Social Media for Large Enterprises – Interview with Glenn Gow

ggow.jpgGlenn Gow (president of Crimson Consulting; Blog: Achieve Market Leadership) and I belong to the same Vistage Group and have been there for years. A few weeks ago, Glenn shared some of his initiatives in Social Media Marketing – all for his firm’s large technology clients. Generally, I hear more about social media initiatives by small and mid-size firms – so this was different. I decided to explore more and Glenn (as usual) was kind enough to share some of his insights on social media for large technology businesses.

RS: Glenn, most of your clients are large tech companies. What prompted you to look at social media for your clients?

GG: Raj, our technology clients are typically on the cutting edge, and yet, in the area of social media, it was our consumer clients like Verizon and Disney (see example of our work for Disney) who were ahead of the curve. We bring best practices to our clients. We saw how the application of social media strategies could be applied to large technology companies as well. We saw how much it was changing how companies go to market and – how important it was for our clients to get ahead of the curve from a competitive point of view. So we focused on it.

RS: We only hear about how the emerging companies are using social media marketing. Can you give me some examples of your work with the clients. Also, what is that you have been able to achieve for them that you could NOT have achieved without social media marketing?

GG: We help our clients in a variety of areas:

– Helping them get established with corporate blogging (see Starting a Dialog with Your Market: 8 Steps to Establishing a Successful Corporate Blog)
– Establishing and hosting wikis for the sharing of information, both internally and externally,
– Creating and moderating online communities (see Community Example of Excellence in Social Marketing)
– Tracking how people are talking about our clients and what they are saying using a variety of tools and resources (like Buzzlogic, Buzzmetrics, etc.)
– Online portals to establish community (see our work for Verizon).

RS: How open were your clients for this new approach? If they resisted, how did you overcome the resistance?

GG: We absolutely see resistance. People are concerned about risks and how it affects them personally. We understand that and help them understand the risk vs. reward payoff. It takes someone willing to stand up for what they believe in to make it work. (see Corporate Blogging: Getting Past “No” if You’re Not the CEO)

RS: How is social media marketing different from traditional marketing?

GG: At Crimson, we put a simple, but powerful twist on the idea. Traditional marketers often look at a three-phase cycle with their customers called acquisition, retention, and growth.

Our twist is to change that to attract, engage and extend. Rather than “acquiring” customers (since loyalty is becoming even more fleeting), we help companies “attract” customers. To “retain” customers we focus on “engaging” them through compelling content and social tools that enable them to interact. Finally, we work to “grow” them by “extending “ our clients’ content through various devices and viral tactics.

RS: What are many marketers not getting about social media?

GG: We’re now in an ongoing dialog with our market. We’re no longer just publishing. We are now expected to listen and respond. Because consumers trust each other more than large brands, then tend to trust key influencers (because those influencers are, or are viewed as, consumers), more than they trust the brand. We help our clients become part of that conversation.

RS: What are some issues to consider when someone embarks on a social media marketing initiative?

GG: Here are some important considerations:

– Be comfortable taking on this challenge knowing that measurement is very difficult
– Develop clear goals to establish clarity around your efforts
– Consider skunk-works experiments for internal activities
– Gain support from Sr. Management for any external activities, or you will fail
– Be patient and recognize that you are in uncharted waters that will likely take time to prove its worth
– Monitor the activities of your competitors
– Study what others are doing inside your industry and outside your industry to be on top of Best Practices as they develop.

RS: Where do you think social media marketing is headed?

GG: We will see more:

– Enterprise communities and forums
– Corporate blogging
– Tracking and responding and inviting people to participate (see Dell’s Web 2.0 Effort Can Do Better)
– Collective intelligence management
– Virtual worlds (job fairs are actually a viable use of these worlds)

The future does NOT include twitter-like products (at least for B2B). It may have applications for B2C, but they will be niche applications.