This last year was a big year. We brought on new customers, new employees, new product expertise, and hosted new events around the globe. So whats next?
Our Lithium Network Conference (known as LiNC) is renowned in the industry for its focus on our customers and networking with the "best in CX". This event brought hundreds of customers across the globe together for knowledge sharing, networking, training, awards, certifications, and most of all, to share their journey in the world of digital customer experience.
I am delighted to announce that we will build on that foundation further in 2018, by hosting the first global ‘Lithium CX Live’ in Austin, Texas, on October 3rd & 4th, 2018.
Lithium CX Live will be a product and customer experience focused event.
When you arrive in ATX, you'll
Hear Lithium’s vision for the future of service, customer care and digital marketing,
Learn our product roadmap for the next generation of digital customer experience,
Experience upcoming product demos, hands-on best practice labs and in-depth training,
Meet and network with experts and peers that will help you get more out of your digital and social strategy,
And of course, attend the annual Lithy Customer Awards Ball.
Registration will open soon, but in the meantime, mark your calendars for October. And I’ll see you at CX Live in Austin!
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The world of social has changed dramatically over the past few years. What started as a simple means for brands to communicate in a one-way, “broadcast” fashion to consumers has evolved into a multidimensional web of platforms and immersive media channels that make it easier than ever to engage with consumers in almost every way imaginable.
One part of this new social media dynamic is customer service. Initially, brands were a bit reluctant to shift customer-care efforts from traditional to digital. This mentality made sense for a while because the benefits of making this shift hadn’t really been pressure-tested to the full extent yet, not to mention, customer service had traditionally been entrenched in call-center operations.
But, guess what? The customer changed that entire dynamic for us. They decided where they wanted to be served by brands and required marketing and customer-care teams to follow suit, quickly.
The brands that decided to dive head-first into the world of social customer care were true pioneers. They set the stage for what has now become a rather commonplace practice today. And this is truly a great thing because it’s pushed the boundaries of what social media is, as well as what it can become in both the near- and long-term.
As we look toward the future, though, there’s one major problem with this scenario (and it’s a serious thorn in my side): Social media marketing still seems far too disconnected from social customer service. Even though we know just how important it is for these stakeholders to be aligned, industry analysts have reluctantly admitted that bringing these two together is just too complicated for most organizations.
For those that are able to accomplish this feat, however, the end result can be game-changing. Unfortunately, there are a few common roadblocks that all too often stand in the way of allowing this alignment to happen.
Three ways to overcome the social marketing vs. social service divide
First—and this is truly the biggest offender—marketing and care teams simply aren’t talking to each other. This still baffles me, even though I fully understand why it happens: It’s a matter of different teams with different goals. They simply don’t see eye-to-eye.
Unfortunately, this is extremely inefficient, especially knowing that both teams are at the center of the customer experience. Creating a great digital customer experience is not just about marketing or just about customer service—it’s dependent on both and a lot more. Why not work hand-in-hand to plan and execute customer-facing campaigns? (This really isn’t a question. You should do this.)
Second, how brands manage customer relationships needs to be re-examined. If you’re using your customer-relationship-management system—and thinking that it’s the end-all, be-all of your customer-centric marketing and service strategy—it’s about time you gave this a second thought.
Don’t get me wrong: CRM systems are crucial. They play an important part in the customer lifecycle. But you’ve got to remember that a CRM program is basically just a customer database. This sits at the edge of a customer-centric model and is truly far too tactical in nature to meet the heightened expectations of today’s ever so demanding customers.
You’ve got to do a lot more than simply communicate regularly to your database to maintain positive customer relationships. This is a perfect example of marketing operating in its own silo. CRM can’t provide a great digital customer experience on its own. The minute a customer clicks through to a landing page is when the magic really happens. (Here’s a hint: Customer care plays a big part in this, too.)
Third—and perhaps a byproduct of the above more than anything else—the way in which brands implement technologies and platforms to create a more streamlined, efficient and effective digital customer experience is also incredibly siloed, as well.
At Lithium Technologies, brands would initially reach out to us to learn more about either our Social Media Marketing or Social Customer Service products.
But lately, those conversations have changed. They no longer ask about one or the other—they now want to know more about how to effectively manage the end-to-end digital customer experience via streamlined technologies and platforms.
We know that this is the true catalyst for efficiency and overall effectiveness (https://www.lithium.com/pages/social-media-has-grown-up) as brands seek to evolve and mature their social media efforts. Even so, it’s become our role to constantly change the conversation, reminding brands that “social,” as a whole, needs to be approached, implemented and executed as a single, unified program.
So, where does this leave us today, especially as many of us have already started to think about the year ahead? If the point hasn’t come across crystal-clear, let me reiterate: Make 2018 the year in which you create a stronger connection between marketing customer service.
We need to get out of the “one or the other” mindset. Creating memorable digital customer experiences doesn’t happen when teams and organizations operate independently.
Remember, your customers don’t know who they’re talking to when they reach out to ask questions, get more information or voice concerns. They just want to have a positive experience with your brand (consistently) and get whatever information they need, quickly.
Breaking down those silos will not only make you more efficient—which is always a good thing—and help you immediately achieve measurable results, but it will most certainly get you closer to your customers. And that, my friends, is what drives business value.
This article was originally featured in AdWeek on January 30th.
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Investing in the right technology – to meet customer demands and deliver the best digital customer experiences – is the priority facing all CMOs today. -Dayle Hall ( @DayleH)
I’ve said this one thousand times during customer and prospect meetings: every single person within a business is responsible for delivering a consistent and cohesive customer experience across all touch points. Digital is where brands have the biggest opportunity today to create something unique.
In fact, brands and marketers have started to turn a keen eye towards marketing technology. Why? Because the digital customer experience is much bigger than marketing or technology alone. Delivering a brilliant digital customer experience requires both marketing and technology working together seamlessly.
I’ve been hearing for years that marketers would soon become the biggest spenders on technology. My initial reaction to that had always been, “yeah, right.” However, have we now reached the tipping point? Perhaps. Back in 2012, Gartner predicted that CMOs would outspend their CIO counterparts on technology by 2017. Fast-forward to the present day: Gartner’s latest CMO spend survey is quickly proving this prediction is coming into fruition.
So, why have CMOs become the newfound stewards of technology in so many companies today? First, more often than not, the marketing organisation is tapped to lead, fund, and execute on digital customer experience initiatives. As we all know, the way to do that these days is through digital; and to do digital, you need technology. So, it’s no surprise that nearly 90 percent of companies have said they plan to compete primarily on the basis of digital customer experience alone – at a time when over half of consumers place more value on a positive brand experience than on the product or service purchased! I wouldn’t be surprised if that number rises closer to 100 percent in the next year. After all, digital customer experience is a marketer’s playing field and, as such, marketers have no choice but to harness the power of technology to win both the attention and, more importantly, the loyalty of today’s digital-first consumers.
We also need to keep in mind that marketing has fundamentally changed since Gartner first published its spend prediction in 2012. The debate between traditional vs. digital marketing is over. The outcome of that debate was an embrace of multi-channel marketing, even if there was an initial reluctance to it. In spite of digital’s rapid ascent to dominate advertising budgets, non-digital marketing tactics still played an important part in creating a cohesive brand story and experience – and, therefore, still provided tremendous value to marketers in driving the end-to-end customer experience.
