John Ragsdale, vice president of technology research for the Technology Services Industry Association (TSIA), led a panel at the Enterprise 2.0 conference about how companies can measure and use social engagement with their customers. His recap of the panel along with a few takeaways follows. Republished with permission.

Yesterday at the Enterprise 2.0 Conference at the Santa Clara Convention Center I served as a moderator for a panel entitled “Social Channels: Engagement, Integration and Response”. The panelists included a mix of B2B and B2C experts: Franck Ardourel, Sr. Director, Online Marketing, 24 Hour Fitness; Peter Simonsen, Sr. Director, Web and Community, QlikTech; and Daniel Zucker, Social Media Manager, Autodesk.

We had a good crowd for the session, and lots of audience questions – which made my job as moderator much easier. I opened with an overview of TSIA data from our 2011 Social Media Survey, just completed last month. I tried to make the point that while there are lots of opinions out there about social media, we now have data proving which best practices are delivering business value, i.e., ROI for social media projects. Best practices with proven results include integrating online community into the corporate website, including single sign-on; creating performance dashboards for the community to be sure all questions are being addressed; integrating social media activity with CRM so every customer interaction or touch point is captured; and offering federated search of self-service knowledgebase content AND online community content.

Dan Zucker from Autodesk discussed the company’s social media evolution, from first introducing forums and blogs, then a period of social media experimentation, and finally as the processes matured, operationalizing social media so it became part of core operations. He highlighted three key steps in succesful operationalizing of social media. The first is creating a central touch point for social media to guide corporate strategy, training, policies, infrastructure, etc. The second was naming a core social media team to guide and inform strategy and provide leadership on execution. The third, which I found fascinating, was the creation of a Social Web Council of employees and customers who are social media enthusiasts or have social media-focused roles. The Council shares best practices and keeps a dialog going about emerging trends.  When asked what sort of people to look for when staffing social media project leads, Dan quoted one of his managers, “They should be contortionists.” I love that and totally understand – social media gurus must be able to bend in many directions, and adjust to rapid change with aplomb.

Next up was Peter Simonsen from QlikTech. Peter described the history of the highly successful QlikCommunity, with over 65,000 active members. An interesting angle of Peter’s story is that QlikTech views their community as a critical lead generator. By offering free trial downloads of their software, they involve prospects in community discussions on best practices for the tools, with 10,000 leads being referred to the community each month with a surprisingly high conversion rate. Not only has the QlikCommunity been instrumental in harnessing customer advocates to gather insight, that insight has been leveraged to create a better QlikView product, using IdeaStorming or Ideation.

The third presenter was an expert in consumer social media, Franck Ardourel from 24 Hour Fitness. In the consumer world, social media is not just about the online discussion forum. Franck has been building the 24 Hour Fitness brand across popular social media channels, with great success: 200,000 fans receiving exclusive deals on Facebook, 28,000 Twitter followers, 430 clubs driving 200,000 visits a month on Yelp, 3.1 million views on YouTube, and special incentives and offers to customers on Foursquare. In addition, 24 Hour offers a dedicated online community for customers. With his aggressive strategy, Franck has delivered business value, including acquiring new customers with a higher and faster ROI, increasing brand awareness and sentiment, and decreasing customer service costs. Franck told a great story about how customers organized to raise their specific club’s ratings on Yelp, wanting their location to be recognized.

I’d like to thank each of the panelists for sharing such actionable information, and a special thanks to Sameer Patel of Savos Group, the chair for this conference track who asked me to participate. And thanks as always to all of you for reading!

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ABOUT John Ragsdale

Avatar photoJohn Ragsdale is vice president of technology and social research for the Technology Services Industry Association. He writes a regular blog, Eye on Service, for the TSIA.