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June 2010

how to: evaluate a listening vendor

listen With dozens of listening/social monitoring/engagement management vendors out there, finding the one that's right for you can be quite daunting.  Every vendor looks the same on the surface, at wildly varying prices and most claim the others have significant flaws that they do not.  Many also claim to have anything you ask for "coming soon" (but that's the same answer you heard last year!).  With this in mind, I thought I would put together an overview guide, outlining a few of the key components you should look for when conducting your own reviews of the space.

Who should conduct my vendor review?

Whoever is going to be leading the project activation should lead the review.  That said, serious input needs to come from your Product Leads, PR/Corp Comms, Marketing, Research and Analytics teams, not to mention your agencies and any relevant consultants.  Notice that I just listed pretty much everyone.  Whoever this poor person is leading this team is going to need to work closely with and across multiple teams.  Listening will not be effective in a silo.  This is real business.  If you don't have someone that is highly knowledgeable and fairly experienced, consider enlisting a consultant to assist.  If you would like a referral, please feel free to email me.

You may find that there are disparate needs across your teams that cannot be met by one vendor, in which case you will have to decide if you are willing to accept a two or three vendor solution.  Multiple vendors will make your teams more agile but will generally cost more in both vendor fees, not to mention the headache that is back-end integration across overlapping efforts - all of which will occur on your own time and dime.

Three Types of Listening Solutions

  1. Self Service Tools - give you the tools to do all your own work.  These firms may offer consultative services along with the initial setup.
  2. Full Reporting Services - provide regular reporting based on your needs.  Some of these vendors may not "own" their own tools, relying on "white labeling" Self Service platforms.
  3. Reporting and Strategy - bring solutions to the table. These firms may also provide activation services.

Hint: Technology will not get you to the promised land.  Knowing your own business culture, if staffing or learning on-the-fly is going to be an issue, don't go with a Self Service tool.  Most Full Reporting and Reporting and Strategy vendors will have a live interface for your real-time needs should you desire a deeper dive.

Five Types of Capabilities

  1. Real Time Data - often with minimal analytic depth, real time data provides the flexibility you need to stay current and in the now.  This will generally be most relevant for conversational engagement and crisis management.
  2. Advanced Data Manipulation Tools - these tools include author analysis (age, sex, location), social graph analysis (who is connected to whom, engages with whom, how and what does this mean), meme flow analysis (how did the story spread), influencer identification and more.
  3. Insight Generation Services - not everyone is great at conducting primary research that nets an actionable insight or brand platform.  But crunching all those numbers and overlaying human insights take quite a bit of time, investment and skill.
  4. Conversation Management - between twitter, blogs, forums, facebook and more, there are millions of conversations taking place everyday.  Getting the right people responding to and participating in the right conversations at the right time requires both a well designed business infrastructure and the tools of the trade to manage the team and track progress.
  5. Consultative Services - having access to data and even insights is not the same as knowing how to drive your business with this data and insights at hand.  Consultative services often include social business design, social communications training and management and social policy consulting.

Data Gathering

Everyone claims to gather "millions of sources" yet when you need that one community or site it doesn't seem to be in their database. 

Data sources typically include Twitter, public Facebook pages, profiles and updates, all public blogs and blog comments, all public forums and responses, a selection of video sites and the comments on those videos,  a selection of Q&A sites (like Yahoo Answers), a selection of consumer review sites (like Amazon and Yelp) and coverage of News media.  No vendor covers everything perfectly.  Also, if you require access to password protected sites, this may require a different set of technologies or services to gather and synthesize.  Some vendors are beginning to offer integration with Customer Contact Centers (call centers, email support transcripts etc), as well as integration with traditional web metrics packages for more traditional web metrics overlays.  Additionally, the more reporting-focused vendors offer some nice insights based on non-traditional tools such as Google Search Trends and Facebook's Media buying platform. 

*Updated* Global scalability will be key to any global business.  Global scalability not only requires that local sources (such as boards in China) are properly gathered, but that data scoring and analysis are available in the particular dialect you are gathering.  Translation engines just aren't accurate enough, yet.  Additionally, as conversational norms and social interactions will differ by culture, it's is imperative that analysts have a deep familiarity with the local language and culture.  Kudos to Mike from Visible Tech for pointing this out.  Just slipped my mind when writing this post originally.

Note that meaningful "big picture" analysis or benchmark analysis will require historical perspective.  While some vendors only begin to gather data after the contract has been signed, some vendors claim to have 2-3 years of historical data available, often for an additional fee.