The difference today is that we must look at marketing through the lens of digital. Simply stated, digital media is the de facto canvas for marketing today; how that canvas can be molded to create unique digital customer experiences is both an opportunity and a challenge for brands. This is further compounded by the fact that we know customers spend a lot of time transacting in various ways on digital media. Based on recent Lithium research, about one-third of consumers will visit a brand’s website, blog, or social channels first to engage with the brand, ask questions, learn more, or research specific products and services. This basically means that a brand’s digital presence is a lot more important now than ever before – and it goes way beyond your own .com site. The initial experience consumers have with that digital presence can be a “make or break” moment.
Consumers are somewhat impatient (perhaps an understatement?) – even more so when transacting via their mobile devices. They want answers, and they want them, fast. Think of it like this: your digital channels have to do the heavy lifting for you. If they don’t address what a consumer is looking for – or, at the very least, give them a direct way to contact you to get more information – you might as well just hold their hand all the way to your nearest competitor. But it goes beyond that. Consumers also want the option to engage with brands directly and on the channel of their preference. This is an example of approaching marketing through the lens of digital. You have to put yourself in a consumer’s shoes. What do they want from you? What will likely be their most frequently asked questions? What unique value does your brand offer to them? The list goes on. Think about what they want, need, and expect from you and then deliver an outstanding experience that delivers on those expectations.
Since we all are now thinking in a digital-first mode, technology becomes almost by default the heart of marketing. The primary goal of marketing technology is to automate (to a certain extent) and streamline the go-to-market process. From media buying to publishing to audience analytics, the wide array of technologies within the marketing ecosystem exist to help brands get closer to consumers, create and publish relevant content effortlessly, measure performance in real-time, and drive internal efficiency at every step along the online and offline consumer journey. Technology is, therefore, a big part of running a well-oiled marketing machines. CMOs know that implementing these technologies in their organizations makes their their teams smarter, savvier, and stronger. For them, driving marketing efficiency is just as important as creating stellar digital customer experiences. (Hint: you can’t drive a great experience without being buttoned up internally!)
The truth is, anything less than stellar is subpar. The numbers speak for themselves. About 41 percent of consumers say they would buy what they consider to be an inferior product from a brand they love (instead of a better product from a brand with which they’ve potentially had a bad experience). Not to mention, people who’ve had a positive experience with a brand tend to spend 140 percent more on products and services whereas 83 percent would stop using a brand after having only one negative experience. The key takeaway: if you thought digital customer experiences didn’t have a significant impact on your business’s bottom line, think again.
So, coming full circle, are we really surprised that CMOs are almost outpacing CIOs in their technology investment? No, we shouldn’t be. As consumers embody more digital-first tendencies, as marketers it’s our responsibility to put our customers at the center of every business decision we make. Doing so means we need to start embracing those digital-first tendencies, too – which, of course, requires technology. Fortunately, the benefits far outweigh any learning curves you might face along the way. Not only does marketing technology make our teams more efficient and effective, but it also helps close the gap between brands and consumers. CMOs understand that investing in the right digital technologies now will help ensure that every interaction consumers have with your brand on digital in the future is a good one. Not only do consumers expect it, but it’s always the only way to differentiate your brand in a big way in the future.
This article was originally featured in Engage CX Marketing.
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How the financial services industry can compete in an increasingly digital-first age
If you had asked me 10 – even five – years ago if I could imagine the day would come when I could quite easily open up a bank account online, I probably would have just laughed it off. After all, the experience of walking into a branch to meet with an account representative who would have me complete and sign endless amounts of paperwork to make me an official banking customer seemed par for the course – and never changing anytime soon. Not to mention, all of the privacy concerns, security restrictions, and other regulatory red-tape that would make online financial transactions seemingly impossible.
To be honest, I couldn’t tell you the last time I visited an actual bank branch. I do most of my banking online these days. So, if there’s one thing we’ve all learned in the last few years, it’s that technology has a very real power to transform and shape culture, business, and behavior. It is now practically a part of every interaction that takes place in our daily lives. To think that the banking and financial services industries would forever be immune to technology’s widening grip may have just been denial, in hopes that the predominantly analog status quo of the industry would prevail. Although regulatory and legal requirements haven’t changed – if anything, they are now stricter than ever before – we’re quickly seeing technology become a catalyst for change, helping to liberate an industry so encumbered by those constraints. Technology is, therefore, helping the financial services industry take its first steps into what will likely be a digital-first future.
The fact of the matter is that financial technology (aka, “fin-tech”) is here to move the industry forward, not give it reason to panic. Traditional financial services businesses need to get out of the all-too-common old way of doing things, if they even want to have a glimmer of hope of competing with the new digital-first entrants into the space.
While most brands have started to dip their toe into the “digital pool,” this rapid evolution into a more digital-first mindset goes well beyond day-to-day banking, with players like Monzo and Tesco Bank already disrupting the industry in a big way. Technology has impacted – and you could even say, simplified or made more accessible – the way people invest (Moneybox), manage their entire financial portfolio ( Nutmeg ) and even file and pay for taxes ( TurboTax ).
Simple tasks that once required the intervention of a seasoned professional are increasingly being automated through smart and convenient technology. This isn’t to suggest that technology has completely taken over. There are still moments when human interaction is necessary to complete a task. The benefit of all this technology, however, is that it helps identify the exact moment when humans need to take over, helping to improve the overall efficiency and effectiveness of customer support teams. Not to mention, it helps build confidence and trust (more on that in a moment).
So, while there are seasoned professionals somewhere in the background being support in a big way by all this technology, you could easily say that the relationship customers have today with the entire financial services industry has been fundamentally flipped on its head – all thanks to technology. No question about it, fin-tech is thriving. Do you want to be left behind?
Now, before any of us get carried away, it’s important to keep in mind that, in a recent survey commissioned by Lithium , only 23 percent of adults in the UK said that they trust digital more than other forms of banking even though 59 percent said they would prefer to bank through digital channels if the trust element were there. Conversely, 58 percent found in-person banking to be the most trustworthy. This reveals that consumers today are facing a dilemma between convenience and trust as technology becomes more a part of the financial services industry.
Here lies an opportunity. When consumers are faced with complex banking issues , 60 percent of adults in the UK said that would have to sort it out in-person while a meager 15 percent would look to digital first to get the answers they need. Although this may be the case now, it’s highly likely that the balance could soon tip in the opposite direction. New entrants into the financial services industry are getting a lot savvier about how they leverage and amplify their digital presence – dotcom, online community, social channels and in-app – which all comes down to building a better overall digital customer experience. Doing so builds trust. Trust builds loyalty. The only difference today is that technology is quickly becoming a driver of trust.
This trend is already well underway. The simple fact that fin-tech brands are already gaining so much attention and traction with consumers, especially among digital-first millennials, is a sign that high-street banks and other more traditional financial services providers are the most at risk to lose business to these new, more agile entrants into the market.
Fortunately, there is still time to get on board with digital. Keep in mind, though, it’s about more than simply making an investment in it; it’s about making a conscious decision to redefine the end-to-end customer experience, wherein digital sits at the heart of it all. Doing this will not only continue to build on the trust that consumers have with your brand, but also help them see you in a new light – one where speed, efficiency and convenience around addressing their needs and resolving their issues is consistently your top priority.
