The People Behind iGo2 – Will Bosma

We thought we would do a series of blog posts on the people behind iGo2. The people who perhaps you interact with on Twitter or Facebook or this blog. Or perhaps via email or phone or a combination of all these things. I seem to be first cab off the rank and I can tell you that it is a difficult thing to write about yourself. Here goes:

1. Role at iGo2

My primary role is to work on our strategy – who we partner with; what offerings and services we take to market and how we differentiate what we do. That has been evolving since day one at iGo2 and rarely stays still for very long! This world of social business is nothing if not dynamic! We did recognise early that focusing on social media networks only was not were we wanted to be – nor was it really what we thought would create enduring value for our clients. But working on all aspects of becoming a social business from the inside out really meant something to us. So the key strategic decision was to be more like a management consulting organisation with some solutions for those who want them rather a typical digital agency. We believe this puts us on the leading edge in some areas – which can be difficult when you are trying to build a business but is the right focus where we can deliver value to our clients.

So we have arrived at our four focus areas – Social Business Strategy, Social Business Intelligence, Social Enterprise Platforms (Communities), and Social Governance. We built out our partnerships and our offerings around these focus areas.

The second primary role for me is to produce content. I actually find that is a lot harder than strategy. Clients expect (rightfully) that you have processes, methodologies and frameworks to guide them through what is a transformational journey. Even if its transforming just one process within an organisation to include social business constructs they expect you have a process / roadmap for that. So ‘codifying’ all of that into documents, collateral, presentations and blog posts is one large task. And the myriad decisions along the way – brand guidelines; brand strategy, values, formats – eeeck!

The third role is the most important. Meeting with customers and prospects. And the most enjoyable. I often feel that we spend some much time talking about ‘how’ or ‘why’ that we don’t. If we preach listen, participate, engage then there is no better way to do that than to be in the trenches and face to face talking with customers. Period. Nothing ever approaches it either intellectually or for a dose of reality. I try to live by a simple business mantra by asking myself two questions all the time – So What and Who Cares?

  2. Why Am I Here?

Easy. We are at the start of the most profound change in the way that we conduct business since, perhaps, the Industrial Revolution. A change in the way we communicate, collaborate and innovate. And that change has produced seismic shifts in the relationships between people and organisations. There are lots of words for it and many have expressed it far better than I but if embraced it literally transforms the way organisations operate – from the boardroom to the customer. And even if you never use Twitter or Facebook in your life it will touch what you do and how you it every single day. I want to be part of that.

3. How Did I get Here?

My entire business career has been a progression from manufacturing to the customer experience. In terms of disciplines I started in manufacturing planning; moved to manufacturing itself as a factory head; then into Enterprise IT from a manufacturing point of view. I eventually made the transition to the IT vendor world and started in ERP, spent some time in Supply Chain and other areas before figuring out that CRM was actually a lot closer to the action. From CRM it just seemed natural to get into social media and digital marketing – I could see the changes in the way customers behave. And from there the realisation that you can’t be ‘social’ as a customer facing brand unless you embrace collaboration and community internally was a natural progression.

Like many, I wanted to get away from old tired multi national ‘command and control’ type operations. And who doesn’t want their own business? And our CEO, who I worked with in a former life, came along and sold me on his vision of iGo2. I am going to let him explain where the name of our company came from. Like many aspects of our business we have evolved a lot from when the name was selected.

4. Best Moments in the Business

The most memorable first milestone was when the founders got together in a farm shed over a very long weekend of work; fueled by country air, huge steaks almost cooked on a BBQ and some small amount of alcohol and forged the framework for who we are and how we do business. Our wives still don’t believe how hard we worked that weekend but it remains the cornerstone of who we are.

Our first customer signing was also momentous and when I think how far we have come since then I sometimes shudder at how naive we were. Each customer milestone since then has added to the magic.

Moving into a real live office instead of working in our home offices was pretty big too. For some reason it just felt more real but the ability to interact and socialise is the real benefit. And we do have fun.

5. Who Influences My Thinking in Social?

I am an unashamed Brian Solis fan. I admire his ability to summarise complex constructs and his way of combining media, psychology and sociology with some anthropology.

I am also a Michael Brito fan – his view of Social Business vs a Social Brand has affected my thinking a lot. Olivier Blanchard at the Brand Builder blog blows me away with every post. Boy, some of them are long rants but if you want genuine, from the heart, no nonsense advice on ‘social’ marketing and brand building then they can’t be beaten. And Dion Hinchcliffe at Dachis is my go to authority on Big Data and Social Business Intelligence.

