Executive Leadership Is Critical For Success

About a year ago I started outlining a book on community collaboration and digital marketing strategies. I started covering all the basics, SEO, content publishing, advocacy, social media and engagement etiquette. And I realized toward the end that most of my success implementing these strategies for companies was due to executive leadership. Any project starts with leadership to help get the support you need from executive sponsors to improve your teams chances at success. This may be the most important aspect of any rolling out any marketing engagement program for three reasons: Obtaining funding, removing obstacles, and team motivation.

First of all if you don’t have funding you don’t have a project. Securing commitment for funding reassures the team that there is support for there efforts. It provides the resources, new hires, products needed to get the ball rolling. Funding is also one of the bigger obstacles that will need to be addressed immediately but not the same as other obstacles you will face when rolling out a disruptive technology.

The other types of obstacles I am referring to are political. You would be surprised how many internally and externally want a voice but don’t want to help. You will find between finance, HR, global security, legal, IT… etc… there will be no shortage of departments that will want to slow things down by asking questions, throwing up barriers and all around objection to change. No one likes change but it is necessary if you want to evolve and survive in this new modern world of customer engagement. Getting a good representation of executives will help eliminate all these issues as you will have a trump card that you can call their bluff when threats of escalation. Recently when our team implemented a social intranet we had the CMO, SVP of HR and CTO as executive sponsors. This won’t prevent threats or obstacles from being presented but will give you the confidence that it won’t go any further and the project will continue moving forward with the strategy you have set forward.

And this helps team motivation. All any employee wants is to be able to complete their task and have success. Keeping a team motivated is really just this simple. If you, as the strategic leader, can secure the executive support to help remove obstacles and lay a foundation for the teams success that is all the motivation they will need. It is just the belief that success is possible and the team can do the work that they have been tasked with.

These are just three reasons why executive support and leadership is important but realize that this doesn’t explain how to get an executives attention, tactics that can be used to eliminate escalations and keep the team focused on the end result. I think I just came up with three new chapters. Stay tuned and I’ll try to put some of these down in future posts.

What is the value of a community member?

As I move forward with my community 2.0 initiative I realize how important it is to justify the value of our community members. Once you get beyond justifying the need of a strong social community strategy for your company the next step is secure the required funding to support your strategy. Most executives understand the need to be actively engaged with their customers but will want data points to back that up. After some #BigData analysis I now have that answer.

 

My initial analysis has determined that companies that have community members average purchase is 48% higher than those companies who do not have any community members. The answer why is elusive but some assumptions can be made. What we know is community members are much more informed about your products, much more engaged in options and are regularly looking for answers to help make their solution better. If you look at all those eagerly awaiting the release of the #iPhone5 and IOS6 today from Apple you can relate these assumptions. Those who purchase a new iPhone today will need a new charger, a new case and probably any other accessories that might enhance the value of their purchase. If you use this as an example for your company then you can justify the value of the community by educating existing customers and prospects on not only your core products but also any other accessories that will help make that solutions stronger and more beneficial.

 

The opportunity resides in member acquisition. If you can increase the number of companies who have community members by 1% the increase in revenue is substantial. This is the monetization justification that executives want before committing to investing more in your social community strategy. The formula to calculate this is really no different than my formula for determining SEO ROI http://bracerennels.com/seo/.

 

If you know your cost for member acquisition and what your investment is to convert hose anonymous visitors to active community members then you can relate what that increase will be in return on revenue from average purchase. There is also another assumption which is the more actively you engage your members from a company you have the larger that average purchase price will rise.

 

So, how are you measuring your community?

What is Community 2.0?

Imagine by John Lennon painted a picture of what life might look like without barriers, silos of war and religion and everyone just accepted each other as they were. Now, imagine being able to engage in conversations across all communities, twitter, Facebook, Linkedin or any other social property also without silos or barriers. Communities are evolving and are not limited to just discussion forums. Engaging conversations are occurring all over the social web which can be tough to find and engage if you aren’t listening. However, this is really easy to do. There are several tools that allow you to monitor the web for specific keywords (either positive or negative in sentiment) and allow you to respond in real-time.

 

Engaging in those conversations allow you to act as a social concierge and help answer or even guide discussions to where helpful resources and or knowledge experts might reside. There was an interesting comment on VirtualGeek Blog where someone had said how it could be difficult to navigate the web for answers across all the social properties available. This is where a content linking and syndication strategy can help casting a wider web with links all back to a central location for information. So, when someone performs a search they may get multiple hits across twitter, Facebook, .COM and images but ultimately they all lead back to the relevant conversation regardless where they click.

 

Now, if we assume this web search is performed by a prospect or even an existing customer, then they are probably already made the decision of what it is they want. What most web visitors are looking for is confirmation that their choice and solution is the correction solution for solving their challenge. So, what if when we navigated to the product page of a website we could see community conversations about similar topics and peers discussing the same challenge we were looking to solve. Not only can that visitor engage directly with peers who may have already solved this problem they may innovate new solutions the company hadn’t considered. Guess what? You not only just reduced your sales cycle by providing a customer reference of someone who has already solved the challenge but may have also helped drive creative product innovation via peer collaboration.

 

This is Community 2.0: Where prospects looking for a solution, can engage with customers who already have the solution and then are transformed into product advocates to help drive better and more innovated products. These three social personas (Prospects, Customers and Advocates) are transforming how companies do business and interact with their customers. This is Community 2.0.

 

How are you engaging your community?