Hint: Ask the vendor how they gather their data.  Many vendors license the same handful of feeds.  Most of these feeds are incomplete or not as comprehensive as they would appear to be.  Few vendors have access to the Twitter "firehose" which allows unlimited data access, so few will have full twitter coverage.  That said, no vendor will be perfect.  Find the compromise that works best for you.

Data Types, Coverage and Accuracy

There is no shortage of social metrics or analysis approaches.   Focus on what you believe will be most meaningful and actionable with an eye towards testing and learning as you go.  Don't forget to test and learn!

  • Sentiment: Sentiment is the ability to determine if if the conversation is positive or negative, often represented on a five point scale.  Sentiment generally comes in two flavors: gross sentiment and topic level sentiment.  Gross sentiment is the total tone of the post or posts in aggregate.  Topic level sentiment is the sentiment around a specific item.  Topic level sentiment is a must have for any meaningful analysis or trending.  Unfortunately, while the technology behind affordable automated sentiment is often highly hyped, most solutions fall flat in the real world.  Also, a strong sentiment solution for an automotive client may not be as accurate when it comes to consumer packaged goods clients.  Look for a sentiment solution that includes a layer of machine learning based on human inputs, that understands grammar and syntax, and has a process for continued learning and optimization.  Most importantly, RUN YOUR OWN SENTIMENT BENCHMARKS FOR EACH VERTICAL.
  • Trending: Pie charts are nice.  Histograms are pretty.  Challenge the vendor to explain how each of their trending tools enable insight generation.  Make them show you real examples.  Everything is groovy in theory, but the second you identify that this one chart isn't clickable, or that the only view of the data is a laundry list of millions of posts, you'll regret you choice in vendor.
  • Meme Analysis: A meme is a social theme.  As many tools rely on keyword lists to create a theme, this analysis can become quite tedious.  There are a number of vendors offering automated theme identification, as well as theme trending and association.  These tools can make your life a lot easier further down the road should they prove accurate and reliable.  A popular usage of Meme Analysis would be Message Flow Analysis, tracking how a story spreads across the web.
  • Search/Reputation Analysis: This analysis typically looks at high ranking items in your brand's search results, categorizes these results and provides trending data as it relates to these results.
  • Author Analysis/Influencer ID: This is a fun one.  Influencers come in three flavors: General Influencer, On Topic Influencer and Network Influencer.  General Influencers demonstrate influence overall.  On Topic Influencers demonstrate influence as it relates to your specific topic.  Network Influencers demonstrate influence across their node within a network, but not necessarily across a broader network due to strong internal overlap within the particular network.  Typical influencer indicators/metrics include inbound links (total, recent, on topic), comments/responses (total, recent, on topic), followers/subscribers/readers/hits/network reach, and shares/likes/embeds/retweets/pass-along.  Some influencer tools will give you more flexibility and control than others, but the technology won't land the ship without some strong human interaction.  A few vendors have introduced systems that aim to deliver "single ID" systems whereby an influencer's multiple social accounts across different platforms are aggregated into a single ID.
Other types of author analysis include age/sex/location data.  This data is rarely available at scale.  Most vendors offering this data rely on weak solutions, such as IP address tracking (this is too accurate because most conversational media is hosted by a third party).  Other vendors will approach the a/s/l data set by starting with a defined audience based on third party data or site metrics.  This approach has it flaws as well.  At the end of the day this one will come down to (a) how important this data is to you, and (b) how accurate you really need it to be.  Manual tagging is always an option, but it will rarely scale.  Manual identification is general reserved for Focused and Diary analysis (see below).
  • Integrated Analysis:  Your brand already invests in research.  You already have more than a few KPIs, brand health and Marketing Mix Models in your back pocket.  A good study starts by looking at what you already know and ends by integrating with your business solutions and metrics.
  • 30K Foot Analysis: This approach looks at your data in aggregate, highlighting broad trends.  For this analysis, it's all about scale.
  • Focused Analysis: This approach doesn't look to analyze every single post.  Rather, Focused Analysis dives very deep on a select group, delivering far more insight but generally at a lesser scale.
  • Diary Analysis: This approach highlights a smaller group of individuals and tracks the individuals rather than the brand.  Insights are often related to their lifestyles and emotional drives rather than brand conversations.
  • Data Ownership:  You may think this is a minor point, but when you need to transition to a new vendor and suddenly lose access to the past year's work and scored data, trust me, you will wish you had this sorted out in advance.  Make sure you own all your own data and that all of your data is exportable as a CSV.