I also like Ant’s Eye View as an organisation – their values and offerings seem very much like what we are trying to achieve. And there are some great thinkers at our partners like Telligent and Sysomos and InsideView.

6. What about me outside iGo2?

Well, I love sailing but don’t have a boat. Fortunately I have some great friends who do and last year helped them sail up the east coast of Australia to the Whitsundays.

I love to have a game of golf but rarely get the time. I have yet to find anyone I can beat consistently.

I am fortunate to have another escape which is about 3 hours away from the city in the form of a farm. So I raise beef cattle when I am not working on social initiatives with our customers. Its in a beautiful part of the world and we raise pasture fed cattle in as natural a way as possible. My stock manager does all the tricky stuff and still beats me at golf easily (even when highly under the influence – hand eye co ordination is a gift). That has led me and iGo2 to assist a local community organisation up there focused on saving the local environment.

My wife and I have been together more than 25 years but married for just over one. I do consider important decisions carefully. Even then we got married in Italy and I could have saved a further 20% via a better exchange rate by waiting another year! But I don’t make that point very often.We have two fabulous border collies that pretty much run our private life and have led us to doing some work for a northern Sydney dog club. And I do a little fund raising for the Prostate Cancer Foundation of Australia once a year.



And finally, I count my fellow iGo2 founders amongst the best friends I have and sincerely hope it stays that way!



5 MORE Signs You Are NOT a Social Business

Last week I was inspired by a meeting to write a post on 5 Sure Signs You are NOT a Social Business. That post received quite a lot of review and off line discussion. Since then, I have met with a number of potential customers or been working on existing engagements with partners and this question of the difference between a social brand and a social business keeps arising.

And for me, the issue has also been kept top of mind in a round about way as posts abound on the predicted top trends in social for 2012 as well as a couple of posts on whether digital agencies are properly equipped to consult on social business or not. See the original post here and the response of Edelman here.

In their own way, both point to the differences or provide signs by which to judge whether you are a social business or not.

I don’t want to buy into the argument as to whether PR firms should be a social business advisor or not except to say most we have met should not be considered for that role though doubtless some have the capability in spades. It’s a bit like the ROI of social media question – it’s the wrong one. Trying to classify all digital agencies as capable or not in social business consulting is meaningless. Some will, some won’t. Look at their work and ask their customers.

But the robust discussions have led me to continue thinking about several more sure signs you are not a social business.

Here are 5 more signs to consider:

  1. Your Social Data Streams are Full……of YOU
  2. Social Media is Owned by Marketing, PR or Communications
  3. The focus is on Customer Engagement rather than the Customer Experience
  4. You are not thinking ‘Community’
  5. Social Technology takes precedence over People

1. Your Social Media Data Streams are Full of You

We see this so often. The social media world is full of “how to”s” – make your tweets, posts, updates, comments more effective. All full of great advice which works to a degree. And so you look at your twitter streams and LinkedIn updates and Facebook or blog posts and it’s all about you.

On the other hand Social businesses share content of value to their community. Not just content they create, but content they curate as well. As someone said to us earlier this week – caring is sharing. They don’t just use it as another form of outbound marketing.

Taking your marketing and churning it out via social channels as well as via email and so on is not being a social business. There is interesting content for your community that was not developed by you. Share it. Give others credit. Learn from it. You will be a better organisation. Of course, if your community is totally outsourced it’s unlikely an agency can do this for you. (Ask us why not?)

2. Social Media is Owned by Marketing, PR or Communications

Perhaps the number one realisation of becoming a social business is that it needs to be a cross-organisational initiative.

In almost every large organisation we have met with in the last year, anything ‘social’ is the responsibility of either Marketing, PR or Communications – and if these are separate groups they will often be vying for ‘control’. We are not here to criticise these organisations or departments; we are simply saying that it’s a sign you are not yet a social business.

Social businesses understand the importance of social in service, in innovation, in recruitment, in retention; indeed – across the entire business and as a result either have a cross-LOB team in charge of it or a separate group reporting to the executive. Another way to describe this is “service design” which Wim Rampen defines as:

Service is the personal sum of a Customer’s experiences in all their interactions, through touch-points, with the products and/or services of the company
in all their interactions with the relevant experiences of others, through or in the Customer’s (on-line) social networks – all making up the Customer’s perception of the value received and/or to be received from the company at any point in time.

Dare we say it; social business is a transformational process across the entire company and virtually every business process within it. It’s not a ‘marketing thing’.