Although there is no one-size-fits-all recipe for success, there are a few things you can do proactively to implement a winning digital strategy:
Embrace Technology: You need the right systems, processes and platforms in place to automate, streamline and unify the customer experience across all digital channels.
Know Your Customers: The more you know about your customers’ needs, the better and more personalised service you can provide them. Data can help you develop actionable customer insights that make it easier to meet and exceed customer expectations.
Empower Agents: Agents must have a comprehensive view of the customer to address their needs efficiently. Creating holistic customer profiles using your customer data will equip agents with information to help them be more effective with every interaction.
Share Information: The digital customer experience is everyone’s responsibility, not just the marketing or customer support team’s. Create as much transparency as possible around your digital efforts to ensure the entire organisation knows what’s happening.
Streamline Content Delivery: Coupling customer data with automated content publishing and recommendation tools takes the guesswork out of identifying what kinds of content your customers want and expect from your brand.
Build Community: An online community allows your customers to interact and collaborate with each other as well as ask questions and get answers, which can alleviate the costs and pressures placed on customer care teams.
Measure Performance: From social media analytics to marketing campaign metrics to customer data, you must measure every customer interaction across every digital channel to ensure you deliver a premium digital customer experience at all times.
The emergence of fin-tech is a good thing – and, truthfully, shouldn’t be seen as a threat to your business. That is, only if you use it to your advantage. Fin-tech is pushing the boundaries of what’s possible in the financial services industry and, if you heed its call, it can help you build a solid business case for launching your brand into the digital age or expanding your current digital presence, making way for a better and more cohesive digital customer experience. The number of digitally-minded consumers is growing every day. They value convenience, speed and efficiency. By embracing fin-tech, and deploying it with your customers’ wants, needs, and expectations squarely in mind, you can give your already-loyal customers a reason to stay loyal despite growing competition.
This article was originally posted on International Banker.
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This statement should come as no surprise: Social can elevate or destroy your brand.
It’s been proven time after time that social amplifies any decision your company makes (negative or positive), which ultimately impacts your bottom line and your customers.
So, how are you investing and engaging on social?
We commissioned a strategic study to measure how well brands are engaging with customers across their digital channels. The result is an in-depth analysis of 70 global consumer brands across 8 industries, tracking more than 300 social channels. Now in its second year, the study compares 2016 to 2017 data to determine whether brands are making headway on social.
The study found that while most brands are improving on basic social tactics, they still have not figured out the right strategic approach to provide a great experience on all the right digital channels.
Our 2017 study found:
98% of brands are still stuck in broadcast mode, focusing largely on push tactics like paid social rather than taking the time to truly engage (i.e. organic social).
Only 1% of brands build relationships with influencers, a brand’s biggest advocates – especially during a crisis.
But, no need to panic, we have good news too.
Our report includes tips and best practices on what you can do to improve your brand’s state of social engagement.
Download it here to:
Learn from this in-depth analysis of 70 global consumer brands across eight industries,
Read mini case studies on what the top brands are doing right,
Understand 6 key industry-specific findings and trends,
And get 7 Real-World Tips for Better Social Engagement.
There’s no time to waste – your customers are counting on you! Download The State of Social Engagement 2017 today and see better results in your social engagement.
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I have important news for our Lithium Community! I am happy to announce that @AndyK, a long time contributor to our community, has shifted into the Community Manager role at Lithium. He was one of the architects of our latest redesign and has lots of ideas to evolve and grow our online community. In conjunction with @PhilippeM our Director of Global Support & Operations, we’re rethinking how we can continue to improve your experience through engagement, cross-company communication and bringing our own Lithium community members together. We already know that our focus will expand to include more support, customer success, and best practices with other members of the company chiming in.
Andy and Philippe will work closely with the marketing team on this next phase of the community. @JaniceK will continue to manage our Lithium Stars program.
Please join me in congratulating and welcoming @AndyK to this new role!
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I say this year after year, LiNC is: Greater than the sum of its parts.
And this year, as promised, we’d like to introduce you to our newly rolled-out events happening across the globe.
We would like to present you the first ever, LiNC Local Events. You can register today from these links:
LiNC Local London – 20 June 2017
LiNC Local Sydney- 20 July 2017
LiNC Locals aim to embody the power of Digital Customer Experience, while reminding you of the value we get from having you as an advocate of Lithium.
In turn, we’d like to provide you with just as much, if not more, value. These events will offer:
Invaluable networking opportunities with peers from around the globe
State-of-the-art training sessions and certifications delivered by Lithium Product Experts
Keynotes from industry thought leaders, highlighting the revolution of Digital CX
Case studies from local best-in-class brands
Hands-on breakout sessions and roundtable discussions ranging from high level strategic planning to tactical topics including day-to-day management
Lithy Regional Spotlight Awards: an opportunity to showcase and award the best of the best in Digital CX Excellence.
We hope you join our events this year, to revisit why we do what we do at Lithium to better drive innovation and excellence for your organizations.
And we are working on something special for SF. Save-the-date for the 2017 Lithy Awards Ball on June 14 th in SF. A night of glamour and celebration of the Digital CX elite—join us to find out who takes home the highly coveted Lithy trophy!
For questions, please email email@example.com
See you there,
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Morning all. Great discussion on meetups and thanks for the questions. We will have meetups through the year as add-ons to other events or specifically in the Lithium offices. We will advertise those in the monthly customer newsletter.
That being said, a quick way to get these going in your own area would be to talk to your CSM and see if they can help facilitate a connection with other customers in your area. If you dont have a CSM currently assigned, you can reach out to @KellySull and we will start tracking the requests and see if we can get a groundswell of support.
If you do get something going, I would also be happy to make sure we promote on the community in the customer area to drum up more interest.
Hope that helps. Cheers, Dayle.
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We’re so excited to launch and welcome you to our community’s new-look.
The Lithium community is (and will always be) the place to connect with your peers and Lithium experts about the industry, online communities, social media management and – most importantly- the digital customer experience.
Plus, this is THE place to get best practices, tips and answers to your most pressing questions.
With that in mind, we’re excited to launch our new-look responsive community to help you connect with other customers and find the right content at the right time. We hope you find the updated community more navigable and easy to use across all your devices. All in all, we hope to provide you with a great experience, but please note, this is just the beginning, and we will be making more changes and improvements in the coming weeks and months.
Some of the main changes worth noting:
Look & Feel: the community will look ‘fresh and familiar,’ with the added bonus that you can now access our community anytime, anywhere
Navigation: We will have top-level navigation to make searching for content much easier
New Blogs: We will have two new blogs called “Online Communities” and “Lithium Social Media Management” to make it easier to find product-specific content
New “About” Category: In this new category, you’ll be able to find things like our Community Guidelines, Jobs board, and information about the Stars
Product Ideas: This will move from Knowledge & Support to Discussions
Events Category: This will go away for now, but watch for its potential return in the future
At Lithium, we are extremely appreciative of the consistent engagement and input from customers, new and old, in our community. Thus, we invite you to poke around and check out the new-look.
