We’re back at C3 and starting out with “A Conversation With the Networks”:

Doug Kilponen, SVP Biz Dev, Merchant Circle

John Kim, VP, Products, Pelago

Sumir Meghani, Director BD, Groupon

Jed Nachman, VP Sales, Yelp

Kim – If you can create content and connect with other people, it’s social media

Meghani – Groupon has two types of social interactions – between businesses and consumers (the deal) and between consumers (getting each other to hit the tipping point for the deal).  Groupon started out as a customer acquisition but we’ve shifted to a focus on customer retention.

Sterling – Do SMBs do a better job in social than big enterprises?

Kim – Large brands are starting to get it because they realize they have to be where the customer is.  “Pockets” of SMBs get it, but enterprises are focused on ownership of social channels and metrics around it.

Kilponen – We are focused on authenticity in social conversations.  Enterprises have a harder time pushing the conversations down to the person who should be answering the questions (e.g. a local hotel manager would be better than a centralized social media person).

Nachman – For large enterprises with local presence (e.g. 24 HR Fitness), how do you interact at a local level with 25,000 reviewers spread out across the country?

Kim – The trend next year is that enterprises will lead the way because they are resourced better.

Nachman – The local general manager can get judged by the social chatter so they have an incentive to interact in an authentic way. SMBs by nature are stubborn.  They don’t want a boss and they don’t want to have to deal with angry socially vocal customers.  Our coaching is to send someone an individual private message to try and handle the problem offline.  When a customer is disputing a fact (e.g. the price of a margarita) that might be more appropriate to handle in a public forum.

Kim – Instead of looking at social in a reactive way, we recommend proactive strategies to develop ways for the community to say good things about you. Marie Callender’s built a recommendation service about how to bring family’s together at meal time. They had identified that as a problem for their customers. This created a large amount of social engagement by brand, which Whrrl measured at the store level.

Meghani – Social Media Platforms must help marketers do both customer acquisition and customer service. The Gap deal created a lot of unanticipated inbound customer service issues.

Kilponen – NJ Plumber spending 3-4 hrs/day on Merchant Circle answering questions. “The Car Talk of Toilets”. His MC profile gets 20K+ pvs/month.

Nachman – Local massage advertiser had to staff up for Yelp group buying deal. Businesses are starting to come up with strategies for dealing with group buying events.

Kim – This is watershed year for social. Smartphone penetration will hit 50%. Brands/merchants will not be able to ignore.

Nachman – The concept of a campaign will start to go away this year. Social is constant. Marketers, especially at the enterprise level, need to understand that marketing is shifting from campaign mindset to building a scalable ongoing communications strategy.

and we’re done.

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