“The advancement of AI solutions is a powerful tool for a company to better understand customer data and the effectiveness of a company’s operations.”
On Marketing Technology
MTS: Tell us about your role and how you got here? What inspired you to start a content marketing company?
I’m the Founder, Chairman, and CEO of LiveWorld, which is a social customer experience company. We believe the most compelling content is the conversations with and among customers. My career has been centered around developing online and social network communities for people to communicate. Building software and services solutions that allow companies to participate in dialogue with their customers —even before social media platforms were used worldwide by billions of people. Prior to founding LiveWorld, I worked at Apple for 12 years and held the position of VP & GM of Apple Internet Services Division when I left the company. There our team pioneered many elements of what has evolved to social media today. We created AppleLink, which if it were here today would be considered a global Apple industry social network. We had a hand in creating AOL and Salon. Our last major program was eWorld, a critically acclaimed community-centric online service. But those were the days Apple was in chaos and they couldn’t see it through. Our core team left to create an Internet-based company that would do for other Fortune 500 firms what we did for Apple. Leverage the power of online community to deepen customer relationships. We also created a Facebook precursor, Talk City. But it was too early and we had to let it go in the great crash of 2001. Since then we’ve been focused entirely on the other part of our business software and services to help large brands manage their customer conversations in online communities and social media.
MTS: Why do both automation and human review matter in ad moderation?
The rise of social media and messaging apps has taught me quite a bit about our evolving culture. As a society, we are increasingly facing the opportunity and challenge to balance automation and human labor. Whether that’s factories, cars, or social media. The key success factor will be managing that balance fluidly as it will constantly change. It’s important to note that automation is a powerful way to scale moderation of advertisements and user content and to bring richer experiences to customers. But it still requires human oversight and some human engagement to make sure the content is appropriate and the customer experience is as desired
A blend of automation and humans is also valuable for marketing campaigns. Chatbots enable brands to scale simple interactions with customers and when automated solutions reach their limits they can be programmed to handoff the dialogue to a live agent. One of messaging’s strengths is its ability to provide personal conversations and create deeper relationships with customers by opening a two-way dialogue. The combination of chatbots and humans enable brands to be not just always on, which is about access, but also always present. Always present is about being there to help the customer in their daily lives, whether for purchase decisions or when engaging marketing content.
MTS: In a highly sensitive brand safety industry, what are the most effective ways to create more transparency to prevent dark post advertisements?
Facebook, Twitter, and Google have certainly come under scrutiny recently for dark post advertisements. Companies are being held accountable now more than ever for the ads that are posted across social media channels. Dark post advertisements must be labeled as “sponsored post” or “promoted post” and with links to the advertiser providing them to create more transparency on the messages being shared across social media platforms. A higher standard for transparency should be implemented. Brands and social media companies need to share details with users such as who paid for the post, how long it has been posted, who the ad is targeting, and how much was spent will provide greater insights about the impact of dark post advertisements.
MTS: What would it take the business leaders to fully leverage social media intelligence tools for better ROI and stay competitive?
The challenge for businesses is there is all this terrific real-time consumer information but they tend to point a tool at the ocean of data to see what they’ll find. Then, drown in that ocean. First one has to decide what decisions will be impacted and then design a focused social intelligence program to derive the information to support it. In order to capitalize on it you must have more than social media intelligence tools. The software applications are great for measurement and organizing data, but you also need humans to determine how to organize it relative to your industry, category and customer. Additionally, a person with domain expertise needs to analyze the data and funnel it back to the organization in order for them to respond and take advantage of these opportunities.
At LiveWorld, we fill the gap left by software platforms with adept social media marketers, analysts, and strategists. Working with brands we’re delivering reports to company executives, teams within the marketing department, and sometimes customer service. Based on the company’s ability to respond to that information, those reports range from daily to quarterly.
Staying competitive today requires knowing what drives the conversation in social media and not merely the easy metrics.
MTS: How does LiveWorld enable customers to build a strong Brand- Agency-Audience relationship?
We specialize in handling the speed and scale requirements of brands to engage customers 1-on-1 in real time and deliver personalized interactions with a human touch. Our software is designed to track and manage dialogue across any digital channel, with chatbots and live agents and integrate that customer data with enterprise systems. Companies are able to increase engagement, more quickly resolve customer issues, and improve ROI of social media, messaging app programs in marketing or customer service.