3. The focus is on Customer Engagement rather than the Customer Experience

This may seem like a pointless distinction – yet we feel it’s a key one. In social media, there is a lot written about ‘engagement’ – you must focus on ‘engaging’ in conversations with customers or potential customers. We find this kind of focus tends to be prominent in organisations which are still social brands and not yet social businesses.

Social brand objectives also usually incorporate various forms of “relationship marketing” which aim to get closer to a customer’s lifestyle and to increase their Customer Lifetime Value to the business. This seems, at face value, to be “social”, yet in fact it is the opposite and if you look carefully you see that social business exposes relationship marketing to be simply gilding the old lily of transactional-based marketing.

Social brands tend to get very excited about the prospect of engaging customers because they have not really entered into a dialogue before – they have been talking at their customers and prospects for a long time and to them, this seems like a huge leap. Yet social businesses tend not to talk about ‘engagement’ very much but rather they take it for granted.

Social businesses focus on using social to improve the customer experience – the focus is on how to serve the customer better rather than how to engage them. Customer engagement is important; improving the customer experience is critical and social businesses understand the difference.

4. You are not thinking ‘Community’

Social brands tend to talk a lot about social media and the networks and how they are using them; primarily in their marketing efforts. And they tend to consider community management as a process of making or keeping those networks alive and active. Which again is important, but is really a stepping stone on the way to becoming a social business.

A social business is concerned with creating communities around common business objectives or goals and understands that in fact a social business is a collection of communities, internally and externally; which collaborate to create value for all within the community.

Social businesses encourage employees to collaborate with partners and customers alike to create value for all parties in a shared process. And this is not for some esoteric reason of being more ‘social’ or more ‘engaging’ but to improve business results such as revenue, product innovation, reducing time to market or time to benefit, decreasing costs and so on. Not a fan, follower or friend in sight – people collaborating in communities on common business goals.

That’s the promise of a social business.

5. Social Technology takes precedence over People

Social enterprises understand that people and process take precedence over technology acquisition every time.

Organisations that do not understand what it takes to be a social business tend to focus primarily on the acquisition of technology or alternatively, how to keep consumer-led technology out of companies. These are the people who either spend all their time and resources on searching for a perfect Social CRM system or a perfect Social Business Intelligence tool or spend all their time arguing that allowing people access to Facebook on company time is the biggest threat to productivity known to the civilised world.

Both are dead wrong.

For example, the consumerization of IT has far-reaching consequences for both IT and the business and the transformation to a social enterprise – it’s a significant transformational area that requires progressive and careful consideration, and of course it also links and interplays with the impact of cloud computing and mobile.

The best social businesses help people form into communities and help direct the collective power of those communities towards figuring out how to improve the customer experience and how to become part of the recommendation chain in the world of social. The foundation for social business transformation is culture and leadership, and all the social technology in the world is useless if organizational behaviors aren’t changed.

Providing technology in the form of a social platform can be useful to assist with collaboration but it doesn’t come before people.

Do you agree with these sign, and the previous ones, that indicate you are not a social business?

What would you add?

Will B.



5 Sure Signs You are NOT a Social Business

This post is inspired by someone I met the other week who was seeking a role with @iGo2. We would have hired this person if we had an opening and will as soon as we do.

The reason they wanted out from their current role at a well known agency around town was that the agency was giving clients poor advice and was not working strategically with clients. The person felt that the agency would take any task in social for the client; whether it was a good idea or not. And they could see that sooner or later the lack of a social business strategy was going to damage the relationship with the client.

The person came to us because they were aware of some of the work we are doing and our insistence on making a strategic approach the heart  of being a successful social business. And the conversation got me thinking about what we see as the sure signs in an organisation that they have not grasped the broader implications of being a social business.

Here are five warning signs:

  1. Community management is completely outsourced to an agency;
  2. No linkage to your business goals / objectives;
  3. No social metrics beyond fans, followers and friends;
  4. You are not monitoring more than brand mentions;
  5. Social is a word connected only with those outside your organisation.

1. Community management is completely outsourced to an agency

Now, I understand you are busy. So outsourcing the set up of your social presence – check. Outsourcing the monitoring and the intelligence – yip, probably more cost effective than doing it in house; plus good insights across the data – and advice – can assist the business. Having an agency manage your ‘community’ by posting on your behalf?

What, you are too busy to communicate with your customers, prospects, members, followers, supporters, employee’s?