Please do let us know what you think in the comments. I f you have direct feedback, please feel free to email our Community Team at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
And thanks to the entire team that made this happen.
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As a digital marketer, I’m constantly thinking about how brands are providing their customers with the best possible experience on digital channels, whether that be on social media, through chat tools, on popular e-commerce websites, or their own branded website. To that end, a few of the trends I’m seeing that will inform my 2017 strategy are as follows:
Social media data is no longer the secondary dataset
Social media had been growing in prominence for years. You’ve heard that before, right? After the Arab Spring, social media was recognized as a powerful means to reach and connect with one another. In fact, on a recent webcast I did with VaynerMedia and Marketing Land, Matt Sitomer described social media as just "the media." Want more proof? Take the recent U.S. presidential election. The campaign was waged as much on social media as anywhere else. And like political strategists, brands can no longer treat social media as an afterthought or an extension of their traditional marketing campaigns. Many are questioning their data sources as the election polls proved typical datasets may be disastrously inaccurate. There’s no denying that social can be a powerful means for brands to monitor consumer sentiment and perceptions in real time and gather feedback on products, services, and campaigns. But they need to engage in a meaningful way, and not just broadcast. To that end, we expect to see social media management tools and analytics become much more integrated throughout marketing departments in 2017, benefiting not just the organization but the customer as well. While there is a fine line between creepy and targeted, research continues to show that consumers expect brands to recognize them as the same individual irrespective of channel. And, with consumers seeing social media as a go-to channel for everything, I expect brands to realize that customer support over social and the seamless integration of social data throughout the business will be essential in 2017.
2016’s most hyped: AI
A few big companies said it, and I see it on brands’ sites that have nothing to do with AI but are seemingly trying to catch a wave of relevancy and SEO. In 2017, we anticipate more brands will investigate and integrate with automation. But despite the buzz about one of 2016’s most hyped topics, the code of how to use this and when to deploy a bot vs. human, for example, will not get cracked. And that’s a good thing, for now. Many customers will still be left dissatisfied with these automated experiences. This will be similar to when customer service call centers moved almost entirely to automated systems and the brands that ended up benefiting were those that offered a human on the other end of the line. While there are some cost and resource efficiencies to deploying automation like bots, the key will be balancing this with the human touch.
Social steps up for the business: The ‘Amazonification’ of social commerce
Another trend we expect to have larger significance in 2017 is what we like to call the "Amazonification" of social commerce. As brands recognize the power behind social media, a greater emphasis will be placed on successfully integrating social and commerce. This means we’ll see more customer reviews and product information sitting directly alongside the shopping cart and social and commerce becoming completely integrated. People will use their own social network as a proxy to purchase decisions, and the brands better get on that or risk losing a whole generation of customers.
This article originally appeared in PR Week.
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Social is the place to be to connect with customers, share your brand’s story, and deliver exceptional customer service. We know that to sell a social strategy in your organization, it helps to be able to show how others are using it to drive success.
In this year’s edition of our Customer Success stories, we’re featuring 13 amazing brands who are driving exceptional results in social marketing, community, and social customer service. They’re taking social to the next level, streamlining marketing and customer service, and truly delivering on real business results.
In this social media success eBook, you’ll learn:
How StubHub drove a 300% improvement in response time
How Covered California experienced a 250% increase in positive sentiment conversion
How StarHub generated S$2.8M in sales revenue through community
How Alteryx improved social marketing efficiency and a faster speed to market
And many more stats and strategies that prove social ROI for brands just like yours.
I invite you to download the eBook and see for yourself what is possible when you put social strategy front and center in your organization.
Get the eBook now
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Planning for SXSW 2017 is well underway! SXSW is known for bringing the best and brightest industry leaders from around the world to discuss a variety of topics, ranging from brand marketing to tech to social impact. This year’s lineup includes NBA legend “Magic” Johnson, New York Times author Dan Lyons and internationally renowned TV producer Adam Savage. On the Lithium end, we’re excited to have three sessions up for consideration in this year’s PanelPicker by our very own @MikeW and @KatyK.
Let Your Big Data Drive Your Next Big Win: Data science is a business discipline that’s challenging to understand. At the same time, the importance of big data to business is undeniable. How can you make the most of big data and leverage data science? Hear from Lithium’s chief data scientist, @MikeW.
Science & Social: The Internet's New Power Couple: Social is an increasingly powerful tool, but there’s also a science behind it. What’s the relationship between the two, and how can you benefit from this power couple? Learn from @MikeW on how brands can use science to reach and acquire customers effectively.
Throw a Badass Customer Conference: Customer conferences are the perfect opportunity to launch products, build relationships and attract new customers. How do you bring that conference experience year-round? What tactics and elements make a successful conference? @KatyK explores how to bring relationships beyond an event.
Interested in these sessions? Help us get to SXSW by casting your vote! If you have sessions in the PanelPicker, let us know so we can return the favor.
Here’s how to vote:
Visit the 2017 PanelPicker at http://panelpicker.sxsw.com/
Create an account
Review our sessions and vote by hitting the ‘thumbs up’ icon:
Remember to comment and Tweet your support!
PanelPicker voting will close on Friday, September 2 .
Will you be at SXSW? Do you have sessions submitted in the PanelPicker? Let us know in the comments below.
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@geoffreyamoore kicked off day 2 of #LiNC16 quoting Aristotle: “Man is by nature a social animal.”
Indeed, we are. Not only has the advent of social media changed the way we interact with the world around us – via a very real sense of collaboration at scale – but it also has disrupted the ethos surrounding how we innovate, essentially transforming what was once either scarce or expensive and making it readily available and cheap. As Moore so aptly put it, “Digital is changing our design rules.”
But getting back to Aristotle. When we think of man as a truly social being, we need to think a bit more about what that actually means. Moore explained that “our very identity is socially constructed,” from language to culture to beliefs to values. In essence, “it’s how we create meaning for ourselves and the world around us,” Moore continued, “our core is social.” So taking this into consideration, you would think that the rabid proliferation of social-driven experiences would amplify our social essence. Though, Moore warns that even though the “digital world extends the reach of our relationships, it also has a way of trivializing their impact.” In other words, social media has turned human actions into simple transactions. The infamous “like” is now just a commodity.
Moore doesn’t believe it has to be this way. While it may be easy to simply accept social as the great “commoditizer” (so to speak) of human life, as marketers we have a responsibility to not let that happen. In fact, we need to strive for the opposite. Moore encouraged, “We need to go deeper with social: real meaning, real conversation, real relationships.” Reading between the lines, that basically means we need to use social media for what it was designed to do: to be social. Though, in doing so, we need to be mindful of one very important thing: “Although social is an inherently human activity that can be approximated by algorithms, it cannot be replaced by algorithms.”
So what do people need from social? Community? Help on demand? Great content? Opportunity to help others? Creating shared purpose? All of the above (and more!). The opportunity associated with social is truly remarkable, only if we leverage it to its full potential. But even this is a double-edged sword because, at the end of the day, we need to make it fit within the wholly transactional world in which we live. So Moore suggested that we frame our approach to social in terms of two levers: Performance and Power.
