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The ABCs and 123s of Social Listening

The Greek philosopher Epictetus once said, “We have two ears and one mouth so that we can listen twice as much as we speak.” This is an important adage to embrace, especially with social media marketing programs. Listening enables you to understand what people expect from your brand and how they feel about your products. It can also give you valuable insights to guide your strategy and develop deeper, more meaningful relationships with your customers.

All too often, a common failure with brands is that they speak twice as much as they listen – or worse yet, they don’t listen at all:

  • 56% of customer tweets to companies are being ignored (source)
  • 70% of brands ignore complaints on Twitter (source)
  • 39% of companies do not track their social media responses at all, and 55% ignore all customer feedback on Twitter and Facebook, largely because they have no process in place to respond (source)

Companies who fail to listen are losing an opportunity to satisfy and engage customers, and they also miss out on other strategic benefits. Listening delivers great value during the strategic planning process as well as in tactical operations. It can help you:

  • Identify emerging trends
  • Provide competitive insights
  • Discover product issues and concerns
  • Manage crisis and mitigate risk
  • Uncover sales leads
  • Find influencers and advocates
  • Guide your content marketing strategy

Sophisticated listening guides our approach at Cisco. We implemented a Social Media Listening Center (SMLC) to visualize conversations that are relevant to us. Our listening center started out as a single-screen display outside of our CMO’s office. Now, it is a multi-screen experience that enables customized visualizations in real time. It features conversations related to our brand, trends, influencers, and sentiment, as well as short-term activities such as new product launches, major campaigns/sponsorships, and our annual customer conference, Cisco Live.

But listening alone is not enough. Today’s social media savvy customers expect companies not only to listen, but also to respond. A study by Edison Research found that 67% of people want a response within 24 hours or less. This is where the “ABCs and 123s of Social Listening” comes into play.

ABCs

Step 1:  Action-Based Conversations (ABCs)

Cisco is mentioned 5-7K times a day and roughly 3% of those conversations are actionable. Using our listening tools, we developed a process to help filter out the noise and identify the ABCs. These conversations are then categorized into one of the six categories below:

  • Support – Request for help resolving real-time issue
  • Question – General inquiries and product questions
  • Critic – Conversations that merit brand management consideration
  • Buzz – Praise from Cisco fan or advocate
  • Lead – Pronouncement of near-term purchase decision
  • Idea – Request to enhance a product with a new feature

Step 2:  123s

After we identify and categorize the ABCs, we then prioritize them into 3 levels. Priority 1 conversations typically have a 24-hour response time, and priority 2 conversations have a 72-hour response time. Priority 3 conversations fall in the discretionary response category.

Step 3:  Route and Respond

Once conversations are tagged, they are routed through our social content management platform to the appropriate team members and experts who can provide a response within the designated time frame.

Step 4:  Measure and Evaluate

As with any marketing program, it’s extremely important to measure your results and set targets for success. At Cisco, we began by tracking baseline metrics such as the number of action-based conversations and replies. Now we also track reach, revenue from listening for leads, average response time and adherence to SLAs (i.e. response posted within the recommended time period). We monitor these performance indicators and make adjustments to the program as needed to ensure continued success for Cisco and our customers.

Listening isn’t always easy, but it’s well worth the effort. The more you listen and interact with those who are talking about your company, the greater opportunity you have to build connections and increase the visibility of your brand. Having a formal program in place to not only listen, but also respond offers many rewards ranging from increased customer satisfaction to positive brand perception to new revenue opportunities. Just remember your listening ABCs and 123s, and you will be well on your way to creating meaningful relationships with your customers.

Social Selling in Action—Part 3: Regional Rollout, Regional Strengths

As the number of users of social media continues to grow, the boundary between our personal and professional  lives begins to overlap. Unsurprisingly, the customer buying cycle is also beginning to change. By the time a prospect has reached out to a sales rep, in most cases they already know what they want because they’ve done their research on social channels, canvassed their peers on community forums and downloaded materials.  Where the customer goes, so does sales.

Carolyn Charles, Project Specialist and Bernard Chiu, Project Specialist, have been helping to lead the effort to transform traditional selling at Cisco into social selling. Their social selling strategy leverages the skills and expertise of Cisco sales reps by giving them the tools and support they need to interact and engage with customers in this new and constantly changing environment.

I spoke with Carolyn and Bernard separately to discuss the innovation that is taking place within the Social Selling program.

In part 3 of a 3-part series, Carolyn talks about regional differences and how different groups are leveraging new social selling capabilities. Read Part 1: Innovation Starts with Sales for an introduction to the social selling program at Cisco.  Read Part 2: Attribution for Accurate Metrics for a view into how Cisco is tracking the impact of Social Selling.


JR:  You’ve rolled out Social Selling into APJC (Asia Pacific, Japan, China) and EMEAR (Europe, Middle East, Africa, Russia), how are things going? Have you noticed any differences in how the regions are adopting these new capabilities?

Carolyn Charles: There’s a lot of excitement and passion, particularly in the APJC region. Each region works quite differently with the technology. Twitter is more likely to be used in the Americas than in EMEAR, but ultimately the teams all have a very similar style of working. They all are on  the same page wanting to be involved and using the latest and greatest technology—they’re willing to try anything. I found that the APJC sales team really enjoys the one-on-one connection that LinkedIn enables. Many of them are in new roles and are eager get started and feel that Social Selling is an ideal way to meet their new customers.