Run that by me again – as an executive of a company communication should be your number one priority. And we can tell – the stilted posts, twice a day, done to a schedule and a calendar agreed a month ahead. If someone actually asks a question, there is a yawning gap whilst the agency checks with the company as to the correct answer. No engagement, no spontaneity, no passion, no YOU.

If you do this you are not a social business and the agency that recommends or offers this to you – you should think seriously about the advice you are paying for!

2. No linkage to your business goals / objectives

The use of social media should be bound to an organisations goals and objectives – just like any other initiative. What are you trying to achieve – increased brand health, improved customer engagement, revenue growth, increased marketing effectiveness, operational efficiency or greater product innovation? Or likely, a combination of two or more of these objectives.

If you cannot link your social initiatives and programs to one or more business goals then it’s a sure sign you don’t have an effective social business strategy. And at best, you will remain a social brand rather than becoming a social business. For example, we are a relatively young and small company. Our primary goals are revenue growth and increased marketing effectiveness. Our strategy to get to these goals is to only focus on doing three things as a business – social strategy consulting, social business intelligence offerings and social platforms. And everything we do in social is designed to grow revenue or improve marketing effectiveness in one of these key offerings.

Think about the things you need to achieve in your business – leverage your network more effectively, deliver good customer service, get your clients published and generate qualified leads your sales team could work on. These are the more effective links and measures (see point #3 below) of success.

And even better, how about focusing on outcomes that “friends and followers” want, need or desire as a business objective? Businesses often come across as self serving when it comes to using social media – how about “simply serving” as Jay Deragon would say.

The development of metrics to measure the return on the use of social media, in support of business outcomes, is not something particularly mysterious, although it still generates enormous debate and  emotion. Olivier Blanchard calls this out and makes the point that understanding social media as one component of activity supporting the KPIs of a broader business strategy or activity is the key to measurement.

If you can’t make an immediate connection from your social initiatives to your strategy and business goals then you are not yet a social business.

3. No social metrics beyond fans, followers and friends

Don’t misunderstand me – these are valid metrics, but they are not enough. As Jeremiah Owyang said recently Number of Fans and Followers is NOT a Business Metric – What You Do With Them Is, which links out point #2 above with this point #3.

Here we enter the realm of ‘So What’ and ‘Who Cares’.

We had an organisation come to us with a request for proposal. They wanted a proposal to get to 10,000 Facebook fans as quickly as possible. They already had two proposals from agencies and wondered if we would also like to propose. We asked why on earth you would focus a proposal on a meaningless metric like this – why did they want them in Facebook and what would they do with them once they had them? They replied that some of their competitors had this many fans. We politely replied that we did not wish to propose to their business requirement.

We have also had occasion to have a client tell us; very strongly, that they have more than 500,000 fans on a particular facebook page. And we said – so what? Which is an interesting conversation stopper, let me tell you. We explained that we would rather have 10,000 really engaged fans on a community platform collaborating on a specific goal and why that would provide them a better business result.

Here at iGo2 we all come out of operational roles – sales, development, operations, presales and understand the value and need to have linkage of all investments to true business metrics. If you are going to invest in social (generally at the cost of investing elsewhere) then it better be measurable in business terms.

For example, according to the Chief Marketing Officer Council in “The Variance in the Social Brand Experience”, their latest 2011 report:

Social consumers indicate they are looking for exclusive experiences, savings, and perks from the brands they like. But marketers still believe that content and connection to peers are the primary drivers to likes and follows.

The social business has moved beyond “likes and follows”, and in fact beyond the “social brand”, to business KPIs and business linkages.

Yes, it’s ok to have non financial metrics (improved sentiment for one) but you have to be able to answer the ‘So what’ and ‘Who Cares’. If not, you are not yet a social business.

4. You are not monitoring more than brand mentions

We will assume you understand the importance of monitoring (listening). But it’s a long way from social media monitoring to social business intelligence. And social businesses don’t just monitor. And they don’t just monitor for mentions of their brand and then put some artificial ‘value’ on it – for example “this is how much it would have cost you if this was advertising space“!?

What? Don’t start me on this one – you wouldn’t pay for most of this copy anyway so why kid yourself.

In our own analysis work for clients we find that around 80% of mentions that interest you never contain your brand name.

If you wish to apply social business intelligence, you have to work at it, for example:

  • You must track key terms that are of interest to people who may need your products or services;
  • You must continually refine this;
  • You must track competitors; and,
  • Key partners if they are a large part of your value chain; and,
  • Key customers: and,
  • Location data if you are a brick and mortar retailer; and,
  • Then sift through the data, piece by piece:
    • Correcting sentiment;
    • Adding tags; and,
    • Refining searches in the context of your region/country/language/culture/market/segment;
  • Continually!