“Performance” is all about how we use social to build community (“acquire”) and then “monetize” the community in some way. However, Moore warned that social experiences appearing to be too transactional in nature can cause wear out in the community, quickly making people lose interest in what your brand has to say or offer. That’s where the “Power” levers come into play. Once you build community, it’s important to “engage” them in your message or value proposition and then eventually – and yes, this part can take some time – “enlist” to be an advocate or even give back to the community. It’s really about striking a fine balance – which is something that doesn’t necessarily just happen overnight. And that’s just scratching the surface.
Check out #LiNC16 via Twitter and Instagram to see what else Geoffrey Moore had to say – and to see what else happened during last week’s conference.
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@nate_elliott kicked off his breakout session at #LiNC16 last week with a pretty bold statement: “The rise of social has fundamentally changed advertising as we know it.” The only problem is, he continued, “Brands aren’t sure if their social marketing efforts are effective.”
And therein lies what Elliott calls the “Social Marketing Paradox.” Brands know they need to be actively a part of the social ecosystem – because that’s where more and more people are flocking every day – but they just aren’t sure if all of their hard word and effort is actually paying off. Especially given that engagement can be as low as 0.01%! Though, Elliott underscored that “engagement is the primary goal.” Brands want to build a new kind of relationship with their customers, and they are looking to social as the place where that can happen (even amidst dropping engagement rates across all of the big social networks).
To overcome this hurdle, Elliott explained that brands need to put the right social marketing tools in place to help streamline and optimize their social efforts as much as possible. Long gone are the “post and pray” days when brands could simply throw something up into their social channels in hopes that organic traffic would follow. Today, people’s attention spans are being pulled in every direction. So marketers need to become much savvier at understanding what their customers want and when they are likely going to be most receptive to brand messages. This is where powerful social marketing tools come into play.
So what should marketers look for in these tools? Here’s Elliott’s advice:
They must offer functionality not available on social networks (scheduling posts in advance or cross-posting across various networks)
They must save time and effort (organic targeting, post tagging, accessibility via mobile apps)
They must mitigate security and risk (the ability to manage permissions and create review-and-approval on posts before being published)
They must help brands perform better (optimizing for trending audience topics, time of day analysis)
To wrap things up, Elliott explained that brands aren’t leveraging their communities to their full potential. They need to get in the mindset of not only publishing great content that engages their customers, but also, and more importantly, responding to their wants, needs, and expectations in real-time. Doing so, as Elliott put it, will move us away from counting “likes” and “share” as our primary engagement metrics and, instead, get us to focus on measuring “clicks” and “conversions” – more clear indicators of just how successful our social marketing efforts truly are.
Weren’t able to make the conference last week? Follow our updates on Twitter and Instagram via #LiNC16 to see what you missed.
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Hi @lilim , there were two other videos I can think of. One was the Reach launch video, showing around the product and what it does. The second was the 'responsive' video. All those videos will be made available shortly. We have to change soundtracks before we post. I will keep you informed!
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We live in a service economy. In a period of enormous change, all brands must be thinking about how to more deeply engage customers in this new world. At LiNC 2016, Microsoft introduced its vision of “Systems of Intelligence” and outlined how communities are integral to this new era of engagement. Yet, they must also be deeply connected with a company’s core CRM system to deliver a better experience for the customer. Jujhar Singh, General Manager, CRM, Microsoft; Anu Agarwal (@anuaga), Principal Business Architect, CRM, Microsoft, and Jeff Spitulnik (@JeffSp), Vice President of Product at Lithium showcased how Lithium Communities are now integrated into Microsoft Dynamics CRM in a powerful new way.
In the partnership, Lithium powers the community element of Microsoft Dynamics CRM, which enables peer-to-peer interaction and is fully integrated into the service aspects of the CRM system. Customers with a Lithium community can integrate their community into Microsoft Dynamics CRM. This enables both the community member and the agent to view community and service cases, to communicate, track progress, escalate issues, leverage UGC, and measure NPS for each interaction. Microsoft Dynamics CRM is built on intelligent engagement which draws on the organization’s data-driven architecture and empowers project management, training, automated service ticket and agent scheduling, as well as community support and interaction.
Mr. Singh pointed out that we have moved from a transactional economy to a service economy where everything is outcome based. Because of this, customer lifetime value is a premium, and creating a great customer experience an imperative. Microsoft is focused on empowering brands to achieve this is through their Unified Customer Intelligence Service, which provides multidimensional views of the customer, and Lithium is proud to be a partner in helping brands drive powerful, data-driven customer engagement and customer service experiences.
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Do you know what information about your customers would help you deliver better experiences for them? Have any idea who owns that data in your organization? Even more importantly, do you know what to do with that information once you get your hands on it? Altimeter’s industry analyst, Susan Etlinger, presented at LiNC 2016. She spoke candidly about how companies need to approach big data across their enterprise, break down silos, and extract meaningful insights. Here’s highlights of what Susan had to say:
What does big data mean today?
The concept of Big Data has been around for 20 years now. Originally, any data issues that came up were those of your own making. You built a database and collected a ton of data and then suddenly, you had volumes of data to deal with. Ecommerce started to flow data in from outside. So, big data was defined by high volume, velocity, and variety. It was variety, though, that made Big Data a novelty. What makes it relevant now is that Big Data has become a normal part of everything. Data is the lifeblood of everything we do. The big question for organizations now is how do you make Big Data valuable to the business, and to your customers?
Big data is used in three key ways
Typically, organizations use data in three ways:
Operations - improvements, cost reduction, risk mitigation in the business
Customer experience - better understanding and marketing to customers and serving them at every touchpoint
Innovation - opportunities to innovate, whether related to existing products and services or new ones based on the data itself
Companies need to make data an asset of the business and think about it strategically. The challenge is to define and extract the value of your data.
Four attributes of data-driven companies
Companies that are data-driven, typically exemplify four attributes:
Clarity - on the problems they need to solve in business
Customer segmentation - based on behavior and attributes instead of assumption
Community - of data enthusiasts and experts who will discuss the data
Culture - of rapid iteration and experimentation.
Data use breaks silos immediately, but you have to get your organization to come together and use it to inform multiple functions. Companies that do this well typically have a leader who cares about solving big problems. They are also not afraid to rally people in the interest of looking at problems in new ways. They have developed a culture of rapid iteration. And they have a tolerance for failure.
The future of data is only going to get more complex because data volume is increasing, so our focus needs to be on extracting meaningful insights. We need both machine learning to do the heavy lifting of this, but humans to interpret context, relevance, as well as limitations.
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How do you choose perfect gamification tools for the behavior you want to drive? Driving loyalty that lasts many years requires a very different set of tools from driving participation during a conference that only lasts a few days. At LiNC 2016, Lithium’s Chief Scientist Dr. Michael Wu discussed how to use his patented gamification spectrum to address some of the most heated debates in the gamification industry. Attendees learned about a powerful framework for understanding and using existing gamification tools more effectively. Dr. Wu showed a formula for choosing the optimal set of tools for a variety of business problems—ranging from onboarding, marketing campaigns, to collaboration, innovation, customer co-creation, loyalty, and something much bigger. Here’s highlights of what Dr. Wu had to say:
According to Gartner, 80% of current gamified applications will fail to meet business objectives primarily due to poor design. The reality is that short term gamification works well, but long term is far more challenging. When you think about business problems, most of them tend to be long term. So the question becomes, how do we use gamification to solve long-term business challenges?
