay Social superhero:

  1. Establish home base
  2. Your job as CMO is to build your brand and engage your audience. Well, when Internet users spend over 22 billion minutes each day on Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter, it’s hard to engage anyone unless you’re actively participating in the social media space. You may not necessarily have to dedicate full-time resources to every single social networking site, but you do need to have branded corporate pages on the ones that matter most. A national coffee brand like Starbucks, for example, benefits immensely from having a place where customers can come find them and give feedback on their experiences. Not only that, but Facebook pages, Twitter pages, and the like are excellent places to link to and send ad traffic to. Establish your home base and users will find you on social.

  3. Claim your pages
  4. You’ve created your corporate brand page and you’re sending out messages, so you’re work is done, right? Wrong! Many brands will quickly discover that there already exist hundreds, sometimes thousands of rogue pages on social sites created long ago by either customers or employees. On Twitter, for example, an insurance company might find that their agents are already actively engaging with clients, with or without approval from management. On Facebook, a retail company has to deal with positive pages (“I love Coca-Cola!”) and negative pages (“Coca-Cola sucks!”) alike. Taking control of your brand on social media means claiming your name wherever it already exists.

  5. Get local to drive sales

  6. Once you’ve established your corporate presence on social media, it’s time to get local. Customer loyalty and acquisition is best accomplished at the local level, because that’s where the strongest relationships are built. And social networking is all about relationship building. For retail stores, this might mean exploring the power of check-ins by offering deals and promotions. For gyms and health clubs like 24 Hour Fitness, one of our key customers, generating leads and fueling traffic to local centers is essential to driving conversions.

  7. Integrate social media across marketing mix
  8. “Social by design.” That’s the latest mantra we’ve been hearing from COO Sheryl Sandberg and other Facebook executives on how CMOs should approach the new world of marketing. Sandberg described a perfect example of “social by design” at the Association of National Advertisers convention last month: Huggies ran a campaign in Hong Kong where people could upload their baby photos to the brand’s Facebook page, and then the brand used the photos in ads on buses and subways. The campaign led to a 4.2% increase in market share and “by far the best quarter in Huggies’ Hong Kong history,” according to Sandberg.
    Personally, I like to think of social media as a spice. Like salt and pepper, social media must play an integral part in every dish you cook up, be it an email or print campaign or something else entirely. It’s not just another layer, it’s not a separate division, it is a pervasive spice that should flavor everything you do.

  9. Learn and live by the new metrics

    Just like we had to “invent” clickthrough rate and CPC a decade ago in the Google era, we have to come up with new metrics for the Facebook era. It’s meaningless to just measure engagement—number of likes, comments, posts, tweets—unless you can tie it all to the bottom line. We’re not just stumbling in the dark, though. Avinash Kaushik, the Digital Marketing Evangelist for Google, recently outlined four distinct, measurable social media metrics for CMOs to use: 

    • Conversion Rate = # of Audience Comments (or Replies) Per Post
    • Amplification = # of Shares Per Post
    • Applause Rate = # of Likes Per Post
    • Economic Value = Sum of Short and Long Term Revenue and Cost Savings
  10. Corral the chaos
  11. With all of the moving parts, people, and regulations, it’s critical that your organization can scale automation and do a lot with a little. Farmers Insurance, one of our most successful clients, managed accomplishments as outstanding as breaking the Guinness record for Most Likes on a Facebook Page in 24 Hours, and all with a social media team of one.
    Instead of assuming that you need a massive social media team, partner cross-functionally and engage multiple departments at your organization, from IT to legal to compliance to customer support and beyond.

  12. Prepare for the future
  13. The last (but certainly not least) important part of marketing in the Facebook era is realizing that the space is in a constant state of flux.
    For example, at Facebook’s f8 developer conference in September, the company announced Timeline, a major revamp to the look and feel of user profiles, and Open Graph actions, which gives users the ability to “read” books and “climb” mountains in addition to just “liking” pages. Then there’s the question of rising social networks like Google+, which just this week launched brand pages.
    CMOs must reserve some time to stay abreast of industry changes like the ones outlined above, and their campaigns and systems need to be fluid enough to adapt in real-time.