And then you look for the gold by seeking trends, opportunities to engage, subtle shifts in channels.

This is what social businesses do. Social brands just focus on brand mentions and sentiment.

5. Social is a word connected only with those outside your organisation

If your organisation is only focused on how to utilise social to connect with customers, markets, prospects and partners and not with employees – then it’s not a social business. If it is not equally focused on how to make internal processes more collaborative; if it is not seeking to unlock productivity internally through social initiatives then it’s not a social business.

See for example our recent post 360 Social Business Engagement Consumer AND Employee

And if the organisation blocks your access to social networks at work – what do you think – is it a social business? Do you feel trusted? Empowered? Included?

Many others have said it better than me, but you can’t be an effective social brand and engage with your customers in today’s world if you do not have an equal focus on becoming a social enterprise internally. It shows, in the great gaping holes in the process or the communications when a response is required and it has to go into the organisation – which is acting in the same old ways.

You need to enable what Jay Deragon calls the Voice of the System: “The voice of the system is the people who work within the system and expressing how well the system enables them to serve the customer“. He adds,

If people within the company cannot speak to the issues that constrain their ability to serve the end customers then management cannot hear what needs to improve. If you’re not listening then how can you hear the issues of critical importance to the people? …If your system is designed to not enable voices to speak the truth how do you really know what is going on?

Every organisation that we know who is on the journey to becoming a social business is equally focused on their employees and their internal process, and the “voice of the system”, as much as their customer-facing ones.


An organisation on the positive journey to becoming a social business will be addressing the following positive issues:

  1. Ensuring that community engagement is an internal activity;
  2. Creating linkages from social media activities to their business goals / objectives;
  3. Measuring or at least establishing social metrics beyond fans, followers and friends;
  4. Monitoring more than brand mentions;
  5. Connected through social with those inside their organisation.

What about you? What do you think are sure signs you are not a social business?


The Hijacking of #QantasLuxury

Now the furore over the social media ‘fail’ that was/is #qantasluxury is largely over we can analyse how the campaign was hijacked, to an extent by whom; and perhaps even glean some of the reasons why. But first a short recap.

Ill-timed but not necessarily a business disaster

Last week we took a look at why it went wrong Demystifying Qantas and Social Media, and our view has not changed. This was a poorly timed campaign by an organisation that did not understand that many of its stakeholders – employees, unionists, customers and the Australian public – do not agree with its stance in either shutting down operations by locking out staff or with what it wants to do in terms of restructuring its operations. And coming so soon after the lockout and the day it was going to arbitration because it could not agree with the unions – well, that was almost guaranteed to be an opportunity too good to waste for many who wanted to jump on to the bandwagon.

We also speculated whether or not it’s the huge fail that so many pundits have proclaimed. If we agree that social media should be part of a business strategy and that it should be linked to business goals and results it will be interesting to see whether those business results are adversely affected in coming months – we argue it’s too early to make that determination right now.

Interestingly, in recent days Virgin Australia announced its latest results and conceded that the lockout at Qantas had not made any material differences to those results – and it did not see that changing in the coming year! We believe that people seriously under estimate the power of the Qantas Frequent Flyer program; the foundation of much of the brand on its safety record and the stranglehold it still has on corporate travel in Australia. But as we also point out – Qantas seems determined to really test the resilience of its brand with its determination to show it is not a social business at its heart. Perhaps they were surprised at some of the vehemence of the tweets.

Understanding how the events unfolded and the cast of players

We also wonder how many of those who took to the hashtag are Qantas customers or potential customers (which is pretty important if you are going to declare this campaign a fail). And we think there are some interesting tales in a ‘forensic’ analysis of the hashtag and the timelines of how #qantasluxury got hijacked. So this post is really about ‘how’ the events unfolded to see what further insights there are.

We also thought it would be interesting to have a look at the cast of players in this saga. And some of the pundits. We had social media gurus rushing breathlessly to the traditional media by early afternoon with all sorts of numbers on the volumes of tweets (most of which were wildly inaccurate). We had pundits proclaiming disaster less than an hour after the first tweet. And we saw a level of commentary that probably went close to equaling the amount of direct activity on the tag. i.e Qantas got twice as much exposure on this tag as it might have otherwise through all the experts and their pontifications – which of course have to include the tag itself (and as we do here). So bear with us whilst we share with you the hijacking of #qantasluxury:


The original tweets from @Qantasairways was at 11.34am Sydney time announcing the competition. It was quickly followed by another with the hashtag and the conditions. Just prior to this there were some particularly unsavoury tweets on the subject of Qantas including using terms such as calling Alan Joyce (CEO) a little worm. We aren’t going to dignify these people with quoting their twitter handle. The point is, there was already some negative traffic around which should have given Qantas pause about launching the campaign – if they were monitoring real time.

