What I learnt from start-ups at #LeWeb

I had the pleasure of attending LeWeb last week and given my focus on B2B and corporate Social Media, I was bound for the Social Business stream.

Beyond harping phrases and taunts to the effects of “get social or perish” and evangelising social media – the social business track also offered up some nuggets of interest. Here is my short summary of the day and of the sessions I attended on the Social Business track.


The ability to innovate and scale that innovation will benchmark success
My largest takeaway from the day was the velocity at which the start-ups and businesses present were growing. Each one reaching X million users faster than Facebook and Twitter – in part because many are leveraging their networks for promotion, but also down to the appetite for niche apps that is developing thanks to app stores and smartphone growth.

In order for them to sustain this growth technically they are deploying cloud based products and development, scaling for demand and keeping costs pinned to user numbers. They focus on their core product and open their API to let others explore peripheries.

Their marketing – mostly crowd sourced or leveraging brand advocates – is as innovative as their products.
They have the capacity and thick skin to run with a marketing campaign around a feature, test the water and ‘pivot’ if the feature or even the entire app is a failure. Their marketing – Agile in nature – reflecting the way their products are built.

I suspect the market share these companies take from slow moving larger organisations to only increase…


We are still not engaging enough on Social Media

Jan Rezab from Social Bakers introduced us to his new measurement ranking www.socially-devoted.com. Aimed at encouraging organisations to embrace social media as a way to talk with their customers and respond to messages. With ~90% of big brands on Facebook now only – 30% are actually doing it correctly.

According to Jan’s manifesto, correctly is:

  • Opening up your wall to fans questions- 25% of global brands still close their walls off from comments.
  • Responding to fan questions – respond to at least 65% of questions posed to your brand on Facebook.
  • Communicating in a timely fashion – the industry standard is (a surprisingly slow) 28hrs

Here are how the industries stack up

The main headlines include a saddening statistic, given the uptake of social media marketing – that 70% of all fan questions on Facebook go unanswered. The equivalent of not answering more than 2/3rds of your incoming calls! Interestingly, despite our perception as users, Airlines and Telco as an industry, topped the list in response rates.

For brands, there is also a name and shame list of all brands with some surprising names at the bottom of the list…
As a parting note, Jan offers: “Social media is about being personal, please don’t automate responses! ”


Organising your company/business to be social internally, being web2.0 as a company, is paramount to success in social media externally.

Maria Poveromo, of Adobe mentioned that organising as a team internally was a large challenge. After consulting with @Jowayang and @BrianSolis at the veteran start-up Altimeter, they adopted their more advanced model – a hub and spoke social media management community in late 2009.

The hub and spoke being adopted by many of the pioneers in social media such as Dell with their Social Media and Community University.

  A Framework for the Social Business

The model focuses around a centre of excellence that:

  • Listens and measures their engagement over social media,
  • Enables hubs with the right technology,
  • Empowers employees to use social media via training of tools and technology and the best ways to engage,
  • Innovates, staying on top of industry best practices, pilot trials and then feeding this out to the spokes.

With the hub in place, Maria urged that the first communications she and every organisation needs to make is around a crisis framework. With decision trees, noting who do they need to call in a crisis on the weekend.

Measuring success is key to going beyond good training and being able to close the loop on what you learn from social media. Good measurement is, ideally, giving the right data and metrics to the right audience. Executives at the top of the pyramid received a high level summary, and those tactically using social media receiving a very granular level of reporting.

Maria also has a nice KPI cheat sheet that can be used when planning your Social Media activities.

Maria’s parting notes:

“You can’t be successful externally without aligning internally.”

“Move from content aggregation to storytelling.”


Customers expect to be surprised – you must innovate constantly

Carla de Preval, Digital Marketing Manager for Yves Saint Laurent.

She explained that luxury is not just about story-telling and craftsmanship, but also very much about innovation: “When you look at the history of almost every luxury brand, the kick-off thing was always about innovation… Saint Laurent invented prêt-a-porter clothes, bringing haute couture to women in the street for the first time, and that’s what we continue to strive to do today.”

Carla framed the commonalities in best practice that luxury brands have with all brands. In that they tailor their message to the platform, be it Twitter, Facebook or Pinterest. They try to be everywhere their customers are and mobile is a large focus as they try to digitise all of their marketing and offer ‘thematic value add’ experiences of the brand.

She also talked of an ongoing VIP blogger relationship program, that involves daily contact with the brand. Carla emphasises that their ‘blogger outreach’ succeeds because they give innovative content with an angle that is novel. They like to co-create and in each country have a ‘Luxury’ top three or so bloggers that they work with. Her advice is to be open and transparent, they are looking for REAL breaking news, not marketing fluff.

Their Heathrow airport campaign is an example of their innovation, which ties to my belief that content needs not only to be sticky to keep people on your website but also slippery. In that it can be shared to social media. They ran an Xbox Kinex screen that let visitors ‘Paint’ or ‘Splash’ with their products. You could then scan a custom QR code to share it online. They then gave away samples, to those that shared and checked in on foursquare – a full experience that connected online and offline.

You can play an online version of the “splash” at the YSLExperience.com web site.


Apps going deep in verticals will attack mainstream classified and social media platforms

Getglue, is a second screen network that lets you check into shows and movies rate them and comment on them.

Fraser Kelton COO of Getglue discussed his product and (perhaps biased opinion) that niche apps will attack the current dominating players. The irony being that many will still rely on share to: Facebook/Twitter functionality in order to gain popularity and momentum.

Foodspotting, Getglue, and the infamous Instagram are but a few that spring to mind. Yet if you take a look in the app store, for any of the verticals on Craigslist “there’s an app for that”.

So how popular is third screening and checking in?

Getglue not sits at around 10million check ins a months. And they get as many check ins to a single episode of Glee as Nielsen’s gets on their entire network of TV sets.


Finding value in big and little data

Regardless of the size of your organisation these will be items on the agenda this year: the management of social media internally, using the qualitative insights it brings, and understanding big data trends.

I would love to hear your views!

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