Psychology of gamification
Good games are engaging, but great games are addictive. Progressive challenges lead to a state of flow. (Which is an optimal state of intrinsic motivation so that you forget about physical feelings, passage of time, and ego.) Gamification requires the right skill with the right challenges to move into flow. It’s all about keeping people progressively moving in and out and returning to a state of flow. How?
As skills/abilities increase, the challenge also needs to increase, otherwise people get bored. But if it’s too challenging, people get frustrated or anxious and quit. So, you need the right amount of challenge at the right increments. The.gaming industry has mastered getting people back into the state of flow by applying the right level of challenge for the acquired skill. They control the level of difficulty in a very precise way. Every next step the player takes has to be a baby step relative to the ability they have already acquired.
The challenge then is how to decide what level of challenge and what tools to use? The Gamification Spectrum provides a framework of tools, timeframes, and feedback tools to determine which tool and timescale is appropriate to your particular goal.
Read Dr. Wu’s blog post series on The Gamification Spectrum to learn how to determine the right tools and timescale to use gamification to solve your business challenges.
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Wrapping up the morning of #LiNC16 Day 1, Lithium CMO, Katy Keim (@KatyK), took to the stage to give a sneak preview of what was to come over the next couple of days. Part of this included the unveiling of the new “Be 3D" campaign, highlighting Lithium’s unique expertise in helping brands better understand and engage with their customers in what many would call the next dimension of customer experience.
Keim kicked off her talk with a fairly bold proclamation: “Lithium is the most powerful customer network in the world.” Why? Easy answer. Lithium’s goal is to provide brands with the best possible view of the customer at all times, accomplished, in part, by the 12.5 billion social impressions the company ingests per day. That’s a whole lot of data. What this means is quite simple: through Lithium’s products and services, brands have access to a wealth of knowledge that can help them harness the true power and potential of their customers and social communities like never before.
Though, there’s a slight hitch. All these stockpiles of data – aka, “big data” – are great to have, but, as Keim warned, “Who really cares about the data, unless we’re actually doing something valuable with it?” In fact, research conducted by the team at Lithium has shown that, on average, less than 1% of companies who tap into stores of data regularly use it to its full potential. So how do we close the gap?
It’s important to keep in mind that data, in the broadest sense of the word, is not simply a synonym for your customers. They are real, living, breathing people. A data point related to a social profile or a specific transaction does not make a customer; rather, it provides insights into understanding who they are and what they care about. That’s where Lithium comes into play. Because of our position at the heart of the social web – and our ability to intertwine data related to social activity, online behaviors, and transactions – we’re able to help brands understand and anticipate their wants, needs, and expectations like no other company can.
“We need to start understanding customers in a different dimension,” explained Keim. “There is power in data, and Lithium is investing big-time to ensure that the data is working hard for our customers.” Not only does harnessing the power of data in this way enable marketing and customer care teams to be more efficient and effective as they build relationships with their customers and online communities, but it also makes it possible for them to build stronger business cases internally – as it relates to lead generation and growth, the reduction of costs, and operational excellence – to keep the social marketing engine running at full throttle.
That’s really the crux of the #Be3D campaign. Lithium makes it possible for brands to “See More, Know More, and Do More.” This was just a quick preview of that strategy. We can’t wait for the sessions to come where we see how Lithium’s products – including the release of Lithium Reach – deliver on this promise. You definitely don’t want to miss this – follow our live updates on Twitter and Instagram via #LiNC16 to learn more.
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At LiNC 2016, we heard directly from Lithium customers on how they are using Total Community to create durable transformation in their businesses. Kriti Kapoor, Global Director, Social Customer at HP; Renee Horne, VP Social Business, at USAA; and Mark Nichols, Customer Service Director, at Skype, offered their insights and advice on how Total Community empowers their social customer service to take their businesses to the next level and drive durable transformation. Here’s highlights of what they had to say:
HP, Kriti Kapoor (@kkapoor): Our journey at HP is all about following our customers in their journey - they lead us where they want to go. We’re actively preparing for the future of customer service. We currently have 533M web support visits per year, 125M support forum visits, 37M customer interactions in 170 countries, in 40 languages. We’re happy to report that 90% of our customer service interactions are digital and we’re seeing mobile as the place to be now for social support. In China, we’re starting to see conversational commerce via mobile devices and we recently launched support via WeChat to drive better service and enable self-solve when possible. Our communities are powered by Lithium and we’ve recently expanded our Lithium Social Web capabilities, including a pilot of Lithium Reach. Now, 70% of answers take place through peer support or our SuperUser program. We are also pleased to report that all 75,000 posts each month are responded to, our NPS went up 12 points in the last nine months and we’ve seen a 44% improvement in minutes-to-solution time. What have we learned in our social journey? Focus on the customer. Understand the cost drivers. Create a team culture of innovation. And don’t be afraid to fail.
USAA, Renee Horne (@rlhorne): USAA was created in 1922 by servicemembers and grew into an organization to help build financial security for its military members. We have 11.4 million members now and historically, we have grown by word of mouth. The military has a very high affinity for digital and social media usage, capabilities, and technology. Social media keeps them connected. Additionally, social media has automated word of mouth. USAA pioneered the 1-800 customer care model and phone calls were our primary way to connect with members. Today,, digital has broken down traditional concepts of community where we are no longer limited by physical proximity. At USAA, Total Community brings together the various data points, but even more so, it connects real people to real people, member to member. We think holistically. We’ve learned to separate the “noise” from meaningful insights in our data to integrate social to solve business challenges and serve our members. We are now 24/7 in social, and have a 15 minute or less response time. Because Total Community is the essence of knowing and taking care of our members, we can provide more support to them and provide better value. It’s all about understanding what is most important to serve the customer. In the last 90 days, since we’ve expanded our Lithium Social Web, we have reduced manual routing, cycle time, and improved compliance. Total Community has improved engagement, deepened relationships, and improved the delivery of relevant information. USAA has realized $4.5M incremental lifetime value, and a +22 point lift in brand favorability and +11 point lift in brand awareness. It’s all about serving our members in ways that enable us to stay relevant.
Skype, Mark Nichols (@markcnichols): The Skype community has primarily been a developer community so that we could gain customer feedback and apply it to our product development. In 2010, we had 750,000 members. We now have 4 million. Community has enabled us to grow tremendously. We strive to build enduring customer relationships and successful user journeys. Part of that is humanizing customer support and putting community at the heart of all our thinking. The Skype Community has 1,000 messages posted per day, localized in 11 languages, and now includes customer education and support. Last year, we were inspired at LiNC to try a Community Day, and when we did, we saw 400% increase in staff participation in community conversations and a continual 25% increase in those who have stayed more involved. We also use badging to reward community members which has driven deeper and longer lasting community engagement. Today, the Skype Community is at the heart of our company, it alerts our teams to potential issues faster than our internal sources can. What have we learned? Enable single sign on - make it easy to register, we doubled our registrations by doing so. Engage the A-list at your organization to get involved, and remember they may not be in your department. Create events rather than react to them. Introduce, extend, and normalize gamification; and ingest data, remove barriers to access, and simplify interpretation. Finally, start to find ways to view your customer as one customer regardless of how many product lines they purchase from. See them holistically, and from the point of the entire value they provide to your company.