Flexibility/Data Interface

  • Interface Usability and Flexibility:  You will be spending a lot of time with the tool.  Data presentation and interface usability will save or cost you hours of frustration.  Get to know the tools, where they overlap and where various systems may not yet come together.  Spend a good deal of time with it.  Learn it's quirks before you sign on with the vendor.
  • Data Flexibility: Is ALL of the data exportable?  Is there a meaningful/usable/accessible API?  What strategic partnerships does the vendor offer?  How do these partnerships align with your existing relationships?  Consider the likelihood of your company to invest in building cross-platforms integrations before falling in love with vendor APIs.  Another point to consider would be real-time alerts.  Alerts can be emails, text messages, etc.  While many alerts solutions simply send a notification every time your brand is mentioned, some solutions are beginning to explore smarter alert solutions.  In theory, these solutions would only alert you when a certain threshhold has been passed, such as "A 300% increase in conversation about a given topic over a given period of time with strong sentiment displayed."  This will be a great tool to have in your toolkit.
  • Pricing Flexibility:  How easy is it to add or detract services?  To try new services?  To scale up or down your scope?  It's hard to predict what the next year will bring, but it would be a shame to shut the door to Listening because of a lack of foresight.

Dirty Laundry

Everyone has ghosts in their closet.  No vendor is going to do everything you could possibly need perfectly.  Keep a list of the various trade-offs and weaknesses.  Keep a list of features "coming soon" and ask for hard dates for delivery that can be baked into a contract.  Ask about what will be "beta" and how reliable/stable they expect this beta to be.  Feel free to bake these conversations into a contract as well.  This will help you provide the appropriate caveats down the road as you scale your engagement. 

Conversation Management/CRM

There are times when you will want to yell at the screen because you're just bursting with the urge to correct a misperception or help a wronged customer.  Eventually, listening often leads to conversational participation.  Between marketing communications, corporate communications, customer service, events marketing, promotions, community managers, Twitter and Facebook engagement, blog commenting and forum participation, keep tabs on who is handling what and where you stand with each conversation can be a pain.  Conversation Management platforms simplify this process by allowing teams to collaborate, assign posts to one another, keep a track record of interactions around a topic or with a user, and more.  While CRM and Influencer Outreach Databases can also be managed from within a Conversation Management platform or in concert with a Conversation Management platform, stand-alone solutions are also available.

Strategic Consulting

As I mentioned above, Strategic Consulting is nothing to shrug off.  Social challenges the internal and external communications dynamics and there are often far too many chefs in the kitchen to stay productive.  Many people will claim to be experts.  Few really are.  Ask them for references.  Ask them for proven success.  Challenge them.  Do not accept a book published or a massive twitter audience as a criteria for proving success.  Personal success in talking about business is not a qualification when it comes to making business happen.

What metrics will matter to me?

There are more social scores than you can shake a stick at.  Focus on your business.  What does your business need today and where do you forecast they will be tomorrow?  Challenge vendors to demonstrate how they meet your needs.  Do not accept oversimplification or over-complication. 

How much time will this take?

Once you have a bit of experience, you can generally feel out the vendor in 30-45 minutes.  However, really digging deep into their solutions will take time.  Once you have narrowed down the field to a couple of finalists, get into the tools yourself for at least 3-4 hours. Get your teams into the tools. 

Closing Thoughts

Rarely will a single solution meet your every need at a level of coverage and accuracy you desire.  Lay your trade-offs on the table and set caveats appropriately.  It's generally better to make an informed decision than a hasty one.  If you have an urgent need, look for someone with a good deal of experience in the space to advise. 

Lastly, focus on timely actionable insights.  Benchmarks are nice, but social is more than a number.  Get to know the people you are studying, get to know their conversations and lives and you will find unbelievable worlds of insight.

what's the real value of good customer service?

Your brand is your reputation.  Gatorade is performance.  Sony is style.  When your customer service is lacking, your reputation/brand will take a hit.  When you improve your customer service, your brand/reputation will see a lift.  AT&T is now offering excellent customer support on Twitter and naturally they are seeing a brand lift.  I'm sure their increasingly capable customer support via traditional channels will continue to improve their reputation as well, but the highly visible nature of social really gives this lift a boost.

I have been an AT&T wireless customer for nearly four years.  I switched over after a poor customer service experience with Verizon.  I haven't had the smoothest ride with AT&T but have stuck with them through it all.  Their customer service used to be horrible.  I dreaded having to use their customer service.  More recently however, their customer service has been stellar.  This isn't just about Twitter, it's about a meaningful conversation.