There were a couple of innocent retweets of the Qantas tweet and then two from a single account within a minute – one with a nasty response to the hashtag and one to Qantas saying they were going to fail at Twitter. This same individual was having a dialogue with another regarding his poor treatment by Qantas “5 years at platinum, 10 years on Qantas club, stopped and they never even called to ask why”. Clearly someone who has not had a good customer experience with the airline and took the opportunity to vent on the hashtag as well as off it. The individual to whom this was tweeted soon became active with sarcastic responses on the hashtag as well.

This was punctuated by the most ironic tweet of them all  – a report that Qantas had named a shortlist of 4 agencies in its review of marketing activities! Wonder if those agencies still want the brief? Perhaps it’s a pity the selection process was not completed before this program was launched – we suspect it may have remained grounded.

Back to the timeline. Many of these tweets were not on the hashtag, but just on the Qantas stream. However, within 24 mins of the contest being announced we had the first pundits telling everyone the massive failure on the hashtag and exhorting people to have a look and join in! Just under 30 mins after the announcement of the contest, @QantasPR tweets “firing the #qantas marketing dept before the signage dept, now. Not even our intern though #qantasluxury was a good idea”. The tweet was then retweeted quite a number of times. @QantasPR is a parody account (it’s amazing how many people thought it real over subsequent days) and interestingly was created on the weekend of the lockout. Those behind it remain anonymous – as do many who hide behind avatars whilst spewing invective – but they are very clever. In setting up they followed some high profile politicians who automatically follow back gaining a network and influence very quickly. When this started they had some 220 followers but today it stands nearer 1400. But they have stopped following anyone – cleaning up their trail as they go. It also has to be said they have produced some of the wittiest sarcasm on the hashtag.

By the time another anonymous account @virtualelephant comes on and starts retweeting frequently (this account set up Nov 5th with no detail) it was all over the competition. It had become a feeding frenzy and the sharks and trolls were out in force. Meanwhile, on the hashtag itself the first three negative comments came from individuals who describe themselves as a citizen journalism researcher; a senior lecturer in marketing and someone who enjoys working for union members. This last account, @monkeytypist gets active very quickly with negative responses to the tag and from there, it joins with the general Qantas stream and descends into the abyss. Inside that time Mark Colvin from ABC current affairs has retweeted a number of sarcastic responses on his @colvinius handle and it was a free for all.

And perhaps the saddest tweet of all came within an hour – “just love watching the Qantas brand die on twitter”. And there was a lot of this kind of sentiment.

The Players

We saw a lot of inaccurate reports on the overall volume of tweets. Why such differences? Well, the first is the quality of the tools you are using. Good tools distinguish between tweets at a very detailed level of search. Secondly, good tools get rid of spam and exclude it from the analysis – since the purpose of the spam is not to comment or respond to the hashtag. And this one did get seriously spammed for a good part of the afternoon. Twitter eventually sees that spam and removes much of it from the stream but if your realtime tools don’t have good spam filters you are going to get a lot of rubbish. For this analysis, as always, we rely on Sysomos to provide the data:

We are only going to focus on the Twitter stream as this was where the overwhelming bulk of the activity was; though as you can imagine it has generated a deal of news and blog activity:

As you can see the reach of the hashtag stream has been significant. It’s estimated that there were over 17 million impressions of tweets containing this hashtag. It’s interesting when you look at the authority levels of those active on the hashtag. Two thirds of them are considered low authority accounts and only just over one quarter of one percent of them are considered high authority accounts. This actually mitigates to some extent the eventual reach of the campaign and some might argue, the damage it has caused.


The majority of tweets in this case where actually retweets. Just under half the tweets represented an original thought and these were in the main retweeted – on average about once. However, as you can see from the analysis below, there were a small number of very active accounts – just over 1% of the individual accounts sent 8 or more tweets on the hashtag and another 2% sent 5-7 tweets. Clearly, some highly engaged but highly agitated folks on this subject!