Marketing is changing, but that’s not a bad thing. It just means that you can no longer simply read a “how-to-market” manual and call it a day. Social media has shaken up the way things work, and the aftershocks are still rippling out. It’s an exciting time to be a CMO.

CEO Clara Shih to keynote at ad:tech New York alongside Facebook and Google executives

This year’s ad:tech in New York is huge on social. Featuring keynotes from the likes of David Fischer, VP of Advertising and Global Operations at Facebook, and Christian Oestlien, Google Head of Social Advertising Products, the event makes no secret of its new social lean.

Because the evolving ad:tech is all about social media, there’s no way Hearsay Social could miss the event! That’s why our very own CEO Clara Shih will also be keynoting the event.
While we expect that David and Christian will focus on how marketers should be employing Facebook and Google+, respectively, Clara has prepared a brilliant presentation highlighting the “7 Habits of Highly Successful CMOs.” From acknowledging that we’ve entered the Facebook era to learning a new class of metrics to integrating social across entire departments, CMOs must be the ones promoting the proliferation of social media interactions, for the good of both individual users as well as businesses.

A packed keynote room at ad:tech.

Besides her keynote, which takes place at 1:00 PM on Thursday, November 10, Clara will also be sitting on a 10:15 AM panel that same day, entitled The Social-Loco Revolution: How Social + Local + Mobile Will Drive the Next 10 Years of Marketing.

Clara, along with Jake Furst (business development at foursquare), Albert Wenger (partner at Union Square Ventures), and James Brown (Retail Marketing Director at Perry Ellis International), will discuss the new wave sweeping through the intersection of social, local, and mobile. Marc Prioleau, Managing Director for Prioleau Advisors, will act as moderator for the panel.

If you’re a marketer laser-focused on social media, here are some other sessions that may interest you:

Social is making its mark on the Web, and that’s why we’re so excited to hear what comes from the conversations at ad:tech next week. We hope to see you there!

When, where, and how social media users share [INFOGRAPHIC]

When are social media users most active? What time of day, what day of the week? When do most people click a link? What are the fastest growing social media sites of all time? Of the last year?
Social bookmarking service AddThis, in celebration of its fifth birthday, published an awesome infographic that answers all these questions and more. Naturally, this isn’t the ultimate and final resource on social media sharing—will that ever exist?—but it’s definitely a start. Over the last five years, AddThis has tracked 1.2 billion users across 10 million domains in 70 languages, making for a mountain of data to work with.
Some highlights:

  • When it comes to sharing, peak hour is 9:30am EST and peak day is Wednesday. This is a double-edged sword for marketers. While sharing at those times might be critical to spreading a message or piece of content virally, you’ll be competing with such a massive influx of content from other users that you risk getting lost in the stream.
  • Among social media services, Twitter has experienced the sharpest growth over the years in terms of shares percentage. Trailing Twitter are all the usual suspects: Facebook, LinkedIn, StumbleUpon, and Tumblr. It’s been said time and time again, but the most efficient marketer will use a variety of services in a variety of ways. Sharing on just one network isn’t very efficient.
  • Up to 10x more sharing happens via copy paste. Not “Tweet” buttons or “Like” buttons or anything of that sort. The traditional act of copying a URL from the address bar and pasting it into an email or IM chat is still the preferred way for people to share content with each other.

Scroll through the infographic below for some incredible data – like, “We process more data in one week than the Hubble Telescope collected in its first 20 years.” Wow!

Back in May, our in-house data guru Greg Kroleski wrote a great article entitled “Avoiding the “cricket chirp” post: Three factors to optimize social media engagement,” which delves into the many nuances of sharing across multiple networks and for multiple audiences. For successful sharing, users must be mindful of the kind of content they’re sharing, the timing of their posts, and much more.

There’s always more data available on this subject, so check back here regularly for new insights.