2010 highlights at social media agency FreshNetworks

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Picture12010 has been a brilliant year for the team here at FreshNetworks. As a social media agency we’ve grown both in size and stature and we’re proud to have added several leading brands to our books including Telefonica, Royal Bank of Scotland, LMAX, Lego and Spar.

Our client portfolio is not the only thing that has grown significantly over the last year.

We’ve increased the size of our team and several new people have joined the businesses, including senior hires Mark Jennings , our new Account Director, Kerrie Lapworth as our Head of Production and Joy Taylor , who will be joining us in January as an Account Director. We’re looking forward to  kicking off 2011 with a permenant team of 34, with many more hires planned throughout 2011. Keep an eye on our job page to see which roles we’re currently advertising.

In other news, we’ve been on social media scavenger hunts, cycled around London dressed as Father Christmas, stopped by Prince Philip and had breakfast with the Prime Minister.

Awards and Recognition

Over the last few months we’ve also been shortlisted for several awards, including the Drapers Etail awards and the Ecommerce Expo awards for our work with Jimmy Choo.

The Jimmy Choo Trainer Hunt was also a finalist in the Forrester Groundswell Awards. Ever since the book Groundswell was written, the Forrester Groundswell Awards have been regarded as the most prestigious social media awards on the planet. Along with GiffGaff, the revolutionary new mobile network, we were the only other finalist from the UK.

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And not only did we win the Don’t Panic Some Comms award for the best social media campaign (for our work with Jimmy Choo) but we also won the Grand Prix award - the best of the best award for being overall winners. While we don’t necessarily believe that awards are the best indication about an agency’s ability to deliver value to clients, it’s always nice to be recognised for our efforts.

We’ve also been shortlisted for a Chartered Institute of Marketing (CIM) award for LV=’s community and have been recognised for our work with various not-for-profit and public sector organisations with a Future 100 award. It’s been a great year and we’re certain our success will continue throughout 2011 and beyond.

Our blog

We’re very proud of our blog and the fact that we’re ranked so highly  by both AdAge Power 150 and Wikio for the social media and marketing information that we share. Here are 10 of our best blog post from 2010:

Social Media Speaking

In 2010 the team was much in demand as speakers about social media. We spoke at over 70 events including: IAB Europe, Retail Week, AdTech, Istrategy, CIM and the The Economist conferences. We’ve also been interviewed by or quoted in every major UK newspaper and several marketing and new media magazines.

So all that’s left to say now is “thank you” to all our readers, supporters and clients over the last year - it’s been a great year and we hope you’re looking forward to 2011 as much as we are.

You might like to take a look at our team Christmas video - 30 Santas, 2 reindeers and several “Boris Bikes” spreading a bit of Christmas cheer around London. Have a great Christmas!

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Why we’ll all be talking about the value of social media in 2011

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337/365: The Big Money
Image by DavidDMuir via Flickr

The debate and discussions about measuring social media, and those about social media ROI, often focus more on what can be measured than on the value that social media is creating for a brand. Over the last few years as brands have been experimenting with social media this is not unexpected. When we go through periods of innovation and experimentation we always tend to explore and discover the new tools we are using. But as social media has become more mainstream for brands, both as part of the marketing mix and more broadly across the business, we need to move from discussing the things we can measure to the things we should measure. From measurements to the actual value that social is adding to a brand.

Measuring and then evaluating the value that social is adding to a brand will be different from brand to brand. They are using social in different ways, across different parts of their business and are used to measuring value in different ways. There is not one solution, a panacea for all our social media measurement ills. Things are more complicated than that. However, this does not mean that we cannot measure the value we are having when we use social media. And as social media has moved from innovation and experimentation to more mainstream we need to take a more mainstream approach to value. And we need to talk about what we are measuring and the value social is creating.

There are many things that are not examples ‘value’ from social media - a large number of followers on Twitter or Likes on Facebook for example, or a large number of visits to an online community. Such things, whilst easy to measure, are not, in themselves, examples of business value. It is relatively easy to get more Likes of your brand on Facebook (running Facebook advertising being one obvious example), and this may open up more people you can broadcast your messaging to via their wall, but business value comes not from having Likes, but from what these people do for you. Brands and social media agencies need to talk more about this, about what their social media is doing for them and the value it is adding.

Now that social is a mainstream part of business, value should be expressed in more mainstream terms. We should be talking about things such as a lowered cost of new customer acquisition, and increased lifetime value of customer, a reduction in average customer serving costs, increased customer satisfaction, or greater brand awareness. We should be talking about actual value to the business rather than social media measurements. We should be talking about why we started using social in the first place and the impact it is having across the business

There are many things we can and should measure, but in 2011 the conversation will be about the value social is adding to a brand. Brands should be talking internally in these terms and they should expect any social media agency that works with them to be talking in these terms too.

This post is part of an informal series: Social Media in 2011.

Influence - knowing the value of your customers

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Picture1Guest blog post by Luke Brynley-Jones who is hosting Monitoring Social Media 2010 in London on 22nd November.

I’ve written about social media influence a few times in the past year – including a somewhat plaintive post asking whether flawed influence measurement is better than no influence measurement.

