Jeremy Waite, Head of Social Media at Phones4U and has worked for Phones4U for one year putting in place their social media strategy. He has previously been involved agency side for 10 years, working with Reebok, MTV, Agent Provocateur and Manchester City. He recently worked with Unilever on their Marmite project and has written a book for virgin called Sex, Brands and Rock'n'Roll and took some time out to work as a giraffe keeper for a year. This is the transcript of an interview we conducted with him about his views of the future of using social media and how to utilise big data in business.
"Phones4U has a very strong business model, I've worked with some very fast moving brands, the speed of development in the mobile market, partly because of the retail model but generally because we work in mobile, and things change with technology. Handset manufacturers trying to outpace another, launches of specific new features, under complete secrecy, and everything is launched to a fanfair.
The business model is such a sales focused model, and whilst Phones4U has a fraction of the stores compare to competitors but we sell more mobile phones. However when it comes down to customer loyalty and retention, last year our competitors and networks were doing slightly better in the customer loyalty sphere."
How important is Big Data to you
"Data is massively important to us, but its two sides of the same coin. We're trying to reflect what we're doing in retail and replicate that online. You can draw a line down the middle between acquisition and engagement and this is where the most successful businesses understand the fine balance between the two. Swing too far towards acquisition and you start beating your customers around the head with offers. Focus too much around engagement and it becomes fluffy and you won't see any hardcore figures or numbers.
We've put data at the heart of social. When the board recognised that social isn't just here to be a platform to sell your consumers more goods, that in fact we can use this to get as much data as possible, with 800 million people on Facebook everyone of whom has a huge amount of data attached to their profile, how can we use that data to figure out what mobile phone they are most likely to buy and sell it to them at the right point. This is Big Data in its most commercial form. As a business we need to recognise that that journey may be up to two years long, they may have just bought a mobile phone, and we need to engage with them with the correct content on a day-to-day/week-to-week process until they are ready to repurchase. Give them cool stuff to share with their friends or for current customers, provide them with outstanding customer service, so they recognise that we do have access to all this data, however we recognise it's not appropriate to use this channel for sales messages at this time. It we use data in the correct way socially, then that will ultimately lead to better customer retention.
It's taken almost a year to put in place our social media strategy, and if I could give one piece of advice to anyone starting a social media strategy it would be this: take social media out of the marketing department and add it to the ecommerce side of the business.
This is how we got buy ins from the board, and extra budget for a social strategy, Social media isn't judged in the same way that a typical marketing campaign would be. Take our TV campaign, with the horror film parodies, which a lot of marketing budget was spent on. Whilst this campaign created great awareness for the company, how many people who saw that advert went out and bought a phone? Where did they go after ways, what did they click, did they share this advert with their friends, how much did that advert drive conversations with their friends? It's really difficult to identify results from traditional marketing campaigns.
However with Social Campaigns, we'll run a campaign and we'll know tomorrow what the figures are going to be, we'll know in real time exactly what the return in impressions was, what the ROI is, we know how it's impacted share and voice straight away and how it's affected sentiment. We can use metrics such as engagement per thousand, rather than click through rates or cost per acquisition.
Because this is the language the web team use. Even though I'm responsible for engagement and they're responsible for acquisition, because we use a similar kind of language and it's a different type of ROI but it's still in the same space, it's not the slightly fluffier metrics that the marketing team use, it make the board understand our progress. We're not the kids that play on Facebook any more; we can offer some serious commercial value."
Has there been any push back from the IT or Marketing Department.
"No, in fact it's completely the opposite. I've just had a conversation with the IT Director and he is beside himself with excitement about everything we can do in Social. There's a couple of reasons for that, one of them being the amount of data we can get that we can do something useful with and the other reason is, certainly on platforms such a Facebook it doesn't impact him! It doesn't make his job harder, I'm not send him IT requests, he doesn't have a huge amount of work to do fix bugs or potential conflicts or impact on the website. I can do something on Facebook and it doesn't impact him at all, yet he gets the benefit with increase web traffic. It complements the way the IT guys work at the moment."
Part two to follow tomorrow! For update from the Big Data community, add the RSS feed from this blog here: Add Big Data RSS