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Beyond disruption: creating durable transformation
Digital is past the tipping point. We need to shift from the hype of digital disruption to creating a lasting change in our businesses. A Total Community approach is at the center of how brands deepen their engagement with customers across sales, marketing, and service. The next dimension of customer experience includes activities before and after the purchase, including the ability to reach, respond, and understand your customers. It also helps brands to learn from and leverage the full spectrum of customer data. In the opening keynote at LiNC 2016 by LIthium CEO Rob Tarkoff ( @RobT ) we learned why we need to act now, or risk losing a whole generation of customers. Here’s highlights of what Rob had to say:
Disruption is here to stay
Disruption is a necessary part of business. But spotting disruption in your business is not enough, you need a strategy for what happens post-disruption. A strategy to turn disruption into lasting change. The question we all need to ask ourselves is: have we implemented a path to drive permanent change? That strategy needs to be in place to address past disruption and enable you to manage disruption in the future.
Total Community is also here to stay
At LiNC 2015, we introduced the Total Community concept. Today, companies are not asking, “Should I do Total Community?” but, “How should I do it?” They have realized that Total Community is not an add-on to how you do community, it’s an entirely new strategy to build lasting change for your business and improve customer experience.
Total community has passed the tipping point.The IDC predicts that 65% of support will be digital in 2018. Call deflection has been a major driver: AT&T reports saving $45 million. Cisco generated $52 million in case deflection. Deutsche Telecom reports that 80% of their customer service inquiries are answered within their community. But call deflection is not the only driving factor. Sky increased their net promoter score to 71 points. There are major customer satisfaction and service factors at play.
IDC also reports that 30% of sales are influenced by community. Community drives prospects to product pages and drives revenue generation. Industry analysts are naming and framing Community as new categories. We’re under major category creation that helps CEOs understand why Total Community is invaluable to the business. It is taking center stage in dashboards with sales, service costs, and satisfaction anchoring how the business is performing from the customer’s perspective. What has become clear is that Total Community is not a nice to have, it’s a necessity. If you don’t have it, you risk missing an entire generation of customers. .
Adopt a growth mindset
The challenge we all face in social, is that we still have to change some of the mindsets of leaders within our companies. We need to break through perceptions and help people adopt a growth mindset to be willing to take risks and embrace opportunities.
How have companies done this?
HP realized they were siloed and had skeptics who doubted how social would make an impact. Their social team became savvy at metrics, built a business plan, and now social thrives in the company.
USAA knows that digital and social are the most critical connection point between U.S. military members and their families. USAA faced compliance challenges and had to develop a growth mindset so that social and community data were incorporated into the core of what they do as financial services company. They built a business case proving that social needed to be a core fundamental part of the business.
Skype built a business case to prove that Total Community has deep value for their developers and customers. Their 4 million community members provide input into their product development and keep evolving their product and service development.
It’s time to complete the customer experience system
What we find, is that today’s CRMs by themselves just aren’t enough anymore. They operate in silos, focus on 1:1 transactions, and are starved of critical data. Total Community is designed for the real customer lifecycle, is free of silos and incorporates critical, new data. It bridges the sales, service, marketing, and customer silos and puts the customer at the center. This creates a complete customer experience system.
Data drives a multidimensional perspective of your customer and we need to start seeing them in 3D - not just who they are and what they purchase, but how they behave on social, what their interests are, and how they prefer to interact on social. The world of the customer is all about what happens before purchase and post-purchase. We have to start seeing customers through their way of experiencing this process. Your growth mindset equals your new platform.
Lithium is now able to provide you the complete platform
We are super excited to introduce Lithium Reach -- a social marketing tool that allows you to publish content from within your community and helps make the service team part of every promotion. Lithium Reach offers intuitive, easy to use content scheduling. It bridges the gap in today’s publishing tools to bring the whole picture together. Now you can connect on social channels, engage in branded communities, and understand the deep insights from customers to drive lasting change.
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"The future is coming at us really fast.”
It’s a crisp, cool day in San Francisco. 1,000 of attendees from around the world have gathered to celebrate #LiNC16. Little did we know that our minds would be blown (literally) the minute we all stepped into the conference hall.
Well, that’s exactly what happened when @JasonSilva took to the stage to give a keynote that definitely gave our minds a solid morning workout.
He spoke about the future, a future that’s barreling towards us faster than ever before thanks to the convergence of technology and human imagination. “Exponential change is the rate at which technology advances,” said Silva with a tremendous amount of excitement, “we use technology to overextend our boundaries, our reach, and our limits.” And a lot of that is due in part to those “magical” devices we carry around with us wherever we go: our smart phones. In fact, “the supercomputers of yesterday are now in everyone’s hands,” said Silva. The opportunity for us to imagine, inspire, and give “mankind a massive upgrade” – through technology – is literally in the palm of our hands!
To do this, however, we have to embrace the simple fact that the boundaries between technology and the real world are collapsing onto each other. “Software is eating the world,” Silva explained, “the apps of the future are the apps that will hack our biology.” What does that mean? We’ll start to rely more and more on technology to optimize our bodies, to optimize our lives, and to understand our existence in ways that humans alone cannot achieve. Though, as this happens, we’ll start to see "the distinction between self and world disappear,” as the technology around us will essentially become just as real as the world we live in. Silva spoke about the theory of singularity: “We are all becoming one thing – man and technology, the born and the made.”
A great example of this is the on-demand economy – driven by brands like Uber and Airbnb that are closing the gap between thought and action. As Silva put it, “the on-demand economy is essentially ‘cognitizing’ the world; it’s going to make our lives feel magical.” But only if we are able to escape the confines of our “cognitive comfort zone.” When we do, the opportunity to impact the world truly has no limits. In fact, in Silva’s mind, “a billionaire of today is someone who positively affects the lives of a billion people,” urging us all to aspire to that goal.
There’s a lot more where that came from, but we don’t want to blow your minds too early in the day (we know, it’s a lot to absorb!). However, if this is any indication of what’s in store for the rest of the #LiNC16, then it’s safe to say that the next two days will be nothing short of exceptional. Don’t miss out – follow us at #LiNC16 on Twitter and Instagram for live updates.
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Each year at LiNC, we work to create a fabulous experience for our attendees, and that begins with the theme. We are excited about this year's theme, but don’t get confused as it sounds similar to one of our CEO’s favorite TV shows! Check out the reveal video:
Thanks to our acting talent: Rob (@RobT), Katy (@KatyK) and Sunil (@SunilR)! And Aaron (@AaronBr), our intrepid Video Director!
Register here to see more talent up close & personal at LiNC '16.
See you in a few weeks! Dayle
LiNC '16: It's a Wrap!
LiNC '16: Social Recap
LiNC '16: A Photographer's Story
Dayle Hall is the VP of Brand & Digital Marketing for Lithium. He is responsible for the visual representation of the brand, including all digital properties such as lithium.com, Lithium community and social media channels. Dayle is a marketing executive with 17+ years experience across all marketing disciplines. Prior to joining Lithium, he led Corporate Marketing and Corporate Communications at Aruba Networks where he developed the industry leading community of Wi-Fi technical advocates, Airheads Social. He has also held multiple marketing roles at Cisco and Oracle. Follow him on twitter @marinadazza
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When your boss tells you that you’ve been approved to attend a professional conference, curbing your enthusiasm for getting paid time out of the office can be a bit of a challenge. Especially when said conference is in a bustling urban city like New York, San Francisco, Miami, or Chicago. Don’t deny it. We’ve all been there.