Should AT&T be offering customer service on their Facebook Wall?  Probably not.  This is their most visible real estate and probably not the best area for inviting complaints.  Is it great for both AT&T and their customers that they are offering strong customer service online?  Absolutely!

Are AT&T's brand issues resolved?  Nope.  No matter how much AT&T invests in customer service, it will not resolve people's frustrations with their network or with troubling policies

Is AT&T's customer service offsetting their network flaws?  I'm not sure, what do you think?

the little things

I generally don't use this blog to share highly personal stories, so please excuse the following post.

The last few weeks have been a roller coaster for me.  Between hitting month number eight in the baby watch, losing a childhood friend and celebrating the engagement of a good friend, it's been an emotional roller coaster.  Lots of change. 

Then I got an email that really threw me for a curve.  Someone very special passed away but I could only smile at his legacy.  This man was none other than Moshe Ben-Aharon.

Moshe Who was Moshe Ben-Aharon?

During my 2+ years studying in an American yeshiva in Israel, I made some really great friends.  Together we discovered who we really were and who we wanted to become.  We went through the terror of the Intifada and the joy of being 18 and far away from home (and our parents) together.  We became a family.  And if we were a family, Moshe Ben-Aharon was our cooky uncle.  

Moshe Ben-Aharon was an elderly Moroccan immigrant that lived not far from the yeshiva and used to hang out in the back of our study hall.  Moshe had his own seat, his own lectern and his own approach to life. 

Moshe was what we would call poor and had at least one wooden leg.  He walked with two canes and later relied on a scooter. He regularly had to resort to asking us to lend him a hand financially, often infusing humor and personality into a pretty demeaning task - begging teenagers for their change.  He didn't have much going for him in the traditional, materialistic sense.

But I have never met anyone with as much zeal for life as Moshe.  Every year he committed to learning a piece of American culture that would be his catch phrase for the year.  One year he learned about "cash flow" and enthusiastically went around asking us in broken English to help him with his cash flow, using hip hop mannerisms and the biggest smile in the world.  Another year he learned to do a Doctor Evil impression and ask for "One Million Dollars" with his pinky on his lips. 

Our mentors and Rabbis taught us how to focus and grow.  Moshe provided endless comic relief.  While he didn't have much, Moshe used to keep a bin of taffies and lolly-pops in his lectern.  Moshe distribute sweets not only to the kids that came to visit, but to us (and our Rabbis) as if we were all his kids.  When we weren't studying and just hanging around talking, hard candies would fly at us from across the room, a sweet reminder that we weren't there to fool around.  When we were studying well he would come around with taffies, limping from table to table telling us to keep it up with the most sincere little nod as if he were our parent acknowledging that he's proud of us.

Though he didn't have a penny, Moshe would do anything to make us smile.  He would dance with us, he would lend us his scooter for a comedy skit, he would even invite guys over for meals.  He had nothing, but he knew what mattered.

Everyone knew Moshe.  The bus drivers, the vendors in the shuk (market) in town, the kids in the community, everyone knew him, everyone loved him.  He didn't have enough money to buy grape juice for Shabbat (sabbath) but he had a smile for everyone.

And so, eight years after I've left the school, on one of the toughest weeks of my life, I received email after email from friends with memories of Moshe.

I don't know much about Moshe's past, but I gathered that it was very hard.  Yet as we all looked back at the little we knew of Moshe, all we could remember was happiness.

- - - - - - - - - - - - - -

If you would like to make a donation to the Moshe Ben Aharon Scholarship Fund, please use the links below.

Donate  Donate

personal use doesn't make for professional success

1134150364_6684f92626_o In a world where people feel empowered by talking, we as a society all too often forget that professionalism isn't about knowing how to turn on a tv and watch a commercial, but knowing how to leverage a medium to drive business.  The novice may see a shoot or a 30 second spot and think that visionary is the cameraman because he or she is capturing this wonderful moment for the world.  The professional knows that there are teams of practices that have made this moment possible, and most importantly, how to make moments like these happen again in the future.

In your personal life you totally get it all.  You have launched a successful blog, have thousands of followers, regularly participate in industry events and podcasts... mazal tov.  That doesn't necessarily a qualify you for mid or senior level job with a major marketer.  This is like knowing how to watch and critique a 30 second spot.  You know how to use the tools.  But you don't necessarily know the business of doing business or most importantly, the strategy and process of creating and solving real business challenges (including communications).

