B2B Social Media Example: Siemens

I started writing this post as the first in a series and to review of what one company was doing in social media, but based on my monitoring of real time events yesterday, I changed the focus of the post to a missed opportunity using social media. This week is VoiceCon, the leading enterprise communications event, in Orlando, Florida and James O’Neil, the new CEO of Siemens Enterprise Communications, gave a keynote yesterday. This post will focus on the online chatter and response to that event. And we will try to follow-up with the Siemens Enterprise Communications social media team to get more information behind the decisions that drove their actions during VoiceCon. James O'Neil CEO of Siemens Enterprise Communications

Siemens describes itself as a global powerhouse in electronics and electrical engineering, operating in the industry, energy and healthcare sectors, while Siemens Enterprise Communications is a joint venture with the Gores Group, and works to create seamless collaboration across wireless, fixed and enterprise networks through Unified Communications. According to their website, Siemens Enterprise Communications generated revenues of approximately 3.2 billion Euros in fiscal 2007. So we are looking at a fairly large corporation that is part of another larger corporation.

The corporation has an Info Center on their website that includes links to their blog, podcasts and webcasts. While these do not seem to current, only the blog is dated, so it is not clear how current the other content is. They also have a YouTube channel, but it is not linked from the Info Center. One of the most important things about the social web is to promote all your content and all your sites on all other sites and communities, so you can drive traffic. They posted a new video to YouTube today, and it’s a professionally-produced explanation and introduction to their unified communication platform for small business called OpenScape office, but how do people find it?

Which brings us to Twitter and the focus of this post. A new Twitter account, Search.Twitter.com for the terms voicecon and Siemens. This search updated throughout the day when anyone mentioned Siemens and a reference to voicecon (or even the hastag, #voicecon, which is a conversation tag that allows searchers to find content about a particular topic). So early on at the conference @OpenComms was tweeting the booth number (great idea) and a few mentions of links to information on other sites. There was some discussion of Siemens Enterprise Communications new proof of concept using Amazon’s service to host united communications in the cloud, or a totally web-hosted solution without hardware outlays. This was a major announcement and people were talking. I am sure the corporation was listening on Twitter, but they were not engaging.

They tweeted a couple reminders about the keynote speech, but fell silent during the talk. Several people were live tweeting the speech, which has become a fairly common occurrence. One tweet from an IDC Senior Analyst was “Siemens keynote includes demo of UC from Amazon EC2 cloud; neat concept, great strategy, weak demo.” This is a perfect opportunity to reach out and publicly respond to this industry influencer. Her opinion of the demo colors her opinion of the product. @OpenComms should have engaged her about what she would have liked to have seen. And the product team could figure out how to show it to her. It might not be able to happen at the show, but there is value in being responsive, publicly, and in real time. Product launches are not always the best demos. Maybe her expectations were high. For all we know, contact was made behind the scenes, but that reduces the power of Twitter. Others reading the tweetstream see both the comments and no response to them.

An industry consultant described the speech as “embarrassingly thin.” He also said “Siemens missed great oppty to discuss the cloud computing move with Amazon in much more depth.” Another consultant/analyst tweeted “underwhelmed with Siemens keynote. was hoping for more. not bad, just not powerful enough.” Again, this a perfect opportunity to engage on Twitter with these industry experts. This is not to say that the CEO’s speech needed to be any different, because it was likely crafted by a corporate communications department based on the approvals needed and what can and can’t be said. The issue is that the person behind the Twitter account needed to respond on Twitter and again, follow up with what they wanted to see. If their expectations were higher than what was delivered, that means marketing and pr functions did their job, but now there is an opportunity to meet those expectations.

And one final point about these live comments. Standard corporate communications response might be that it is only a handful of comments, so just let it go. That strategy no longer is appropriate. Comments on the internet are forever, and not only does Twitter rank high in Google results, but many people are now using Twitter for real time search results. And each of these people influences many others, whether through direct business dealings, or other internet channels like their own blogs, or video interviews. A drop in the lake ripples to the other side. Consider a response to every comment and engage with those talking about your company or brand.

As always, please leave any comments you have below.

Comments

  1. says

    Hi Jeff,

    As the face behind the @opencomms feed and Siemens Enterprise Communications social media efforts, I thought I should respond to show you that I am engaging :-)

    Thanks for the excellent critique. We have been trialling various forms of social media for a while now and are definitely still learning. So far we have taken a very pragmatic approach – trying out different things to see what works, but now we’re setting out to get a more structured approach.

    As for the Twitter feed: We have been astounded by the response to it. It’s been running since last November, but in the run up to VoiceCon the growth was incredible. We have been using it to interact with both customers and analysts. What you didn’t know of course, was that I was running the Twitter feed from Manchester, England. Another learning for us: if we’d have known how it would take off, then we would definitely have had someone giving updates from the hall itself. It took us a little by surprise.

    Sometimes it’s difficult to get the right balance. Your comments on the analysts were on the money, but of course we were listening. As we had people on site, however, we were able to talk to the analysts in question directly – but of course you can’t know that if you are following the thread!

    So it’s a work in progress. I’d be happy to give you more insight on our work – you can find me on LinkedIn (there are a lot of Jeff Cohens on there, but only one of me!).

    Regards,

    David

    David Burnand
    VP, Market Communications
    Siemens Enterprise Communications

  2. Jeff Cohen says

    David:

    Thanks so much for responding. This is exactly the type of engagement I was referring to, and indeed, you showed that you are monitoring, listening and engaging. The goal of this site is to create a dialogue about social media, and your comments reveal more of the story that we were not privy to. Yes, I am glad to hear that you reached out to the analysts, as I assumed, but it would have been great if you were able to so in the public twitter stream.

    I will connect to you on Twitter and LinkedIn and we can plan a more in depth follow-up where you can talk about your plans for social media and how it can help you meet your business goals.

    BTW, I did not connect with you before this post because I wanted to make the point about the importance of listening, and you proved it. By discovering this post and engaging with its author, you can further engage with those interested in social media in a B2B environment.

  3. says

    Great example here of how organisations are still learning how to use Twitter efficiently and effectively but I take my hat off to Siemens for making the leap and having a go at it, something that my organisation has also done.

    Sometimes in Social Media you do just need to give it a go and adapt your strategy as you move on and learn which is exactly what we are doing.

    However, I do believe its important to have a more joined up attitude to your social media activity, which is something that I think we are all still learning about

  4. says

    Very interesting to follow your conversation as we – at Scania – are in the same process – testing/evaluating the different possibilities.

    Looking forward to follow any continous discussions on this subject.

    Erica M Zandelin
    Manager, Internet Communications at Scania Corp. Relations

  5. Gina Batali-Brooks says

    This was a great testament to the power of social media and the importance of listening. Thanks for the great post, Jeff! David, thanks for illustrating the point and providing some great feedback on lessons you have learned.

    I’m in constant

    Keep it coming!

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