MTS: What are the impending challenges for brands in leveraging social media messaging platforms effectively?
Brands must adapt to the “always-connected” customer and shift their mindset from always-on to always-present. That might sound like a subtle change, but it isn’t. Rather than creating content that is available 24/7 for consumers to engage, brands now must find ways to proactively deliver value through education, entertainment, and assistance, so that you can be present throughout the day. Failing to meet this standard opens the door for competitors like Amazon that are eager to fill the gap.
Consumers want to interact with a brand in real-time when it fits their schedule, and meets their demands. The impending challenges for brands is how to scale conversations with consumers without losing the human touch the customer seeks. It may sound like a daunting task, but it’s not when pairing chatbots with humans to respond to incoming messages. The selection of an advanced solution enables brands to communicate with individuals across social media and messaging channels on the preferred platform of each customer.
MTS: How do chatbot integrations influence full-funnel sales journeys? How should modern sales teams better utilize chatbots for social conversations?
Chatbots compress the sales cycle because it allows consumers rather than digital marketers to determine how quickly they move through a buying process. Conversational commerce will accelerate marketing, sales, and customer service because now your brand is in the pocket of more customers that ever downloaded your app. Messaging apps make these conversations 1-on-1 and private enabling more personalized messaging, proactive brand engagement, and ultimately more transactions.
Sales teams can leverage chatbots to initiate dialogue with customers and determine how they can best help them with their decision-making process. The key is to think of these automated brand conversations as more than simple a bot, but many different bots, or many different planned conversations. When built right, the marketing group is matching a bot and planned conversation with the correlating marketing tactic. These entry points for brand conversations can be advertisements, social media posts, consumer driven inquiries, etc. Once the conversations are initiated, then organizations need a simple way to connect customers with the experts in their company, so the bot can hand them off to close a sale that might be transactional but wasn’t completed with the chatbot. Digital marketers sometimes overlook that humans need a human connection and validation from the brand that what they’re buying is what they want.
MTS: What startups are you watching/keen on right now?
I’m always interested in learning about startups that are impacting the social media, messaging, and customer service industries and how companies are integrating AI and bots to advance solutions.
WeChat, the most popular messaging platform in China has made huge waves with being an essential part of the daily lives of people to communicate with brands, family, and friends. Just like Facebook’s Messenger, WeChat continues to evolve to be much more than a messaging app with the introduction of new features to advance payment and photo solutions.
Also, Unmetric, a social media intelligence platform company has been advancing the way brands can analyze, track, and discover content across social channels to provide their clients an edge over competitors.
MTS: What tools does your marketing stack consist of in 2017?
At LiveWorld we use a consolidated set of tools for marketing automation, email, search marketing, web and landing pages. We’ve integrated our marketing tech stack with sales automation, lead identification and a series of other tools to clean and update our contact database. We use a couple of social media listening and management tools that provide marketing analytics and insights to help sharpen our focus on audience targeting and content strategy. We also use cloud services to produce and edit video and deliver webinars.
MTS: Would you tell us about your standout digital campaign? (Who was your target audience and how did you measure success?)
One of our standout digital campaigns for a client was the original Dove Campaign for Real Beauty in 2004-2006. The campaign drove sales up by 51% – but the power of the campaign was more than sales. The strength of the campaign came from the overwhelming word of mouth chain reaction, fueled by social media and Dove’s online communities. It was discussed everywhere including Oprah, The View, and countless national consumer magazines.
Social media gave Dove the opportunity to interact with its female customers and create an environment that inspires loyalty. The campaign built a powerful brand narrative through shared stories and experiences, first among its customers and then with the brand.
Empowering women to tell their stories and build relationships was center to the success of the campaign. It was a powerful example of customer-centric emotional marketing versus product message marketing.
Ogilvy is the advertising agency behind the brilliant creative concept and ads, but we developed and managed the original online community and social media aspect of the campaign.
A more recent campaign is the Walmart Twitter Elves program. The campaign enabled Walmart to open friendly, charming, helpful, season-appropriate engagement — spreading the holiday spirit by interacting socially with people for a positive customer holiday experience.