Business doesn't always happen the way people believe it should.  It's easy to complain and criticize.  It's easy to point out every time a business or service fails.  Fixing it however, requires experience and skill not just in using communications channels, but in actual business.

If you want your resume to stand out when you're pitching those in the know, don't focus on your blog of twitter following.  This is not your primary qualification.  Lots of people have large twitter followings and comment on emerging technologies or new media.  Stand apart by demonstrating what you have done for real businesses.  Projects that haven't just been spoken about, but seen the light of day and the thrill of success. Focus on your ability to conceptualize and most importantly, deliver.

At the end of the day, our success as an industry is not going to come from our ability to talk, but our ability to engineer conversations for the new entities that are conversational, human brands.  So please, stop quoting your personal social stats and start focusing on real businessIt's what real business people do.

stop me if you've heard this before

Brand X sucks.  #BrandFail.  #EpicFail.  I will never fly/buy/shop/drive/rent again!

Listening is key.  Technology is getting better.  We need a human touch.

Stop yelling.  It's not about Facebook.  It's all about community.

Social isn't measurable.  Social is too measurable and it causes confusion.

Location is the new social.  Social is the new television.  Newspapers are dead.

Agencies are dead.  Consultants just talk.  Clients don't get it.  Niche agencies don't get real business.  Nothing scales!

Big business doesn't get it.  Small business doesn't have the resources. 

Social is new.  Social is old. 

Social isn communications.  Social is marketing. 

Social isn't PR.  Social isn't media.

Social is hot.  Social is hyped. 

Social is over-discussed.  Social is under-appreciated.  Social is under-allocated.

Social isn't free.  Social isn't cheap.  Social isn't as expensive.

Social isn't simple.  Social isn't complicated.  Don't over-complicate it. 

Social isn't proven.  Social can't be proven.

Here's a great case study... That case study isn't relevant here... That case study is misleading...

The death of the ______, Life after ______.

Privacy!  Security!  Control!

It's all talk.  So is this post.  

Time to get back to business.

that's it, social is over, nothing to see here

3107632507_70f3bd57b3_b There has been quite a bit of chatter lately around social hitting it's apex as a shiny object.  I couldn't agree more, but this doesn't mean the death of social.  It means the rational refocus from shiny object driven exuberance to real business.

John Jantsch recently wrote, The reason social media doesn’t matter is because, upon further review, it doesn’t exist beyond a label.  He then goes on to say, ... now that we understand what actually happened it’s time to drop the term, concept, and confusion and focus on what really matters

In other words, social isn't a niche practice, it's a mean of doing business.  The term is hackneyed and we need to call it what it is, our new business reality.

Now what's interesting is that there is the suggestion that one doesn't need an agency or department to do this business.  I couldn't disagree more.  Social business is often a hard left turn for major brands.  Big brands believe their success comes from what they say and how it resonates.  Brand managers and even senior communications management are still wrapping their heads around social.  Advisers, communicators, relationship builders, media buyers, content creators and publishing strategists are all just beginning to collaborate to make big business happen.  Agencies that can facilitate and connect, advisers that can guide and assist, these are indispensable allies that brands often lean on to bring concepts to the table and to the market.

But to Mark Evans' point, What happens when everyone is into social media?  Then we get into organizational design.  Then we identify overlap, trim the waste to create efficiencies, build new business infrastructure and organize to enable greater collaboration which in turn enables innovation and creativity at new levels.  This too will take quite a while to happen and is really just beginning to hit the market.  Strategic advisers in this space will have quite a bit of work ahead of them for the next 10 years if they can demonstrate success.

So what happens beyond business as usual when brands and corporations embrace social?  Their ideas become bigger, better, smaller and more effective.  Creativity finds a new home in the new dynamic.  B2B finds an empowered workforce and client roster, tighter connections across the distribution and usage funnels and tighter collaboration internally.  B2C learns not just a new way to communicate but a new way to approach every aspect of their business.  Denise Lee Yohn (MediaWeek link) gets very close to this endgame, but falls short of realizing the true potential of social.

Social is not a replacement for your business infrastructure.

Social is not a hammer for every nail.

Social is a new dynamic.  Most companies still haven't fully resolved the what social means to their business, and we as an industry still haven't found the real answer.  There are untapped worlds of creativity and opportunity.

If you think social is a lot of hot air with little real value then you're right, long term prospects aren't as shiny and bright.  If you are a social marketer or communicator and are really good at what you do (enabling social marketing or communications), you will continue to grow your business in the years ahead, as most brands still haven't cracked even the basics.  But If you think social is a new means of communicating and facilitating business of doing business, your day has just begun.

