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Dachis Social Business Summit 2013: Data, Content, Culture & Conviction

Yesterday, I spent the day with the Dachis Group at their annual Social Business Summit (SBS), now in its 4th year as a mecca for industry thought leaders and brand pioneers to exchange insights and challenge one another in their approach to social business.  The fantastic speaker lineup included vanguard strategists and authors of the models and frameworks defining the new socbiz paradigm shift along with senior marketers who are on the forefront in applying those models and living out the shift in their organizations.  All of the presentations were incredibly illustrative and provided substantive takeaways, which I will attempt to briefly summarize here.

Jeff Dachis opened the Summit stating mankind is experiencing the largest shift in the history of communications – from capital-intensive media controlled by the few, to the democratization of self-expression we can all share.  We are now operating in a society of mass communicators, which requires what he calls a ‘reboot in the way brands get built’.  With  +400 social networks and millions of users worldwide, brands must find a new way to engage with people at scale.  Yet, with all the shift we’ve seen and experienced in the past decade, its surprising how much we’re still trying to operate with old methods.  True adoption requires adaption.

So what needs to be adapted within our organizations in order to successfully engage and scale in today’s social landscape?  There are 4 ingredients that were discussed:

Data – we’ve all heard the staggering figures about the growth rate of consumer data thanks to the myriad of available platforms accessible through mobile devices.  With this phenomenon, comes the increasingly demanding expectation by consumers for creativity and relevance from marketers.  Two brands were continuously highlighted on both the brilliance and intensive effort required to mine the data and respond in the moment:  Oreo’s recent ‘Dunk in the Dark‘ response ad during the recent Superbowl power outage and Unilever’s ‘Old Spice Guy‘ response videos.  In the case of Old Spice, their team cranked out nearly 200 personalized YouTube videos in only two days.  And yes, response time matters: 7x more sales can be driven by responding to inquiries within five minutes versus 24 hours after they are received.  It’s not enough to look backward and understand where your customers have been; you have to be able to quickly marry it with their present with a predictive eye on where they are about to be, desire, and consider next.

In the new social order, data is your best friend.  You need to dig into it and invite your partners and other third-parties to dig into it as well.  Getting informed is more than half the battle and you can’t find all the signals in the noise on your own.

Content – once you find the signal, you need to act on it in a personal, relevant manner.  One size fits all content approaches that are oblivious to the actual conversation taking place around them are broken.  Content should naturally emerge from an entity that is fully engaged in listening and understanding the community it wishes to become a part of and help cultivate.

Culture – Executing the data and content elements ultimately depend on the clarity and adherence to your organization’s culture.  Getting that right requires a thriving ecosystem of employees, partners and brand advocates to participate on a daily basis.   A brand’s outside is only as good as it insides.

Conviction – it takes focus and clarity to know why and what you need to do with social, but also the committed follow-through in designating the resources to achieve it.  Talk is cheap.  Data, content and culture require real day-to-day investment.

The SBS speakers were terrific – below is a mini roundup of my personal soundbite favorites from the day:

Brian Solis, Altimeter Group (@briansolis)

The future of marketing isn’t ‘Moneyball’, its the Human Algorithm, which should lead to empathy and creative inspiration being ignited at moments of truth across shared experiences.  Your consumers never turn off and neither should you.

John Hagel, Deloitte Center for the Edge (@jhagel)

Data is the new renewable energy resource.  If we’re going to properly harness it, we have to move beyond the old models of business.  We have the opportunity to make the ‘invisible’ become ‘visible’ – not  just with ourselves, but with a broader audience of employees, partners and stakeholders.

Dr. Scott Hendrickson, Gnip (@DrSkippy27)

Different forms of social media each have their own pulse of richness and speed.  Understanding those patterns and modeling the ‘half life’ of developing stories leads to smarter prediction on where your message can have the biggest relevance and impact.

Rob Bailey, DataSift (@RMB)

Social data is getting more complicated.  The average tweet can now contain up to 150 fields of meta-data.  Eyeballing tweets no longer scales – finding brand advocates requires a deeper, ongoing dive into trillions of interactions that leads to a transformational opportunity to understand and engage them individually and at scale.

Tony Hsieh, Zappos & Las Vegas Downtown Project (@Zappos)

Company culture is our number one strategic priority  If we get that right, then all the other pieces like outstanding customer service, differentiated product development, rave brand building will naturally flow from it.  Strong culture requires vision with a higher purpose.  Chase the vision, not the money.

Erika Jolly Brookes, Oracle (@ebrookes)

The mis-alignment of marketing and IT is what’s holding us back.  That is where the real ROI lies.

Michael Brito, Edelman Digital (@Britopian)

Content should be created with a goal to change behaviors (spark conversation, purchase, download, etc.).  It’s up to the company leadership and culture to change the way we have traditionally approached creating content and move towards finding and empowering those mavens inside your organization that can fuel your strategy.

Dion Hinchcliffe, Dachis Group (@dhinchcliffe)

Life expectancy of F500 companies has shrunk from 75 to 15 years; technology is disrupting our industries at a faster pace.  Bigger staffs #FAIL – companies now need to create operations (analysis frameworks and processes) to engage at scale and focus on building advocacy capital.  The ‘digitally disruptive’ CMO will have data supremacy.

Marisa Thalberg, Estee Lauder (@ExecutiveMoms)

Social responsibility programs offer trifecta of benefits: (1) rallying point for employees to common cause and platform for enhancing their social engagement abilities; (2) authentic content source for brands to build reputation and engagement with consumers in causes that deeply affect them and (3) becomes a low-cost incubator for new tools and practices.

Olivier Blanchard, Social Media R.O.I (@theBrandBuilder)

Companies are still searching for the true objective of their social strategies.  Social Business requires focus specificity and integration into actual business functions – sales, customer services, human resources, public relations, community management and intelligence operations.  Right now, the focus is lopsided in just the marketing/pr areas of organizations – leaders must funnel the talent and investment to the other areas.


Your brand is not about one single person.  Crisis calls for you to dig deep, come out and return to your original purpose and mission.  We returned to our roots and focused on reinforcing the individuals behind the brand so our message would permeate and spread.  Your critics can become your advocates.

A big thanks to Jeff Dachis (@jeffdachis) and his team for the first-class event they put on.  It’s a terrific forum to connect with great people, old friends and new, that gets better and better each year.

Click here, if you want to check out some of the Twitter action from #SBS2013 courtesy of Keyhole Real-Time Tracker.

About Michelle Batten

Michelle Batten is a seasoned digital marketing & advertising leader. She has spent two decades in the interactive arena, working with Fortune 1000 brands + start-ups to define and execute their digital initiatives. An emerging media visionary, Michelle is currently serving as Head of Global Marketing for Mobile & Innovation Intrapreneur for Amadeus, a global travel technology company. She is also the President for the Chicago American Marketing Association. Her passions include culture + tech evolution, mentoring, experiential travel and foodspotting.

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