Uplifting & Upskilling Unconference

On Friday I attended my first “unconference”, which was hosted by the great team at the Social Media Leadership Forum (@SocialMediaLF). The concept of the “unconference” is pretty simple – no speaking/presentation sessions, participant driven and plenty of open debate. The main topic of the session was around Social Media Risk and Reputation Management.


The session was opened by Justin Hunt (@justinhunt), and he explained to us all the basic concept of an “unconference” as we were all seated in a circle around him.

All the participants were then given free reign to suggest topics for the different streams during the two session slots. Here are some of the ideas that were generated:


The first session I decided to go to was on using social media for customer service, which was led by Justin. We started by discussing how consumers now try to engage with brand social media channels to obtain quick and favorable responses to their questions and complaints.  One member of the group ran a large digital team who were responsible for a well known consumer brand social media customer service channels. He had some great experiences around where his team have helped people, and in doing so had happy customers as well as an improved brand image.

He said for this team the quality of the responses to the comments is more important than how quickly they answer them – although a responses is normally given within about 20 minutes, that’s 365 days a year and 24×7.  I asked if the number of followers a person has was every taken into account, and he confirmed they don’t, as they may have only a small amount of followers, but they could be highly engaged. I agree with this approach, but know that some brands ignore complaints from tweeters that only have a handful of followers. He also mentioned that you can now direct message someone on Twitter without them having to be following, which I think is an interesting step by Twitter to move it more to a customer service tool.

One of the group mentioned how actually he now finds it a “pain in the arse” to have to phone a company to ask a question or make a complaint – it’s so much easier on social media – which I agree with, I hate waiting in line on the phone!! But interested to see what others think, so here’s a quick poll.

We all agreed that whichever channel you choose, it should be a seamless and coherent customer journey.

We then moved on to talking about how brands that seem most successful at social media customer service, are those that are humanising the brand accounts and investing in Twitter personalities – think the fun Sainsbury’s fish puns! Although we all agreed there needs to be a line drawn somewhere. Interesting that one major brand hire comedians to help train the employees who are behind the brand account.

Finally we talked about using a tool like Sysomos (@sysomos) to analyse when you are getting the most engagement for your customers (day of week, time of day etc), and making sure your resourcing strategy fits this. So even if you can’t solve them all, you can at least acknowledge them.

The second session I attended was on the role of leadership in dealing with social media reputation. Andrew Grill (@andrewgrill) from IBM joined this session, and spoke about as part of his role, he works one on one with some of the leadership team to give expert coaching on how to build a good reputation on all social media channels. He talked about many of the people he coaches get more comfortable through the good experiences they have on social.

I spoke about some of the work we do at IBM around Wimbledon – a project that I am again involved in this year. I am a Punnet Pal – and I work with some of our SME’s to help them create and share great content around our Wimbledon story – this year I am working with the Analytics team, which I am very excited about (come back for more blogs on this as we move closer to the championships!).

Andrew made a fantastic points about why it is important to coach your leaders on social. If you move to a country, you have to try to learn the language – in order both to be able to understand but ALSO to be able to be understood! And social should not be any different.

I unfortunately then had to leave the session, but it really was so fun and informative, so really hope to attend another “unconference” soon.

If anyone would like to attend a SMLF member session, please let me know and I can talk to the organisers!

In Other News

I went to a Eurovision party last night – it was great we all dressed up as one country and brought a savory and sweet from the country. I was Italy so reused a Mario costume I had, and added pizza and biscotti to the buffet. Was a brilliant night!

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About beckyowen

I am a European Social Media Strategist at IBM. I love everything about Social Media, and like testing out new tools and techniques. I am also an on going Weight Watcher, but sadly LOVE all types of cheese and chocolate!
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