Rational early adopters unite!

Picture1 At what point does yearly incremental innovation in the mobile device market cease to be enough to drive yet another customer purchase?

And what will happen to the market once we the users stop getting excited about incremental innovation?

I'm a lifelong early adopter.  I was the first person I knew to own a CD burner.  I owned one of the first TV tuner cards.  I owned the original flash card and CD based mp3 players.  I even owned a second and third generation mp3 CD players, rejoicing when they introduced text capable screens.  I owned the original Archos Jukebox hard-drive mp3 player.  I owned a Virtual Boy.

I love my iPhone 3GS.  It does everything I want it to do.  While I enjoy the games, 12 months later I'm primarily hooked in the utilities and entertainment options.  News, sports, photos, video, audio, email... this phone does it all.  My phone has grown from a shiny object full of fun games into something I rely upon to enhance my day to day life.

Having joined the Cult of Jobs, I've salivated over every leak around the iPhone 4.  I bought into the hype.  When it was first announced I started rethinking my spending priorities, wondering how I could possibly talk myself into buying the crack without getting hooked into a contract.

Then I woke up.

$500 is a lot to spend on a phone/entertainment device that is only slightly better than my existing device.  Sure it does a lot more than just talk, but does it do enough new things better than my existing solution (the 3GS) to deserve this significant an investment?  Not really.

I want an iPhone 4.  I don't need an iPhone 4.  And I certainly don't have $500 burning a hole in my pocket.  This thing will be outdated in a year, setting the early adopter tax at about $40 a month for a unit with minimal improvements.

And I'm sure I'm not the only person going through this.

The growing rationality of early adopters will be a challenge for Apple in the years ahead.  The first few models of each new device offer drastic improvements.  The later generations however, offer incremental improvements.  At a certain point I won't need the latest and greatest, much as I don't need an Apple personal computer.  I don't even need an HP or a Dell.  The PC market has become commoditized enough that there are many brands selling more than capable, well designed devices for a fraction of the cost.

While the mobile landscape is evolving and growing, the pace of hardware innovation is slowing.  We're nearing a plateau of hardware innovation.  If brands want to continue to drive incredible hype, excitement and purchase, they are going to need to think beyond the hardware.  Because at this point, the new just isn't that special.

10 s-commerce best practices

4404405566_18d8cebd11_o Social Commerce is going to be big.  We all know it.  It's going to be a cash cow for those that do it well.  And Disney is only the beginning.  Below please find my 10 social-commerce best practices.
  1. Give the e-commerce a reason to exist in the social channel.  Give the user a reasons to share/broadcast.  Make it something you want to engage friends around.  
  2. Embrace group-oriented behavior.  Group coupons, game dynamics, group buying or event/travel coordination, registries and gifting, etc.
  3. Communicate trust and security.  Tell the user exactly what will be shared, what the security measures are etc.  Many consumers are still unfamiliar with s-commerce and may not comfortable with it one day one.
  4. Aim for simple and/or remarkable purchases.  Few people are going to want to shell out a fortune on a  whim, and few planned purchases for large ticket items will take place in social without a reason to do so. Great sales, promotions and low ticket items are low hanging fruit.
  5. Integrate with partners.  If you are a CPG brand, your retailers have Facebook presences.  If you are a retailer, your products each have their own pages.  The same is true across almost all B2C businesses.  Leverage your relationship across platforms as seamlessly as strategically viable.
  6. Leverage your loyalty programs but don't give the milk away for free.  Most loyalty program promotions, especially those that are sales related, primarily target your loyalists or at least those with a strong affinity.  Think about how you can make loyalty program promotions a drive to purchase and socialize without cheapening the value of membership.
  7. S-Commerce is part of your communications toolkit, but it does not define your social goals or strategy.  Don't let your s-commerce objectives define your voice or your brand value proposition (unless you are a sales engine).  Leverage your s-commerce as part of your brand story and social communications.
  8. Don't be afraid to use your website.  If this is a complex purchase or there are real security concerns, don't be afraid to invite social users to click away to your website, and then click to a "Like" or "Share" type button after the purchase.  This isn't ideal, but it's an option.
  9. Setup an infrastructure for lessons learned.  You will experience bugs, you will identify flaws and holes.  Measure, explore, learn and share.
  10. ______________________________
OK, so I lied.  I don't have 10 best practices.  But if you could please do kind as to share your tips, all of us can learn.