Forget listening. Are you taking action?

The words you’re about to read have been kicking around my shiny bald dome for some time now. I’ve been wanting to share this part of EMC’s social journey, but just haven’t had that ah-ha! moment to put our story into context. @Forrester’s  Zach Hofer-Shall issued a timely rant yesterday asking, “Are you taking action?

Ah-ha, indeed. Without giving away @EMCcorp’s secret social sauce, here’s some insight into how we’re transforming social listening into business intelligence, oh, and figuring out the whole social selling thing, too ;-)

Let’s look at some of the ingredients to that secret sauce: Attensity, Traackr, HootSuite, Jive, Omniture, Salesforce, Aprimo. Dizzying, I know. Each of these plays a huge role. And those are the bigger spokes on our social analytics journey. There are other tools, there are other players, there are a bazillion other factors.

For the past 2 years, EMC has been actively looking at social listening to answer a number of questions. We started with this question, as I suspect most of you did:

What the heck are people saying?

And the second question:

How do I begin to comprehend this stuff?

The advice I’ve been giving to folks asking these questions across EMC is surprisingly apropos, 24 months into this journey: Start small.

We’re lucky to have a framework in place that gives us some context to help folks start small. We aggregate what I call the “how manys” for our social champions. That’s the followers, likes, fans, friends, tweets, posts, blogs and so on that marketing managers like to count in order to show that their respective needle moves. These are important numbers to do some valuable engagement math, but in and of themselves, not valuable. They’re not valuable until given a contextual layer. About nine months ago, the EMC Social Team made the decision to separate social metrics from social listening. We found great variations in the understanding of either data set. Today, we use those “how manys” to lead our marketing brethren into conversations about the context and value they provide social audiences. Awesome stuff to see someone else’s ah-ha! moment when they realize numbers are good, but words are better.

Don’t get me wrong, these metrics reviews are great for executive dashboards. Social listening provides the context that informs what the numbers mean.

Correlation or Causation?

A fun topic. This also helps me help folks engage with the numbers to, well, engage with people. That’s the entire point behind any of this… creating social intelligence from the conversations and interactions between a wide cross-section of audiences. They all relate. They all contribute to the bottom line, however it’s defined. No matter what your particular goal might be in developing a social voice, it’s rooted in the connections you make with audiences. We’re part of a great shift in marketing thinking today… truly developing REAL Social CRM as we go. Are you loving the ride? (Say yes.)

Taking Action

That’s the foundation of EMC’s social journey. Oh, and this fun video:

The message in this video is the cultural foundation we’ve put into place across the company to help folks ease into social, or even validate what we’re up to. (Here’s a bit of additional history.) It’s all about the journey for us, building upon each achievement level before tackling the next. (Hmm… do I smell “gamification?”)

We’ve been methodical from the beginning. We started inside-out, getting employees comfortable with EMC|ONE our internal Jive-based community, then expanded to the EMC Community Network, also on Jive to enable our customers and partners and give them direct access to EMC thought-leaders. Then we explored the blogs and Facebooks and Twitters of the world. Have I mentioned it’s been a fun journey? We have cross-functional teams literally redefining how we connect and collaborate.

Connecting the Dots

Remember the tools I listed above? They each play a supporting role in supporting our journey to social intelligence. We have heavyweight analytic and BI tools, we have lightweight social interaction tools. We’re plugging them all into each other. The end goal is a scalable and repeatable model by which social media fuels the engine that keeps EMC’s funnel swirling. We’re not just taking stock of who’s saying what. We’re taking careful looks at that data to decide how best to interact. Should we route to support? To sales? To PR? Who responds to which tweet? Sometime obvious, sometimes not.

Last fall, I put together a hub and spoke model for our social listening efforts. With the help of some (tiny) friends, I interviewed a number of stakeholders throughout EMC which help define 5 primary use cases where listening could provide tremendous value to our business. These use cases continue today to help us define the plumbing through which our social BI flows.

Some of the implementations seem obvious… for example, we weren’t doing a consistent job of connecting social traffic to, measured with Omniture. We’re getting better at that as it’s literally the foundation upon which you start to build a monitization framework. Get the leads. Simple, right?

Sort of.

So we think we have a “social lead.” What do we do with it? Again, EMC is extremely lucky to have the industry’s best social team housed WITHIN our inside sales org. These folks are doing bleeding edge work connecting with customers and partners, helping them find the answers and solutions they need. This team is leading the charge into putting putting Benioff’s money where his mouth is. We’re starting to make Salesforce part of this process. It’s a huge cultural shift. How do we change the habits of very successful sales people who are used to booking big deals old school style, often with a Blackberry as the technology of choice.

The Grail

Aprimo? Oh yeah… getting social there, too. Our social intelligence workstreams all point to the holy social CRM grail. Our 2012 vision has our social conversations treated as true business intelligence. When we see it through, EMC will truly be drinking its own champagne. We’ll look at social BI as one data source feeding one of our sexy Greenplum DCAs. And we’ll share it with data geeks across the EMC globe, Facebook-style.

Can’t wait to see where this takes us, but social’s day is certainly coming.

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