The tweets came from all the globe:

This is a really interesting view because the activity certainly came largely from Australia, the US and Northern Europe – the primary destinations for Qantas and the places where many passengers were stranded during the lockout. It is interesting to see tweets from places like Africa and South America – when something goes wrong it goes global quickly on Twitter.

A scan of the 50 most influential tweeps on this hashtag reveals something very interesting – only 1 of those was an actual tweet to the hashtag – either with a direct response response or a sarcastic / parody type response. The other 49 are either social media experts or traditional news sources making commentary on the failure of the campaign. Indeed, without counting them accurately, we feel that almost 50% of the total tweets are commentators on the state of the campaign which tells an interesting story in itself. We suppose that this campaign will certainly make everyone’s list of Top 10 Social Media Mistakes and will be in every class negative case study for the next few years. But as we know, these highly influential accounts were but a fraction of the action so to speak.

SO, who were the most vociferous?:

And this final piece of data may well put the ‘disaster’ into some perspective. The most active account on this hashtag has sent 40 tweets so far. This account has an authority level of 1 and has a grand total of 9 followers at time of writing. A few in this list of most prolific on the hashtag were active on the subject of Qantas prior to this campaign, such as @alexmillier who has been very vocal about policies regarding flying musical instruments. Some of the invective and volume from others is hard to fathom though it’s clear that there were many in the hashtag stream who were just jumping on the bandwagon, trying to get their own influence levels up quickly.


So what do the forensics show us?  What intelligence is there to be gleaned?

Even without the general sentiment surrounding the brand at a time when it has had a recent lock-out, a series of rolling stoppages and is wanting to significantly restructure its business this was a poor time to launch. There were a few real complainants in the twittersphere immediately prior to this launch and Qantas should have seen that and dealt with them. Qantas does have policies on how it deals with complaints on Twitter and Facebook based on levels of influence – but perhaps those need to be reviewed when the brand is in its current position. It could have dealt with some of these issues quickly.

The hashtag had spiralled out of control within 30 mins or so. There were some ‘usual’ suspects in the social streams in Australia involved in that hijacking but by and large it did seem spontaneous. The most active on the tag were, by and large, those with lesser influence. And the most influential on the hashtag were by and large, social media commentators, reflecting on the failure. Many joined the frenzy in an effort to gain some notoriety and influence of their own – there were a lot of new accounts, people changing avatars during the discussion, desperately doing and saying almost anything to get noticed. Some of it in extreme poor taste, some of it invective directed in a very personal way; a little of it very clever in its sarcasm and even less a genuine response. Proving that social media is truly democratised for all and sundry. But there was a lot of it that was just a little sad to see as well.

In the end though, how many in all the 16,000 tweets and 17 million impressions, the endless retweets and commentaries, are regular Qantas flyers who will now change their carrier of choice? How many will make a decision to not book with Qantas when they next fly? How many will be influenced by what they saw on this hashtag? There is just no way to tell at present.

And so, coming back to social media and business goals – is this truly a disaster? It’s certainly a misstep – one many brands make (none of us are perfect) and one that Qantas certainly needs to learn from. But let’s wait to see what the results bring in coming months. In the meantime, we leave the final words to those who participated in the hashtag frenzy:

And what should Qantas do with its 30 first class PJ’s and amenities kits? Give half to the best genuine responses to the tag and half to the best sarcastic responses recognising that it made an error but is ‘big enough’ to deal with it.


Don't Ask!

I often ask my wife her opinion on a work related issue or perhaps how to approach a problem we are wrestling with at iGo2. When I am trying to consider how to approach the solution I often seek another viewpoint because we think very differently.

But when I challenge the opinion or perhaps decide on a different way to approach the solution her response, almost invariably, is “if you don’t care about my opinion then don’t ask for it!”. To which I reply that I am interested in her valuable opinions and insights but that doesn’t always mean I am going to agree with them or adopt them. And so there is gulf between what I am asking for (input to an idea or problem or solution) and what she thinks I am asking for (the solution itself or perhaps an immediate change of direction)

After the latest exchange along those lines earlier this week I got to thinking how often we see this in the social data streams. In our work – social business intelligence, communities and strategy development we see many examples of brands asking for input and never acting on it. Comments lie fallow all over their blog posts or Facebook pages. Polls are run – but how often are the results and the actions then communicated back? We see suggestions in Twitter on how to improve service, response, interaction which are never replied to.

