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January 12, 2011


2011 Social Media Prediction

by deirdrewalsh

This morning, I spoke alongside some all-stars at the Social Media Breakfast-Austin.  We were asked to grade ourselves on predictions we made on social media in the beginning of 2010 as well as share insights into what 2011 has in store.  I’m sharing my thoughts below, and I would love to her your opinions and predictions as well.

2010 was the year of the Social Media Pangaea. Taking you back to 5th-grade geography, pangaea was the supercontinent.

Last year, National Instruments saw that the continental plates for social business literally shifted both how we were structured organizationally and technologically.  This change allowed us to bridge the conversations happening inside and outside the firewall.  In practical terms, this meant we connected our branded community for customers, which Aaron Strout talked about last year, our various communities on the social Web (Facebook, YouTube, Twitter), and our strong employee network.

What that allowed us to do was utilize the strengths of each platform.  For example, at NI, no industry represents more than 15 percent of our revenue.  Therefore, on any given day, I’m participating in conversations in our customer community and on the Social Web about robotics, aerospace and medical devices.  Now, I obviously am not an expert in all or even any of those things but there are NI engineers that are subject area experts.  So by bridging the external conversations with our employee network, I’m able to quickly identify and get help from the guy in the building over who maybe wearing socks with his sandals in 20 degree weather, but that can answer how to best program a robot.

By forming the Social Media Pangaea, there were many benefits: we enhanced product development since we were able to easily connect customer ideas to the R&D process, provided better support, and our marketing efforts both traditionally and socially improved.

So, what’s next?  After having an inspirational and information conversation with Aaron this morning, I decided the biggest trend is going to be Fax Marketing!

All kidding aside, I did a research study of our domestic customer base and found that 41 percent of our users are active in our community on a monthly basis.  But what’s even more important is that the more active someone is, the more likely they are to recommend NI, repeat purchase products or to purchase new products.  So, what this means is that the more active someone is in the community (branded and social) the more satisfied and loyal they are with us as a company.  Now, this isn’t a shock.  The reason they are active could be that they like us a lot.  But what we also found is that 72% of new customers use the community as well as on average visitors to the community are a lot more engaged – spending longer time, viewing 5X more pages than on other site areas, etc.

So knowing this info, means I’m going to focus on quality not quantity in a lot of different areas.  I call this year’s trend the Death of The Coachroach King.

As a community and social media managers, once you build your pangaea one of the first things you do is try to fill it.  You set targets around amount of user-generated content to improve SEO, members, fan page likes on Facebook, etc. It’s all about the mass.  But for a B2B, once you reach a critical mass (for us that means that community currently makes up 20% of overall site traffic), you go back to your roots and begin to truly reward and amplify the voices of the top contributors.  This is a notion that’s really well outlined in Joseph Jaffe’s book Flip the Funnel, but by really by focusing on your current customers you will be able to get new customers.  From a measurement standpoint my community health metrics are more about things like activity per visitor and RTs.  Now I don’t predict this will be easy to change (especially internally), but it will be better for business in the long-run.

In conclusion, 2010 was about building a social media pangaea and in 2011 it will be about rewarding its citizens.


4 Comments Post a comment
  1. ridingo
    Jan 12 2011

    D…awesome observations. I need to get you to come talk with our folks. It’s prehistoric over here…. still..

  2. Jan 12 2011

    Thanks for sharing your 2011 predictions here and at today’s Social Media Breakfast – Austin.

    If you’re predicting that instead of building the Pangaea, it’s now about its citizens (one-on-one?), how, as a community manager, can you handle possibly more interaction in a one-on-one citizen model? Do you see new tools created to focus down to the “micro” level?

  3. Jan 12 2011

    Great post Deirdre!

    I am really disappointed that I had to leave SMB early today and I missed your predictions.

    I have recently gotten interesting in understanding how people organize social media campaigns and what they measure. Am interesting in hearing your thoughts.

    I was wondering that with so many people tweeting and reaching out to customers, how do you keep everything organized?

    Also, what other measurements besides “activity per visitor” and “RTs” do you measure to judge the effectively of your social media campaigns?

    Thanks again for this enlightening post.


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