Starting in November 2011, Walmart “Elves” on Twitter began a process of round-the-clock active listening to reach out with good cheer, solve customer issues, put customer experiences in the forefront, and allow customers to find and acquire what they needed. The elves were committed to helping customers navigate a harried shopping season, rather than just pushing promotions or answering questions. The personality of the program brought an element of unanticipated charm to interactions with shoppers, who clearly appreciated it.
Over the course of the holiday season the elves sent more than 8,000 tweets, reached over 700,000 users, directly engaged with more than 2,000 customers, and resolved or escalated to Walmart customer support 3,000 customer service inquiries.
MTS: How do you prepare for an AI-centric world as a business leader?
Technology is always evolving. AI is the future and must be embraced. As a business leader, the advancements of AI solutions are powerful tools for a company to better understand customer data and the effectiveness of company operations. However, the rise of AI shouldn’t eliminate the human interactions that take place within the company. There are many aspects of business that do and will require a human touch. Not the least of which is customers, employees, and partners emotionally want a human touch. While change may be welcomed by some, resistance is also very common by others. It’s not enough to have a new technology no matter how great it is. The people in your organization have to be willing to embrace, accept, and leverage it. The value of AI can be tremendous, so keep the entire company involved in the transition to keep an open dialogue about the shift to new AI solutions.
Also Read: How Are Tech Marketers Managing Content?
This Is How I Work
MTS: One word that best describes how you work.
MTS: What apps/software/tools can’t you live without?
I can’t live without Facebook, Messenger, Instagram, iMessage, and email. I’m always interacting with people across social media and messaging channels. Photography is a personal passion of mine, so I also cannot live without my photo apps. Currently iCamera, Leonardo and Whitagram.
MTS: What’s your smartest work-related shortcut or productivity hack?
My productivity hack for work is to organize what will and also what won’t get done each day. This approach enables me to prioritize on the tasks to focus on and complete every day.
MTS: What are you currently reading? (What do you read, and how do you consume
When not exploring the news landscape on News & Guts, I enjoy biographies, science fiction novels, and assorted photography books. Currently, in those categories I’m reading: Leonardo da Vinci by Walter Isaacson, Death’s Mistress by Terry Goodkind, and Mastering Photoshop Masks by Robin Whalley.
MTS: What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?
The best advice that I received was from Steve Jobs when he said, hire people on the edge of greatness, and push them over that edge.
MTS: Tag the one person in the industry whose answers to these questions you would love to read:
MTS: Thank you Peter! That was fun and hope to see you back on MarTech Series soon.
Peter Friedman is a social media visionary and veteran with 32 years of online community and social media experience helping companies engage 1:1 with customers at scale. He is the founder, chairman, and CEO of LiveWorld, a trusted social media partner to the world’s largest brands, and author of The CMO’s Social Media Handbook: A Step-by-Step Guide for Leading Marketing Teams in the Social Media World. Friedman earned his MBA from The Harvard Business School and bachelor’s degree in American History from Brown University.
LiveWorld is a social content marketing company providing moderation, insight, and engagement. LiveWorld is a trusted partner to the world’s largest brands, including the number-one companies in retail, CPG, pharmaceutical, and financial/travel services.
We revolutionize the management of user content through innovative proprietary technology, leading edge services, and deep integration with client marketing and customer support teams. Scaling human review of user content and human touch points, LiveWorld removes obstacles that brands face, allowing them to engage more deeply in social media. In an innovative approach that encompasses review, management, and analysis of user content, LiveWorld provides 24/7 brand protection through “always on” moderation and engagement across social channels, applications, and sites.
The LiveWorld solution provides brands a competitive advantage through management of user content in sheer volume, resulting in amplified brand presence, and proven to improve social media marketing and increase customer loyalty.
The MTS Martech Interview Series is a fun Q&A style chat which we really enjoy doing with martech leaders. With inspiration from Lifehacker’s How I work interviews, the MarTech Series Interviews follows a two part format On Marketing Technology, and This Is How I Work. The format was chosen because when we decided to start an interview series with the biggest and brightest minds in martech – we wanted to get insight into two areas … one – their ideas on marketing tech and two – insights into the philosophy and methods that make these leaders tick.