There’s something about business travel that just gets people going. And professional conferences seem to add a little extra element of surprise to the mix, as you never know what big announcements will be made or what fun extra-curricular activities will be planned to keep you entertained from start to finish.
But, let’s face it, as fun as it may sound to be a professional conference goer, the reality is that too much of a good thing is, well, too much. What ends up happening is something I like to call “conference blindness” – or, in simpler terms, attending conferences in a constant state of auto-pilot.
Your attendance at these events is to gain new insights and make new contacts, with the sole purpose of identifying ways to grow your own business or to add value to the business you represent as an employee. Sure, “networking” is a big part of this equation. However, when you’re either spread too thin across multiple conferences or unsure as to what business purpose you have being there in the first place, the ultimate value of those experiences (for you) can quickly start to dwindle.
Sometimes I think it’s important to take a step back and ask yourself this question: Do I really need to attend that conference? If you’re still on the fence, here are a few tips to help you make that decision and, should you decide to go, make the most out of it.
You don’t need to attend every conference that comes your way. Be judicious about which events are critical for you to attend. We have to consciously ask ourselves, “what value do I bring to this event” as well as “what value will this event bring to me.” If the perceived value of attendance isn’t worth the cost of attending or your time, then you may want to think twice before committing. The time you spend at conferences should be worthwhile.
Now that you’ve decided to attend a conference, you really need to attend it. There’s no point in going just to “see and be seen.” That does very little for you and even less for your business or the business you represent. So if you go to a conference, make it a priority to actively participate in all the programming that’s been planned for you. Attend the early morning breakfasts (it’s a great networking opportunity!), find the breakout sessions that are most relevant (and interesting) to you, and don’t miss out on the evening activities (that’s half the fun!).
Remember the Basics
As a rule of thumb, there are three things you should always do when attending a conference:
Learn from your peers – The great thing about conferences is that they bring together some really intelligent, insightful, and inspiring people from various parts of your industry. Let them share their knowledge with you. You will only get smarter as a result.
Sharpen your skills – There’s only so much information we can truly learn and soak in through press releases, thought leadership content, webinars, and the like. Conferences can sometimes be like an adult “playground,” giving you an opportunity to roll up your sleeves and play with all those products you’ve been dying to see (and experience for yourself!). Product demos are there to be enjoyed. By all means, go play!
Give feedback – Sure, there’s a lot of information shared at conferences. However, that doesn’t mean your role in attending is simply to be a sponge. Just like the online communities we help brands build and grow, conferences create the space for a two-way dialogue between attendees and both the conference organizers and attending vendors. Your feedback to them is priceless. They want to know what you think because, in the long run, that kind of feedback will help them create better products and experiences that ultimately meet your specific needs and Don’t be shy.
Learn Something New
This may seem like a given. The purpose of a conference is obviously to learn something new. However, to ensure you return home with real and tangible insights that you didn’t have before, make a point to jot down the top three things you’ve learned and share it with your team or colleagues the minute you’re back in the office. Not only does this hold yourself accountable for being present, but it gives you a great opportunity to share knowledge with others. Remember, your participation in these conferences is just as much about investing in yourself as it is in providing value back to your business. We owe it to ourselves to never stop learning!
These are just a few tips to help you clear the conference clutter. As you may know, at Lithium, we’re busy getting ready for LiNC 2016 in early June, where we’ll do a deep dive into our Total Community platform, share best practices around building, growing, and maintaining branded communities, and even throw in a few surprises. Register today and we'll see you at LiNC!
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Not too long ago, I posted my Manifesto for LiNC’16. I was pumped about the plans we were making, and how this year’s conference was shaping up. Caught up in the excitement of it all, I had forgotten about the work involved in LiNC preparation, and now I am truly in the thick of it with @KatyK, @RichRe, @FranciscaF and the rest of the marketing team! That being said, we are as eager as ever!
The question on my mind today: are YOU ready? What are you looking forward to this year? The keynotes? The parties? The hands-on sessions with our talented Services team?
If you can’t decide, allow me to help. Here are the top 10 reasons to register for LiNC this year!
We are talking Total Community . And if you aren’t talking Total Community yet, you should be, and we can help!
Industry analyst love LiNC – Check out Paul Greenberg’s review of last year’s conference .
LiNC gives attendees unparalleled insights from top analysts, brands, and influencers, such as Gartner and Forr ester. Check out how Lithium was featured in the Forrester Wave !
Get the best tips to justify your social marketing activities.
Data everywhere! Get the lowdown on the latest product roadmap and insight in to Lithium’s analytics
Lithy winners for 2016 are recognized and awarded live on stage!
Get the inside scoop on how Lithium Social Web (LSW) is giving customers the competitive advantage with exclusive product overviews.
Our pre-conference workshops are packed with the best education and training, including two new master classes to add to the value of your LiNC experience!
Hear from analysts, influencers and customers about the progress and direction of social customer service.
Find out how companies are inducing growth rates and adapting to the customer-centric world.
Actually, I could keep going but I have a day of LiNC planning ahead of me. Don’t miss out on this event, and I’ll see you in SF in June!
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We are about to open registration for our LiNC event in June 2016. I get a lot of questions about what it takes to run LiNC, and I get a lot of opinions on what I can do better. I am OK with both of those, because LiNC means a lot to the people who attend. It’s bigger than just an ‘event’. To kick off this year’s gathering, I thought I would share my LiNC manifesto for 2016.
LiNC is: Greater than the sum of its parts.
The LiNC experience is unlike any other event. It is an experience from the second you receive the first invite, to the last slide on the main stage as the lights fade and the music rolls.
When you join Lithium as an employee, you become part of a promise and a tradition that started many years ago. To deliver the greatest event experience to our customers, prospects, partners and employees. This event is a reminder of who we are.
LiNC is what our company stands for--from the highest vision to the smallest feature and from the person you meet at registration to our leaders on the stage. LiNC is how we show up, and the feeling you get from working with us.
For our team, it’s a constant in our life for 12 months of the year. Even before we are making things happen live, we are dreaming, innovating and planning to make the next LiNC better than the last.
LiNC is truly greater than the sum of its parts. It is networking and learning, inspiration and execution. It is colleagues, peers, friends and family.
This year, we will deliver inspiring keynotes that remind us why we do what we do and give us the courage and strength to drive change and innovation in our organizations. We will deliver training and education so we can all grow our personal presence and be more fulfilled in our daily lives. We will deliver an immersive and welcoming environment where it is safe to share ideas, experiences and fun with everyone there.
My commitment to you, on behalf of all the team, is to deliver the greatest event experience.
This will be my 6 th LiNC event: 1 as a prospect, 2 as a customer; and 3 as an employee. I am more excited about this event than I have ever been.
And with that, I say, ‘Welcome to LiNC 2016’.
Click here to join the events group and find out about the Alumni registration for LiNC 2016.
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