 

The Americas team is a little further along in the program because that is where it was rolled out first.  For EMEAR & APJC, this is quite new and they have a real passion for it; they are thinking outside the box and actually innovating beyond what we have formally rolled out. For example, one of the sales reps in EMEAR has created a group for his partners. They are thinking creatively and are pioneering new ways of working with their customers and prospects.

JR: Have there been any surprises in the Social Selling program?

CC: I never thought we’d get SQLs (Sales Qualified Leads) so quickly. We were very surprised it happened so soon and so quickly. I was also pleasantly surprised how up for it the sales guys are—how supportive they’ve been. I haven’t heard anyone saying “oh, not another thing they’re making us do” but rather “yeah, this is going to work.”  They’re getting marketing support and wanting to use it in their everyday efforts, and they’re also taking the initiative and trying things on their own.

JR: At a high level, what have you learned from the program?

CC: The adoption has reflected some generational differences. Our team are generally early in career and are thus actively involved in finding the best ways to use social media in their day-to-day life. They are not just using what we give them, but are actively suggesting and trying new ideas. I’ve learned there are so many new ways to communicate, and that the sales team like to control how they communicate with their network through the type and frequency of posts they use. I think these new methods of communicating will help our sales team develop new contacts, which can be really hard to do.

JR: What do you think of the status of Social Selling at Cisco?

CC: I’m really proud that on our “Full Circle Giving Back” day, when our VP John Donovan was asked by the CEO of the charity we were supporting how they can increase their visibility to potential contributors, John said social media is the way forward. The scope of how you reach people is much bigger today, and it’s how people want to connect.  I think it shows he is 150% behind the initiative.  I think Cisco, on the whole, is on par with most other enterprises of this size, but I also think there is a lot of excitement. There’s been a shift — new talk from Cisco’s leadership that sounds very powerful. “Be amazing or be surpassed” was one call out that resonated with me personally. I think this is what customers want and how our social network will evolve. It’s going to get more and more exciting.


Jennifer Roberts (@rideboulderco) is a Social Media Marketing Manager and leads the Social Selling program. Carolyn Charles is a Project Specialist and co-leads the Social Selling program.

Tell the Video Monitor “Ahh”: High Tech Healthcare Serves Patients

With all the frenzied fanfare normally surrounding the debut of new Apple products, the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus were recently introduced to the masses. And though these new phones were the big news of the day for the technology giant, the Apple Watch is what the healthcare industry has its eyes on.

Released alongside the new iPhones, the Apple Watch is able to sync with apps that track wearers’ basic health and fitness activity trends, including heart rate and travelled distance on a run. More than a timekeeper, Apple’s most robust entry into the “wearables” market meets users at the intersection of technology and health, competing with standalone smart watches, fitness trackers and other multi-functional devices.

While the early reviews on how much the smart watch will revolutionize the industry are still inconclusive, the overall enthusiasm from consumers demonstrates how technology continues to rapidly change the face and future of healthcare – and how ready we are to embrace it. This embrace, of course, comes as no surprise to champions of telehealth and telecare. Technology has been a major influencer on Cisco’s Jordan Healthcare Initiative, demonstrating how technology can bridge gaps in patient care and bring about quality of life that wasn’t conceivable before.

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Enabling the Branch for the Mobile Cloud Era

This week at Interop New York, Cisco launched to its customers and partners advancements in access routing to help partners transform businesses’ networks to support cloud and mobile solutions – the new Cisco ISR 4000 Series. This new series powers the Cisco Intelligent WAN (IWAN) to deliver an end-to-end solution that aids bandwidth constraints of aging networks. This transforms the entire network down to the branch level.

In case you missed our partner event about the latest news, be sure to visit the partner page for a replay of the partner webcast and additional information. You can also check out our short video, which summarizes everything into a quick overview.

The next several years provide a huge sales opportunity. This is a true win-win situation for partners. You win with significant up-sell opportunities. Your customers win with simple, seamless, and secure IT management for their network infrastructures. Read More »

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Apple’s Vote of Confidence for Voice and Text over Wi-Fi

I recently had the pleasure to read an excellent article by one of our industry’s leading analysts, Mr. Gabriel Brown of Heavy Reading titled “Analyzing Apple & VoLTE”. In this article, he makes the observation, that Apple – which is well known for keeping a strong focus towards their customer’s enjoying a high quality of experience – has included Voice over LTE (VoLTE) in their newest iPhones.  Mr. Brown goes on to quite rightly note that by including VoLTE, Apple makes the case that mobile operators now need an IP Multimedia Core Network Subsystem (IMS core) and a functioning VoLTE service.

Figure 1: Cisco VNI Global Mobile Data Forecast 2013-2018

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While I absolutely agree that Apple has provided a strong endorsement to VoLTE by including support for this feature, I believe that the Apple iPhone6 support for Voice over Wi-Fi (VoWiFi) and Text over Wi-Fi maybe as important (or more so).  Let me explain.  VoLTE is really a fact of life, it is going to happen and as long as a cell phone supports LTE it will be able to make or receive VoLTE calls as long as the carrier implements to network accordingly.  However, Wi-Fi has long been maligned as the poor step-child of mobile broadband.  Mostly because it is unruly (unlicensed) and anyone can deploy it (don’t have to be a carrier).  And while the distance limitations and handoffs (Wi-Fi to 3G or to LTE) play a big role too those issues are being addressed (at least by Cisco).  However, several reports, including Cisco’s own well regarded Visual Networking Index (VNI) for Global Mobile Data Traffic, show that mobile data usage over Wi-Fi is over 40% in 2013.  In fact, it is projected that there will be more traffic offloaded from cellular networks onto Wi-Fi than remain on cellular networks by 2018 (that’s less than four years away).

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