Have a social presence should be an invitation to have a dialogue. Its akin to asking – ‘what do you think?’ when you post a new blog update or status update. When you get a response you must engage your fan or follower or they will feel like “if you don’t care about my opinion then don’t ask”! And likely they will go somewhere that does care. And when you do ask a specific question you should clear on what the outcome of the questioning will be – be clear that you are seeking research data for a project which may or may not be adopted. People understand that not everything they tell you will be accepted or adopted, they just want to know you are listening.

There is nothing worse than commenting on a post, status update, taking a poll and so on only to be completely ignored. What do you think?

Social CRM – Strategy, Product or Consultant's Wet Dream?

We have been reading with interest all the angst on the latest Gartner Magic Quadrant and whether or not solutions deserve to be labelled as ‘Social CRM’. We would certainly argue that the solutions which have been lumped together unceremoniously into this catch all category deserve better treatment. And we would further argue that probably none of them represent a social CRM platform in their own right but all have applicability to some of the use cases for Social CRM.

Equally, we watch with some amusement the positioning of consultants, vendors, ‘gurus’ and experts all attempting to not only make sense of the Magic Quadrant (which is probably impossible) but also to  make the definition of Social CRM as complex as possible. Is Social CRM a product category or a strategy or is it just a consultants wet dream?

We focus on Social Business and in creating our own small market niche we have been very careful to remain CRM vendor neutral. This has been important for two reasons – firstly, I worked for a major CRM vendor for a long time and we wanted to be market neutral to ensure we were not excluded from some customers. Secondly, whilst there is no question that there are a set of more accepted CRM solutions out there; at the end of the day it probably doesn’t matter what solution you chose. That is, we believe that CRM is a strategy first and a tool second. On this point we find ourselves in violent agreement with people like Paul Greenberg.

But in everyone’s rush to make the term ‘Social CRM’ their own, there is a tendency to both over complicate it as well as focus too much on the supporting tools, platforms, workflows and all the other paraphanelia we are meant to complicate this. Again, I am drawn to Greenberg’s definition of Social CRM but I am not sure that all the conditions he describes need to be in place in order to have ‘Social CRM’. And people have focused on the last piece of his definition which speaks of a company’s ‘programmatic response to the customers control of the conversation.’ And I am not convinced by this last statement – I believe that in any relationship each party is in control at different points in the interaction. Its also one of the reasons I hate it when people talk about Social CRM being really Social CMR – Customer Managed Relationship. The reason I hate that is it give brands, companies, organisations, government agencies and small businesses an excuse – ‘I am not in control any longer and I no longer have the ability to manage this.” Just like the new publication ‘No Bullshit Social Media’ lets have ‘No Bullshit Social CRM‘!  Social does not abrogate our responsibility to take the lead and manage the customer relationship – whilst social media democratises the relationship between an organisation and its customers in ways that were not possible before it is still the organisations role to lead the relationship where possible – customers have a choice, organisations do not.

I have always believed that a strategy is a plan to achieve a goal. And being in the group that firmly says strategy first, tools second; shouldn’t we focus just a little more on the goals? Back in the day, I always spoke about the goals of a CRM strategy. And for me, it was always pretty simple. CRM is a strategy for an organisation to create and deliver a consistent, unique and superior customer experience regardless of the channel in which they interact with you. Back then, those channels were phone, email, face to face (remember that, when we actually met people?). And lets just be serious for a moment here folks – these channels work just fine today for a bunch of people. There is still 20% of the worlds population who have never used a phone. And less than 25% of the worlds population today are members of a social network. So lets not get too carried away with our self importance just yet.

But back to topic. If the end goal is this consistent, superior, differentiated customer experience regardless of the channel of interaction (and indeed, across channels) then does that still work in todays world. Absolutely, we just have more channels – Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Blogs, Forums, Name this Social Media channel. So Social CRM is simply a business strategy to deliver a seamless, consistent, superior and differentiated customer experience across all channels – including social ones. And if you need tools for that – then go right ahead, And if you don’t, that’s fine too.

But at least this then gets us thinking about use cases rather than some all encompassing Social CRM platform. Do my customers raise service issues through Twitter? Ok, better look at that. Will customers use social networks to respond to marketing events? Ok, check that. Does my sales team need help to deliver a superior customer experience? Better address that use case.

And this is where I completely agree with Greenberg – this is simply an extension to CRM for some organisations in some use cases made necessary by the communications revolution that is social media. So lets treat it that way and recognise its likely to be different for virtually every organisation. And perhaps stop trying to have a single Magic Quadrant for this thing. Each of the solutions on that quadrant deserve recognition; and we represent a few of them; but not as Social CRM

Will B

Thanks to CloudAve for the Social CRM image