Pre-Social Shake-Up Workshops Emphasize Knowing the Customer

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There were several pleasant surprises during the opening hours of The Social Shake-Up Show earlier today in Atlanta. First, for a show that’s sold-out, those who attended any of the three pre-show workshops felt anything but crowded. In fact, attendees received plenty of personal attention from the session’s leaders. During the sold-out session on customer journey maps (CJM) that Tangerine Lab’s CEO Banafsheh Ghassemi led, she weaved around the room as attendees worked to create their own CJMs.

Attendees, seated in small groups at tables fitted out with butcher paper, colored dots, tape, sticky notes and Sharpie markers (see photo), were given fair warning early: They wouldn't be sitting for long. “You’re going to be on your feet for most of this session,” Ghassemi said. “Creativity starts to decline when you sit.” As such the groups were instructed to find a spot in the room away from their table to stand and work.

The meat of the session had each group creating a CJM after instruction from Ghassemi and a great video. In short, a CJM is a “holistic narrative of your customer’s experience from their perspective,” Ghassemi says. A video showed how to map the journey of a customer buying coffee. The journey included the customer deciding which coffee shop to visit, traveling to the shop, entering the establishment, waiting on line, making a decision about which coffee to purchase, interacting with the barista, waiting for the coffee, paying for it and finally drinking. Along the journey there are on-stage elements (visible to the customer) and backstage elements (things the customer doesn’t see) that contribute to the experience. At each point along the journey the customer’s emotion is documented.

The most important aspect of CJM, Ghassemi said, is that “it’s done from the customer’s perspective,” including what the customer thinks and experiences and what he/she really needs. This is why it's critical for customers to be part of the process when a brand creates a CJM, she says. Sometimes this is done through customer interviews.  Adding complexity to CJMs is that you create various customer personas, Ghassemi noted, since not all customers are the same and won’t react the same way during their journey.

The point of creating a CJM is to close the gap between what customers really want and what your brand is providing or not providing. With an accurate CJM, brands should be able to find touch points along the customer journey that are misaligned—not delivering good customer experience, for example—and can attempt to correct them. The maxim Ghassemi wanted attendees to leave with: Your [customer’s] experience is only as great as your weakest link. CJM can be applied to various parts of a business, Ghassemi says, including a brand’s social media marketing, thus its inclusion at the Social Shake-Up.

Another workshop, on how to make the case to build online communities, also hewed to business scenarios and featured group work. In fact, one of its speakers, Vanessa DiMauro, CEO, Leader Networks, is a business-school professor. As such, she and colleague Jessica Fish, senior strategist at Leader Networks, emphasized the need for social media leaders to speak in the language of the boardroom and use business metrics when making the case for online communities. Instead of approaching the creation of an online community by emphasizing the technology that could be featured, such as apps and widgets, DiMauro said it’s critical for social media strategists to tell business leaders what pain points online communities can solve for them. “Where your organization’s needs overlap with customers’ needs is where the [online] community will be born,” she said.

The online communities session was similar to the CJM workshop in its emphasis on customer needs. DiMauro urged attendees to make their case for online communities by listening to what customers and executives want. “What drives them?” Like the CJM process, DiMauro said making a strong case for online communities could involve customer interviews. In addition, it's helpful to find out about customer needs by doing research and even monitoring customer-service calls.

We loved one of the takeaways (shakeaways?) from another workshop, which centered on how to create and optimize content discovered in a Google search. Carolyn Shelby, Tronc’s SEO director, urged attendees “to invest in your home, not your rental property.” That was her way of saying the goal of social media is “to drive people to your website [your home], not to your other social platforms [the rentals].” And make sure, she said, to put keywords in your social media. She told of a pizza brand that failed to include the word “pizza” in posts featuring gorgeous, mouthwatering pictures of its pizza. Related points: Include words and phrases in your social content that you want customers to use when searching for your product; provide value in your content; and be consistent.

You also had to love the lively presentation of Topher Kohan, senior product manager, SEO/ASO, The Weather Company, an advocate of data, who tempered his remarks by saying, “Don’t blindly listen to tools.”

Kohan also emphasized the importance of brands’ mobile sites as Google has said it’s going to be using mobile content for its rankings and search. Other Kohan pearls: “Know your site better than anyone in your building…because you’ll be able to talk about it better…but also empower members of your team.”

As in the above two sessions, an emphasis on knowing the customer was paramount in the SEO workshop: “Know your audience and know what they want,” Kohan said, but he also noted, “You are too close to your content…you know it better than your audience.” His advice: Ask a barista, “Have you heard about X?” Ask anyone, a cab driver, your mother…“they’re a lot more like your audience than you are.”

And finally, test, retest and keep learning. Things change so quickly in social and SEO, all the panelists said. Added Allison Fabella, global director, SEO, CareerBuilder.com, “I don’t read anything [about SEO] that’s more than one year old.”

We always enjoy providing tips. Here are two: Sign up now for next year’s Social Shake-Up and convince your boss to allow you to attend the pre-show workshops.

Follow Seth: @skarenstein