Morning Keynote: Open Leadership is the New Social Order

Charlene Li, the founder of Altimeter Group and author of “Open Leadership” opened the DIGIDAY:SOCIAL conference with a discussion on how companies must be more open with their customers.  According to Li, open leadership is “having the confidence and humility to give up the need to be in control while inspiring commitment from people to accomplish goals.”

Li described ten elements of openness, organized in two areas:

Information sharing

  • Explaining
  • Updating
  • Conversing
  • Open Mic
  • Crowdsourcing
  • Platforms

Decision making

  • Centralized
  • Democratic
  • Consensus
  • Distributed

Levels of openness can be demonstrated by the depth of communication in the social media space.  Li described a socialgraphic pyramid with five activities, and she enumerated what percentages of participants take these actions:

Curating               <1%

Producing            26%

Commenting      34%

Sharing                 63%

Watching             78%

Li described four goals that define an open strategy.  The most important is the willingness to learn.  This is necessary for the remaining three goals: dialog, support, and innovate.

She used a 2×2 matrix, with axes along optimism and collaboration to determine four open leadership types:

  • Cautious Tester (Collaborative, Pessimist)
  • Worried Skeptic (Independent, Pessimist)
  • Transparent Evangelist (Independent, Optimist)
  • Realist Optimist (Collaborative, Optimist)

Li then listed four steps through which a company can improve their open leadership:

1.       Align openness with strategic goals (chose a goal upon which to focus)

2.       Prepare your organization (have a triage map)

3.       Understand the value (look at customer lifetime value)

4.       Prepare for failure (Google’s mantra: “Fail fast, fail smart”)

In order to achieve open leadership, it’s critical to focus on relationships, not technologies (or as I like to say, keep the social in social media!)

Keynote Panel – Putting Your Money Where Their Mouths Are: Resources and Results in Social Media

In order to help answer the question “what’s my ROI?”, a panel discussed how companies are spending on social media, how and what they are measuring, and what executives expect to get out of social media.

Tom Gerace, Founder and CEO of Gather.com (moderator)

Mike Lazerow, CEO of Buddy Media

Leslie Hall, President of ICED Media

Sean Mahoney, Client Services at Facebook

Gerace opened with an anecdote that described how value (in his story’s case, spending at a restaurant) can be easily created from a social recommendation.  Mahoney believes that social media is not much different than word-of-mouth marketing, just at scale.  The value is based on one-to-one dialogues between brands and consumers, much like consumers communicate with one another.  He described Starbuck’s investment in using Facebook as a platform as a marketing tool, to communicate their promotions on an always-on model.  They could track, for example, how on-going pastry sales benefitted from a “Free Pastry Day” advertised on Facebook.

Hall agreed that identifying objectives up front in critical, whether it’s brand awareness or driving sales.  The customer must have the discipline to continue to track its activities.  She notes that monitoring is required to understand what will drive sales, as click-through rates and conversion rates are not always aligned.  Lazerow doesn’t believe that social media tracking is identical to traditional internet tracking, because new tools with a better ability to enter a dialogue at scale are being introduced all the time (e.g., Facebook).  Companies can now activate 500 million users by marketing through Facebook.

Brands on Facebook count fans, according to Hall.  It’s critical how to understand how a fan will react to an ad versus how an unaffiliated individual will react.  She recommends investing in the growth of a fan page so that a company has a set of fans to activate when they post a promotion or information through a status update.  Every brand need to find their own voice, according to Mahoney.  They need to determine what number of fans they want to attract and how they want to use them.

Creative content for social media may be owned by a brand or an agency partner.  The key is to include social at the foundation.  For the first time, Hall shared, brands are thinking about how their content will look on blogs, Facebook, or the like.  Lazerow notes that sometimes the best content on a social media site isn’t traditional creative content.  Brands can create engagement inexpensively by asking questions of their fans and customers.  In regard to a question on spend, Lazerow notes that Facebook is not just a marketing channel for social, but THE marketing channel.  If your brand is not advertising there, then you’re not maximizing your ability to scale.  Gerace closed with the thought that social media cascades whether you start with two users or two thousands.  Therefore it’s critical that a brand push to develop a base of fans or followers.

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