SXSW: Brian Solis - How Your Brand Can Succeed on The Web

Kipp Bodnar
Kipp Bodnar



Brian Solis is principal of FutureWorks , an award-winning new media marketing and branding agency in Silicon Valley.  He is also the author of the new book, Engage . Today, at one of the first sessions of South By South West Interactive, Solis along with Jeremiah Owyang , Frank Eliason and Dennis Crowley from FourSquare gave key insights for businesses looking to succeed on the Web to a pack room of marketing and public relations professionals.

The social web has changed how businesses interact with customers and has raised the bar for customer expectations. Solis believes that individuals are defining a new era of society and how we ultimately communicate with one another. The Web has brought a new level of transparency to business. Offline and online interactions combine to serve the overall brand of your business.

Solis says social media is causing corporate change from the bottom-up within organizations. Social media gives businesses the opportunity to check perception and reality related to brands.  The social web democratizes the influence and how brands are perceived.  Solis referenced his conversation prism to illustrate the conversations that can happen on the social web.

Social media is more about sociology and psychology than technology according to Solis. Understanding how people communicate with each other is a key to marketing success, and social media provides insight into what people care about and information they want from businesses.  People become fans of businesses online because brands offer and continue to provide value.

Solis says that companies must have social media style guides to help the brand thrive on the social web. Having a clear voice online is important to engaging potential customers. Some companies using social media to market their businesses are missing an opportunity because they are driving people from social sites to boring static websites that don't offer a valuable experience for potential customers.

Solis highlighted research pointing out that women dominate usage on the social web and that they must be considered when marketing to influencers and helping information to spread online.

Cases of Success

Solis brought panelists onto the stage with him to point out examples of companies using social media well to improve their businesses.

Foursquare :

One example that was given: local businesses earlier this year started rewarding customers for using social network Foursquare . More than 1,500 businesses are currently providing offers to customers for visiting their business and using Foursquare by providing discounts and free goods. Dennis from Foursquare shared that by their one year anniversary, they now have 540,000 users. He defined Foursquare as a place where people connect with people they want to meet in real life. As a marketer, Foursquare suggests that you leverage features that have an impact on customers such as providing relevant tips, like social bread crumbs.

Comcast :

Frank from Comcast addressed that social media gave Comcast the opportunity to learn from its customers in order to improve its service. Comcast has 11 people on their customer service team to help monitor and address customer issues that are shared online. Frank points out that improving service can help to improve marketing and public relations because it has an impact on all facets of business. Measuring customer service should not be about the lowest handle time; it should be about solving problems. Frank says that companies need a chief customer officer to change the approach of how customers are prioritized within a business.

Altimeter Group

Jeremiah Owyang talked about the need to scale customer interactions for businesses. He noted that social media customer management software that will integrate social conversations into CRM data will help companies scale online interactions. Customers don't care about what department you are in; they want their problem solved. Jeremiah argued that customer support should report to marketing instead of technical services. He also mentioned a post he wrote about brands who got punked by social media . Companies need to get the organization ready from a policy and organizational standpoint.  Social media empowers customers not to make mistakes when making purchasing decisions, meaning companies need to pay attention to word-of-mouth. 

If you are attending SXSW, be sure to check-in to HubSpot's Virtual Booth and check out our full SXSW content feed at .


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