I’ve also hosted a Bootcamp where I questioned the “influence” calculations of certain leading free monitoring tools. Then earlier this month, I participated in a discussion in which the overwhelming mood was that influence could and should be measured – if only because it’s so  important to marketers that we simply have to try to calculate it.

While I’m not keen on bogus science or flawed assumptions- having read Peter Shankman’s “Road-to-Damascus” post that describes the moment that he realised how valuable it would be to know how influential your customers were the moment they walked in the door - I have to say, I’m getting there. However, the question of how influencer rating is calculated - whether it’s based on Twitter re-tweets, inbound links, number of comments on a blog or shoe-size – is simply going to run and run. But all that really matters is that it works for your business.

If your customers are online and into social media, an influence analysis service like Klout, which uses freely available data, might work fine. In his post, Peter describes how businesses can use Klout to get a short, snappy rating against which they can decide how much “engagement” time a customer really deserves – or whether they should simply be sent packing. 

Most of us haven’t yet knowingly suffered as a result of a company knowing our “influence” rating (in other words, our commercial value) – but imagine when every shop, garage, restaurant and bar knows exactly how influential (or not) you really are. I predict that’s a 2-3 years away yet…but can you imagine the situation:

“Do you know who I am?!”
“Well, Sir. Actually, yes - we do”.

Luke has kindly offered our readers 10% discount on the ticket price for Monitoring Social Media 2010, taking place in London on 22nd November - please use the discount code “fresh”. Charlie (Osmond) will  be speaking about How to Identify Influencers, including details from our up and coming report on using tools to identify social media influencers.

Resourcing social media in financial services

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shutterstock_62823619While  niche communities, customer driven markets and transparency are all areas in need of exploration, when it comes to social media for financial services the main concerns highlighted during our financial services round table event were  risk and regulation and resourcing.

The current situation

From our round table discussion it became apparent that some financial services brands don’t see a place for social media within their organisation, therefore they don’t see the need to resource it.

One of the discussion points raised at the event was that internal staff, from the top level down, often see social media as something they use to interact with people outside of work in their private life - it has no place in the office. This makes it difficult to get both resource and budget to implement an effective social media strategy as often senior level staff do not see the value for their business.

However, on the flip side, several budget holders in the room argued that it is possible to get both money and resource for social media - you just have to prove it has value. Take Aviva’s “you are the big picture” campaign, or one of our clients, LV= and their online community.  These companies both allocated funding and resource to social media.

Delegates at our round table event felt that the best approach to getting sign-off for social media is to pick out a single key business aim– perhaps the lowest hanging fruit- and test how well social media can achieve this goal. Prove one basic goal and then move on from there.

If social media is really here to stay then going slow now won’t make a difference in the long run, and it will prove to seniors and budget holders that time and resource is needed to achieve real success from social media.

To a lot of key decision makers social media is still the unknown. By breaking it down into bite size pieces you can prove its value.

The future direction

An interesting thing to note about our roundtable discussion is that the conversation focused largely around social media tools - namely Twitter and Facebook.

Perhaps it’s time for financial services brands need to think outside of these tools and to look at resourcing a more long-term sustainable social media strategy that engages the business at all levels. Organisations need to learn not to rely on the current, most popular or commonly used social media tools; they may not be around in five years time.

In order for social media to succeed it must be driven from the top down, not from a single resource within the business. Rather than using social media just as part of marketing, or customer service, or product innovation, it needs to be integrated throughout the whole business. In the future, staff and employees in all departments will need to be trained on how to use social media to ensure that rules and regulations are not broken and that social media becomes a seamless, intrinsic part of business.

Social media: Risk and regulation in the financial service industry

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Juggling

Aside from niche communities,  customer driven markets and transparency, risk and regulation was one of the key discussion points at our social media in financial services round table event.

The current situation

Initially financial services brands and institutions were reluctant to use the various social media tools and technologies available on the market, largely because of the stringent rules and regulations that govern the industry.

Financial services brands have strict codes of conduct when it comes to data sharing. It’s often the case that external sites like Facebook and Twitter simply cannot be used or accessed within the firewall of a business for fear of information inadvertently being leaked out.

With the Financial Services Authority (FSA)  asking firms to apply strict advertising rules to more informal communications like Twitter, forums and blog posts in order to stay compliant, it’s no wonder financial services brands are less keen to adopt new technologies - it’s just another area they can fall down on.

However, with large banks and institutions like  American Express, ING Direct,  Bank of America and HSBC all using social media in one way or another, it seems that financial services brands are starting to  realise they can use social media as long as the activity is well planned and uses a pre-defined, fully developed social media strategy to ensure that risk is managed effectively and that regulations are adhered to.

What does the future hold?

With more and more financial services organisations adopting social media it will become an inherent part of the industry’s online infrastructure. As long as businesses have a pre-defined, robust social media strategy, with clear processes in place, then both FSA regulations and other guidelines will remain intact.

Proactive identification of compliance and the possible business risks from online conversations will also help financial services brands use social media in a way that aligns with industry standards.

Similarly, each business should develop a social media policy for employees. The policy should form a  standard part of all employment charters and contracts and should determine social media activity  both internally and when representing the company externally. Again, this will ensure that rules and regulations are not broken. This policy should be updated on a regular basis to keep in-line with changes to the social media landscape.

Our next post will look at resourcing social media in financial services businesses.